In this three-hour special CBS Reports, Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, and Dan Rather visited nine cities and came back with a survey of violence across America. Mike Wallace talked to surgeons and injured children in a Washington, D.C., hospital, went to a public-housing project in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where people get gunned down, and visited Angola, Louisiana's maximum-security prison. Ed Bradley looked at domestic violence and alcoholic rage in Denver, discussed the "foolishness" of a new crime bill in Atlanta and recounted how cops, teachers, clergymen, and parents took their city back from the crack dealers in east Palo Alto, California. Dan Rather spent time with street gangs in Hartford and visited the Bar None treatment center. He followed young offenders wearing electronic bracelets and talked to victims of random violence in Minneapolis. He also went to Phoenix to look into child abuse and the lack of action from the part of the state. Produced by Margaret McEvoy, David McGloin, Holly K. Fine, and Paul R. Fine, and written by Alex Chadwick, the show, which aired on January 26, 1995, received a Peabody Award.
The reviews were overwhelmingly positive with Variety calling the show “splendidly produced, unflinchingly direct, program brings up questions that can’t be answered, yet must be.” The New York Times complimented the excellent research and ground work of Washington-based producers Holly K. Fine and Paul R. Fine, “no sequence is weak and the three hours are though and tight, right up to an epilogue that packs a tremendous emotional wallop.” The Los Angeles Times praised how “the interviews are tight and polished, the editing flawless--affirming that the producers who guided the production, veterans Paul and Holly Fine, know this turf extremely well,” but complained how, like many other shows, “'In the Killing Fields of America' identiffies the problems, but the crucial question is skirted: 'How did America get so violent?' is never answered.” For the Washington Post, Tom Shales praised how "three of the best broadcast journalists ever--Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, and Dan Rather -- ... and the production team turn a 'social problem' into something harrowingly urgent and immediate."
The show was awarded a Peabody Award in 1995 with the following remarks: "Television has long been the target of criticism that its depictions of violence are glamorized and that the effects of violence are glossed over or ignored. 'CBS Reports: In the Killing Fields of America' answers these charges and exhibits how television can indeed show the truth about violence and its catastrophic consequences. The look at the problem is a collection of portraits of real people, real violence, and real tragedy. The shame suffered by a young killer and the pain expressed by a mother whose daughter was murdered by her husband, are among the stories brought to life in this compelling report. Co-hosts Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, and Dan Rather trace the epidemic of violence in America beyond the headlines and newscasts. In the skilled hands of producers Holly and Paul Fine, recipients of personal Peabody Awards in 1990, this powerful documentary humanizes the problem, examines its roots, its consequences and the frustrating search for meaningful solutions. For examining violence with realism, compassion, and candor, a Peabody Award to CBS News for 'CBS Reports: In the Killing Fields of America."