Criminology and Economic Theory
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Criminology and Economic Theory
In search of viable criminological theory
Curated by Rob Duke
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Fairbanksans ask City Council to grant city sanctuary status

Fairbanksans ask City Council to grant city sanctuary status | Criminology and Economic Theory |
FAIRBANKS — Mayor Jim Matherly said he and City Attorney Paul Ewers would explore the possibility of sanctuary city status after a dozen people asked the City Council for the
Kelsey Therron Snell's comment, February 12, 9:45 PM
hahahahaha go ahead and make us a sanctuary city if you want, who the hell in their right mind would move here from a desert climate......? Personally, I am not opposed to the idea of helping those in need, but that's exactly it, we have those in need presently and let's take care of them. I am pretty sure there is a country named the UAE reallllllll close by to these banned countries that could probably help out with some financial means to the people of the region. Just a thought.
Cheyenne Martinez's comment, February 13, 1:18 AM
I understand the appeal of bestowing sanctuary city status onto Fairbanks, but I also know that most of the citizens do not wish to open the resources available here to others. Many, I would assume, think that any illegal immigration would cause some sort of chaotic crime boom. I do not share this belief. However, I am concerned with the amount of open hostilities in general aimed towards immigrants in our country’s current state.
Brennan D Watson's comment, February 16, 7:59 PM
had personally not heard of the concept of sanctuary cities before this article. I am not sure that people would even take advantage of Fairbanks being a sanctuary city, we are kind of out of the way. I also think that we may want to see how the court battle on the immigration ban works out before we go and make an emotionally charged decision. I am also pleased that our city counselors have chosen to take the time to research the issue before making a decision.
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Alaska Sen. Sullivan takes a new shot at breaking up the 9th Circuit court

Conservative Alaskans have long hoped for an appeals court with which they are more ideologically aligned.
Rob Duke's insight:
The 9th would serve California, Hawaii, and the Mariana Islands; while the new 12th would serve Alaska, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, etc.
Derrick Morris's curator insight, February 8, 6:16 PM

This is an Interesting Article, written by Erica Martinson reporting for the Alaska Dispatch News, Washington, DC.  

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Drug-dealing felon whose sentence was commuted by Obama arrested with a kilo of cocaine

Drug-dealing felon whose sentence was commuted by Obama arrested with a kilo of cocaine | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A San Antonio man who was once serving a life sentence, for drug crimes who then was commuted by President Barack Obama, is back behind bars.
Rob Duke's insight:
Liam Juhl's comment, February 10, 7:53 PM
The war on drugs is a tired and spent attempt to change crime in America. I don't do drugs, I don't support the use of drugs, and I wouldn't like to see children using drugs, especially, but that's my choice. I think that the decriminalization of certainly most drugs would do well for the Justice system in America, and instead of offering lower sentences for these non-violent offenders, instead offer them rehabilitation efforts, and reform programs to truly benefit themselves. Like I said, drugs aren't a part of my life, because of my choice. His choice to continue to make the same bad decisions are his own, too, and being well aware of the consequences, and having spent so long in jail clean, he should know the punishment he expects. It was a bad choice, but it was his to make, and it's a shame that lifestyle has such a rewarding possibility.
Riley Landeis's comment, February 10, 8:46 PM
There is a difference between individuals charged with small amounts in possession and people like this who have a large amount with the intent to sell. I don't know what qualified these individuals for pardoning, but clearly it should have been looked at further before the final decision was made.
Jazmin Pauline's comment, February 12, 4:40 PM
This is interesting but also sad that he could not stay out of crime after being released,
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How an NYPD Lieutenant's Intuition Helped Catch the Queens Jogger Murder Suspect

How an NYPD Lieutenant's Intuition Helped Catch the Queens Jogger Murder Suspect | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Karina Vetrano was strangled to death while jogging on Aug. 2, 2016.
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California considers an end to bail: ‘We’re punishing people simply for being poor’

California considers an end to bail: ‘We’re punishing people simply for being poor’ | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Critics charge that making people pay for their release from jail is discriminatory against the poor and has led to high pretrial detention rates in California. Legislation was introduced this session to overhaul the system, but bail bond companies and law enforcement groups are pushing back, arguing that bail protects public safety .
Riley Landeis's comment, February 10, 8:53 PM
I agree that the safety precaution is necessary and it seems that in certain cases bail is extremely high, but the way that I see it is that you shouldn't be committing a crime if you don't want to locked away on an expensive bail. I think the article attempts to use the example of the old man going blind to appeal to our emotions. This sounds like a very rare case and an attempt to push California's liberal agenda.
Katrina Bishop's comment, February 11, 7:32 PM
I agree with Riley that you shouldn’t be committing a crime if you don’t want to be locked away on an expensive bail. Bail I think is a deterrence factor. We are monetary society, and money is something people need to live. If posting high bails makes people less likely to commit crimes than it’s a useful tactic. That being said, I can see how bails can be too high, especially if people are coming from poverty. How are people supposed to continue with their lives and make a change if they can’t get out of jail to do it? I it’s an interesting idea and one that needs to be closely looked at.
Cheyenne Martinez's comment, February 13, 3:17 AM
Why is the amount of bail for California so high? It’s practically unreasonable to demand bail at that rate – hence the numerous people awaiting trial and those who are imprisoned for not being able to pay their bail. In agreement with the article, I believe this to be rather reprehensible, and I’m certainly quite glad that they are trying to address this issue and change it into a better working system, but this is simply my opinion on the matter.
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Study Ties Loss Of Jobs To Rise In Violent Crime

Study Ties Loss Of Jobs To Rise In Violent Crime | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A new study out this week suggests that the loss of jobs in Chicago’s inner city has been a major factor in the rising crime rates in some neighborhoods.
Tyler Hytry's comment, February 7, 7:14 PM
It makes sense that poverty can lead to criminal activities. Say your neighbor is living the American dream of 2.5 kids, a wife, the white picket fence, the whole enchilada, but you are not due to your financial status. You might want your little piece of the American dream one way to get that could be crime.
Manisha Misra's comment, February 8, 6:47 PM
Although this is horrible, it really isn't surprising at all that crime rates would go up as the unemployment rate goes up as well. People who are living a perfectly normal and okay life, are making a steady income and are getting by just fine, sometimes lose all that and don't know how to manage their life anymore. It only makes sense that they turn to crime. It's possibly a survival instinct to do this. They might think that crime is the only way for them to keep a roof over their heads.
Timmy Folkers's curator insight, February 12, 3:50 AM
It does make scene that people without jobs would search for something more. However, it does rise a bigger question, what is the current job market like and how are the banks handling loans and if they are allowing any bankruptcy.  
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2016 Crime Statistics Show Less Murders but More Violent Crime; City Announces New Police Partnership

Long Beach's most-read news source. Local News, Breaking News, Crime, Life, Business, Sports, Food, and LGBT issues, online daily.
Liam Juhl's comment, February 10, 8:27 PM
It's good to see less people in jail, but sad to see those with mental health issues and those struggling with addiction, the reasons they commit crimes, without help. That the murder rate has gone down while overall crime stays the same is an interesting thing to consider, and it'll be interesting to find out why if violent crimes are on the rise, murders aren't.
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Detroit gangs using social media to post hit lists that lead to murders, investigators say

Detroit gangs using social media to post hit lists that lead to murders, investigators say | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A murder hit list posted on Instagram was the final straw for local law enforcement looking to put a stop to violence in one of the country's most dangerous neighborhoods.
Cheyenne Martinez's comment, February 6, 2:57 AM
I can see that in a way the idea of using social media as a conduit for crime – a hit list, like they mentioned, might’ve been an easy way for the gangs to commit crime, using technology to their advantage. I wonder if they thought of the repercussions? Like how nearly all forms of social media are monitored, and even if something is deleted it never truly goes away. It was a very good call to bring in the FBI to help track the social media usage and to follow that trail.
Jm Hamilton Author's comment, February 6, 3:12 AM
This article I found to be deeply troubling. I also believe that this demonstrates the broken window theory that I learned about recently in my studies. I see where it wasn’t applied and a large area paid the price, it is a potential scenario that a lot of small crimes didn’t get prosecuted and therefore bigger crimes happened. These sort of problems, with 10-15 empty houses on a single street, doesn’t happen overnight. It develops over time, I would think. If police had targeted this area a lot sooner, the gangs would have perhaps not been as emboldened as they are now and many lives could have been saved. However, they are doing something now and that is good, but my important question would be, is the crime being deterred by the measures being taken or is it just being displaced to another area a little at a time? Good article though.
Mark Stoller's comment, February 6, 10:29 PM
Very interesting article, did not know gangs were actively using social media to construct hit lists. Pretty surprised that they are doing this since as it stated in the article it leaves a pretty obvious trail behind. That being said it’s also good news seeing that the police are acting out the broken window theory, cleaning up these unfortunate neighborhoods in Detroit.
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Alaska Legislature already considering changes to controversial crime bill

Sen. John Coghill is working on a draft bill to change Senate Bill 91 provisions that have drawn outrage from the public and law enforcement.
Rob Duke's insight:
Dear Senator Coghill,

Please include a provision for ex-offenders to reduce felonies to misdemeanors after being free of felony probation for three years; and, expungement after another suitable period of time.

In Alaska, every licensed position bars convicted felons (barbers, vet techs, nurses, etc.), which unfairly keeps ex-cons from finding and keeping a professional job.  Once a person has rehabilitated themselves, they should be able to move on.

At the very least, all prior convictions under the old punishment levels, should be reduced to the new levels (e.g. a felony act under the old standards that is now a misdemeanor should be reduced retroactively to a misdemeanor).

Thank you for your kind consideration of this matter.

Your Justice Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
Camden Pommenville's comment, February 6, 2:25 AM
I think the intention of the bill was a good one. It is intended to limit re-offense and rehabilitate rather than limitless incarceration, all while saving money that can be used for other purposes. There are always some weak points in any bill but I like that even the opponents to the bill want to see the numbers before immediately calling for its repeal.
Leah Haskell's comment, February 6, 2:48 AM
I agree with Nikki Gaikowski, there are reasons while some felons are banned from certain jobs. If one is convicted on drug felonies they shouldn't be working near drugs. If someone is convicted on rape, child abuse (sexual assault) they shouldn't be around children or a place where they could be tempted. Now most people know what happens if they commit a crime so they should know that after they do their time life isn't going to be easy. I don't think must jobs ban convicts but if two people are applying for a job, person without a felony charge on their record is most likely going to get the job. I had a roommate who was ex con, he ended up getting a good job making 18 an hour. I gave him a chance just to have him start using drugs. He lost his children, job and self within a month.
Rob Duke's comment, February 7, 2:35 AM
It's complicated. We had Prop. 47 in California that let a bunch of people free early with no re-entry and little guidance. It's been a bane on law enforcement and the community, but Alaska has seen fit to include re-entry, so I have higher hopes for it to work.
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How Conservative A Supreme Court Nominee Can Trump Get Through The Senate?

How Conservative A Supreme Court Nominee Can Trump Get Through The Senate? | Criminology and Economic Theory |
What are Donald Trump’s chances of getting his Supreme Court nominee confirmed by the Senate? That depends on who he picks — Trump needs to find a nominee that…
Lydia Weiss's comment, January 31, 5:55 AM
While I know that generally there are checks and balances, with the way things are going, I wouldn't put it past him to try to use EO power or some such way to pick a person. A lot of his decisions have been questionable at best, and even a lot of republicans have shown remorse.
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What is a 'violent crime'? For California's new parole law, the definition is murky— and it matters

The path forward for implementing new CA parole law depends, in part, on the state’s very narrow definition in CA penal code of a “violent crime.”
Sarah Levy's comment, February 5, 6:03 PM
I don't think it's just my opinion when I say that all sex crimes are innately violent. It's crazy to think that some of these crimes were up for debate on whether they were violent or not, and that a serial rapist was also put up for debate if he was a "violent criminal" or not. I understand wanting to lower the prison population and try to rehabilitate, but if you're a violent sex offender I think this should be greatly, greatly considered in terms of what kind of rehabilitation is necessary for them to no longer be a danger to society. I am really happy Brock Turner was mentioned in this article and the fact that his sentencing was incredibly light considering his horrific actions. I also think it's important that although this law will better define a "violent crime", laws like these do seem to hit harder on minorities. It should be known that minorities dominate our prisons and people of color get harsher sentences for lesser crimes, or harsher sentences than that of a white man who committed the same crime. This article was really eye opening, it's very informative and relevant.
Samantha Pershing's comment, February 5, 11:11 PM
I get that in the past, crimes that we consider today to be violent crimes may not have been considered that violent. As society changes, so do our laws. For instance, not that long ago the courts did not recognize marital rape as rape. Now we do. I do agree though that it does shock me that some of these were not considered violent crimes, only for the reason that they "didn’t want to add everything conceivable". At least the laws are changing now.
Leah Haskell's comment, February 6, 3:21 AM
I understand, the want to increase rehabilitation and decrease the prison population. It is also nice to allow the parole board to offer early release to prisoners who have served their primary sentence and have demonstrated good behavior but only for non violent criminals. Yet the man mentioned in the article who drugged three women, then poisoned and raped them is not considered a violent felon. So he could be release early. Now how is rape not violent crime. Forcing your self and raping them is more violent than hitting or beating someone in my opinion. The article also did state that the proposal will exclude all sex offenders from early parole wether their crime was violent or not which is good. Also a majority of the state voted for this.
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Under Mao, the depressed were seen as traitors: China wakes up to its mental-health problems | The Economist

Under Mao, the depressed were seen as traitors: China wakes up to its mental-health problems | The Economist | Criminology and Economic Theory |
LAST year Li Tian (not her real name) spent a month in a mental hospital. She has suffered from depression for years, but was not particularly low or anxious at the time. It was just that world leaders were preparing to gather in Hangzhou, the eastern city where she lives, for a G20 summit.
Manisha Misra's comment, February 1, 7:51 PM
It's so sad to me that there are places that still so greatly stigmatize mental health and treat them so negatively. Mental health is still seen as a weakness or as a threat in many parts of the world and to many people everywhere. I hope that with time, these mindsets change and people take the time and make the effort to help people with mental health issues instead of disregarding them.
Manisha Misra's comment, February 1, 7:51 PM
It's so sad to me that there are places that still so greatly stigmatize mental health and treat them so negatively. Mental health is still seen as a weakness or as a threat in many parts of the world and to many people everywhere. I hope that with time, these mindsets change and people take the time and make the effort to help people with mental health issues instead of disregarding them.
Angela Webb's comment, February 5, 7:47 PM
I think it is awful that having a mental illness is considered a sign of weakness. This causes so much more harm to people and makes them feel even more lost and alone. I think there should be so much more out there to help those with mental illnesses. It should be seen as a serious issue and there should be opportunities to get help.
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Sheriff: 1976 slaying of Bill Medley’s ex-wife in Hermosa Beach solved

Sheriff: 1976 slaying of Bill Medley’s ex-wife in Hermosa Beach solved | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators on Monday will announce that they have solved the 1976 slaying of Karen Klaas, a Hermosa Beach mother of two and the ex-wife of singer Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers.

The case was solved through the use of “familial DNA,” which identified the killer, the department said in a statement Friday.

Detectives, forensic and law enforcement officers will hold a news conference on Monday, the 41st anniversary of the crime.

Klaas, 32, was found in her Hermosa Beach home on Jan. 30, 1976. She had been sexually assaulted, choked and left unconscious. In a coma, she died Feb. 4, 1976.

For years, detectives tried to identify a thick-haired, bearded man who was seen exiting Klaas’ front door when neighbors went to check on her. In 1976, detectives created a plaster model of the head and published it on a “Wanted for murder” flier.

The man was white, about 28 years old, 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a medium build, brown hair and beard. His hair and beard were “well-cared for,” and his complexion was pale.

Klaas, who had two children, was attacked shortly after returning home from taking her youngest child to the McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach.

Klaas’ assailant ransacked the house, which showed signs of a struggle. Crutches that Klaas had used after breaking her leg were on the floor.

Medley stayed at her side in the hospital until she died.

“Karen was very loved and respected, and it was a horror what happened to her,” Medley told the Orange County Register in 2000. “She has a lot of friends who would like to see this resolved.”

Use of familial DNA is a controversial technique that searches databases for a partial match when a regular DNA search fails to find a match. A familial DNA search turns up a partial match, finding a relative of a suspect.
Jm Hamilton Author's comment, February 2, 3:35 PM
I always think that its really neat if we are able to solve cold cases, even better if the offender is alive and can be caught. Although 41 years later, means that the offender is probably already old or dead. DNA evidence is an amazing thing and it is now used for so many things. One case that stands in my mind is the BTK killer, the bind torture, and kill, serial killer. He was a bad dude and took eons to be caught, I believe it took about 30 years or so. He was finally apprehended in 2005. However back to a previous article, a person like him should not receive luxuries in prison what so ever, I looked at the picture of his apprehension and of him more recently and he looks healthier now than in 2005.
Rob Duke's comment, February 4, 3:42 PM
All the big agencies in California have non-sworn investigators who assist the sworn investigators. A cold-crime division would likely be staffed with both.
Sara Mckinstry's comment, February 6, 2:11 AM
its good that they are trying to find new ways on doing things to prevent crimes from happening but the question is will it work? there are so many crimes that happen that we don't even know about. but will this help us?
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Hackers take down thousands of 'dark web' sites, post private data

Hackers take down thousands of 'dark web' sites, post private data | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Someone claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous compromised a private web hosting service last week, taking down more than 10,000 sites on the highly encrypted "dark web," security researchers said.

The hacker or hackers broke into the hidden web hosting service Freedom Hosting II, claiming to have harvested all of the sites' files and its database, totaling almost 80 gigabytes of material, they said in a message appearing on the screens of users trying to access the sites.

They said more than half of the information they obtained was child pornography, even though the service promotes itself as having a "zero tolerance policy" to such material.

Other materials in the exposed data include numerous references to botnets — automated computer networks used to launch distributed denial of service (or DDoS) attacks, spew out spam or steal data — email addresses, usernames and passwords from dark web sites.
Cheyenne Martinez's comment, February 13, 3:30 AM
I am also one of those people who had never heard of the dark web – or even the fact that most of the internet wasn’t accessible through search engines. The thought that the rest can only be accessed through certain passwords and software is kind of crazy to me. However, on another note – it’s interesting that certain web hosting servers have delved into the more unjustifiable types of crime only when they are behind closed doors. How quickly their actions betray their words.
Brennan D Watson's comment, February 16, 7:41 PM
What I am wondering is why the group of hackers would leave a link to how they supposedly carried out the hack. That seems like it could be used to make systems more secure against them.
Kyle Green's comment, February 18, 8:13 PM
If the dark web network wasn’t permitted to be in existence in the first place, and someone illegally obtains access and control over it and then shuts it down, was harm really done to anyone?

Vigilante justice? “Anonymous” is known for that, but they themselves are not necessarily a unified “organization” having been on both sides of the fence of what is probably considered “legal.”
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The shaping of the law in America: Why the American legal system is so flexible | The Economist

The shaping of the law in America: Why the American legal system is so flexible | The Economist | Criminology and Economic Theory |

The idea of “rights”, “mainstream” and even the role of the Supreme Court in determining these are not as enshrined as advocates of various positions contend. They never have been. Many ideas abound about the role of the court within America’s political system, the principles it should uphold and even the definition of a ubiquitous term, “rule of law”. Some of these debates trace their roots back to the early 18th century, before America was even established.

If the fight has become more heated, it is because the authority of the judiciary in America, notably its ability “to legislate”—to expand the reach of law and find new, unstated (and possibly unintended) rights—has been a pivotal feature of politics since the 1950s. “Law Professors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law”, a well-timed book by Stephen Presser, a professor at Northwestern University, traces how this emerged.

The book is organised around the intellectual biographies of 29 individuals, including one Barack Obama, who spent 12 years as a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago before taking an eight-year tour as America’s president. “There is no country on Earth in which law professors have played a more prominent role,” writes Mr Presser, a statement that neither lawyers nor politicians in any camp would dispute.

The natural audience for this book is academics, members of the bar and law students. For these last in particular, it may become essential reading. Law professors like putting their students through the hoops by asking them bewildering questions; Mr Presser’s book does a good job of distilling what is actually being taught. Given the timing of the book, though, its greatest value may lie in the way it explains why potential candidates are so often described, by different interested parties, as being ignorant, bigots or temperamentally unsuited to the task at hand.

“Our two major political parties now understand the rule of law very differently,” Mr Presser writes. Should it be based on precedent and written statutes (basically the Republican approach) or should it be discretionary and allowed to incorporate values and external information (the Democrats’ view). Within this schism is a struggle over whether the judiciary’s role is to enforce laws as they were written or to see law as a flexible instrument to achieve objectives, many of which are passionately supported—and passionately opposed.

That law professors became pivotal players in this drama was never inevitable. As in Britain, in America’s earliest days legal training came through apprenticeships. This was augmented by a few intellectually ambitious outside authorities who found their way to universities. One of the earliest law professors, Joseph Story, simultaneously taught at Harvard, served as a justice on the Supreme Court, wrote treatises instructing judges and lawyers on the law and ran a bank (which may have been perceived at the time as an added benefit rather than a conflict of interest).

In his spare time, Story hosted Alexis de Tocqueville during his trip to America, and is thought to have been a key influence in de Tocqueville’s assertion that lawyers served as America’s aristocracy, and “constitute a sort of privileged body in the scale of intellect”, who serve as “the most powerful existing security against the excesses of democracy”. These lines are often repeated—less so a subsequent passage, noting that beyond their virtues, they, “like most other men, are governed by their private interests, and especially by the interests of the moment”.

These three sentiments: that the study of the law is the preserve of lawyers, who are the intellectual elite; that they serve as a deterrent against the failures of democracy; and that they may be compromised, if not flawed, in their approach, are dominant themes throughout Mr Presser’s book. In practice, Story was one of many prominent Americans who tried to distil law from cases that were largely but not exclusively British, reflecting differences such as lack of a monarchy. Although this was a formidable task, it was limited to determining what were, in fact, the rules of law.

The pedagogical approach was formalised in the late 19th century by Christopher Columbus Langdell, a dean of Harvard Law School, who developed what became the practice of deciphering a vast number of appellate decisions to understand what were perceived to be scientific principles and logic. But even as this approach to legal training became common, intellectually the fact that the law could be discerned through its history was never entirely satisfactory to its most ambitious practitioners. In response to a casebook on contracts compiled by Langdell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, yet another professor at Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court justice, wrote, “The Life of the Law is not logic, but experience.” Even if the same rules were invoked, over time they served different purposes, in Holmes’s view.

It is this premise of a flexible law that became the animating force in law schools and ultimately in American courts and policy, largely through a series of movements that Mr Presser describes with as much precision as this somewhat murky procession allows. Among the most important was “legal realism”, which, as Holmes’s statement suggests, examined what judges actually did, rather than the rules of law¸ and encouraged them to incorporate research from social sciences in making their decisions. This was adopted by the Supreme Court under Earl Warren after the second world war and played a huge factor in many of its most notable decisions, including Brown v Board of Education in 1954, which concluded that segregation was unconstitutional, not because of segregation itself but rather because of testimony drawn from research about the psychological harm that segregation imposed.
The notion of the court as a mechanism for going beyond statutes and past decisions to define justice opened up a wide field of study in the latter half of the 20th century. Among the many professors to shape the judicial system during that time were Ronald Dworkin, a professor at New York University and Oxford, who argued that law must be debated on the basis of moral concepts rather than rules; Richard Posner, a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago and a federal judge, who has been called the single most cited legal authority largely because of his development of cost-benefit analysis; and, conversely, Cass Sunstein, also of Chicago, then Harvard, then the Obama administration, who concluded that the failure of people to act rationally justifies judicial and governmental intervention.

Mr Obama too spent many years at Chicago, but Mr Presser writes that his views were established while he was a student at Harvard when another movement, “critical legal studies”, was popular. It argued that the law was malleable—a political instrument that had been misused by the powerful in the past and should be reinterpreted to empower the disenfranchised.

The great figure who opposed this approach was Antonin Scalia, who left the Chicago faculty to be a federal appeals court judge then a Supreme Court justice, and whose death almost exactly a year ago created the current opening.

As Mr Presser writes, Scalia believed the law and constitution should be followed by interpreting both as they were understood at the time they were enacted rather than stretched by unelected judges, since original intent was the best means of implementing the will of the people. Change should come through popular votes and the laws enacted by elected legislators. This approach, more than any particular issue, is a fundamental challenge to an expansive court, presidency and even, perhaps, to the aristocratic position that de Tocqueville discerned in the law. As Mr Presser shows, it is a challenge that resonated in unlikely candidates in the past, notably Felix Frankfurter, a Harvard professor, architect of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and a Supreme Court justice, who revealed in his opinions concerns about pushing the boundaries of law too far.

Mr Presser’s book does not always make for easy reading, but the ideas that he has gathered together, all of them put forward by intelligent people, are complex. America is consumed by serious legal debates about issues, what the law says, what people think the law should say—and whether that is law. This may be the book that comes closest to spelling out what is really being argued.

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His money or his art?: Obituary: J.S.G.Boggs was found dead on January 23rd | The Economist

His money or his art?: Obituary: J.S.G.Boggs was found dead on January 23rd | The Economist | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A HAMBURGER and Coke with Steve Boggs was a disconcerting event. To begin with he preferred to be called “Boggs”, just straight. He also had a way of opening his eyes a little wider than normal, giving his thin face an unnerving, even devilish look. And then, when the eating was done and the bill came, he would take out his wallet, unfold the notes, and put one on the table in a way that portended something profound and strange.

At first glance, the note would look normal. It was not. The portrait on it might be of Mr Boggs himself, or Martha Washington instead of George. The bank name might be “Federal Reserve Not”, or “Bank of Bohemia”. The plate serial number might be “EMC2” or “LSD”. All this delicate copying and subverting had taken up to ten hours of Mr Boggs’s time, working on special paper with the finest-tip green and black pens. (He later shifted to limited-edition prints, a little speedier.) The result was now proffered to pay for his food.

To the bemused waitress, he would politely explain that he was an artist. He could pay her with official money if she wanted. But he believed in producing something beautiful; and having spent so much time on this drawing of money, wasn’t it worth the value it declared?

Nine out of ten times, the offer was refused. If it was accepted, Mr Boggs would note down time and place on the blank back of the drawing, ask for a receipt and take any change he was “owed”. After a day, he would call one of many avid collectors of his works; he would sell the collector, at a roughly fivefold mark-up, the receipt and change; and from those clues the collector, if he wished to buy the drawing, would have to track down the new owner. Receipt, change and drawn note, when reunited, became joint proof of the drawing’s value, confirmed by the transaction; and would then change hands, typically, for tens of thousands of dollars.

This elaborate charade ensured that Mr Boggs never sold his drawings. He “spent” them at “face value” in exchange for goods and services, cheekily challenging the value ascribed to money. The inspiration dated from 1984, when a waitress in Chicago accepted his sketch of a dollar bill on a napkin for a doughnut and a coffee. She even gave him a dime in change, which he kept as a lucky charm. After that, wherever he was in the world, he drew the local currency and threw down his challenge.

Early on he struggled, unwashed, hungry and heavily in debt. But by 1999 his drawings had paid for more than $1m-worth of goods, including rent, clothes, hotels and a brand-new Yamaha motorbike. He thanked the Swiss, who discovered him in 1986 and were often delighted to accept original art rather than “real” money. 


He was cautious, however, about dealing with anyone he already knew. He preferred to offer his exchange to people who had never heard of him, even though they might just scrumple his precious note into a pocket. And his main aim was to raise disquieting questions about the notion of exchange itself. What was money really worth? What supported a dollar bill, other than faith? Was the value of anything just subjective? When salesmen told him they didn’t accept art, he would point out the beauty of official notes, with their scrolls and arrow-clutching eagles. When shopkeepers demanded only “real” money, he might launch into the non-reality of time and space, too. To his long-time tracker and biographer, Lawrence Weschler, he was “just short of being a con man—but no more so than anyone else in the art world, or for that matter in the world of finance—which, of course, is the whole point.”

Feat counterfeit

A simpler view was taken by the authorities. This looked like counterfeiting to them. In Britain, where he lived for several years, he was arrested and put on trial at the Old Bailey for “reproducing” the currency. He argued back that it was the “real” notes that were reproductions: his drawings were originals, never meant to be the real thing. He was acquitted, as he was when he faced similar charges in Australia.

America, though, hardly knew how to deal with him. In 1992 he had a madcap idea to flood Pittsburgh, where he lived then, with $1m in Boggs Bills, and see if they could get through five transactions (handlers would put thumbprints on the back). The Secret Service warned the city and raided his studio, seizing more than 1,000 pieces of work. They never returned them. The courts solemnly debated whether the drawings were closer to pornography—which might be censored, but also allowed as free speech—or evil non-returnable contraband, like drugs.

Mr Boggs’s career was blighted by fruitless appeals to try and get them back. His legal costs mounted. At his Old Bailey trial he had paid his lawyer with drawings for his services. He now started on a series of $1,000 Boggs Bills sporting a portrait of him by Thomas Hipschen, America’s chief engraver of banknotes (itself happily exchanged for a Boggs Bill), to cover a hearing in the Supreme Court, if he could get one. But he was also venturing closer to the edge, toting guns and using methamphetamines, and died before he had got that far.

His art remained on the walls of America’s finest museums and of galleries all over Europe. His questions remained, too, evading easy answers.
Rob Duke's insight:
Ah, paper money.  A leap of faith Institution.  What says that the paper is worth anything?

Salmon Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, at the time, convinced Lincoln and others that we needed it.  Until the mid-civil war, we still traded in coin.
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Bus driver gets 2 years in death of autistic teen left on bus in Whittier

Bus driver gets 2 years in death of autistic teen left on bus in Whittier | Criminology and Economic Theory |
WHITTIER >> A judge on Monday sentenced a school bus driver to two years in prison for leaving an autistic Whitti
Katrina Bishop's comment, February 11, 7:41 PM
It’s very tragic that this happened, but it does go to show how important training and following that training is when dealing with kids. The fact that there was a person with a mental disorder on the bus should be something that driver’s think about. They should consider the possibility of something like this happening and be required to check the bus. Even with children who don’t have mental disorders, drivers need to receive training and know to check the seats before they leave. Kids fall asleep on the way home from school all the time.
Joshua Vey's comment, February 13, 8:21 PM
It sucks when something that could have been avoided happens, especially at the expense of someone's life.
Ashley DeLoney's comment, February 18, 6:14 PM
This story is rather shocking. I use to ride the bus home from middle school into my first year in high school and my bus driver always checked the seats after all the kids exited the bus.
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California Governor Brown: Driver’s license penalty harms the poor

California Governor Brown: Driver’s license penalty harms the poor | Criminology and Economic Theory |
SARAMENTO >> When Aaron Cutchon was laid off from his job at an auto body shop, he could no longer afford to pay for two traffic tickets he got for driving in a carpool lane.His license was suspended, and he had to stop attending classes
Ashley DeLoney's comment, February 18, 6:35 PM
What a great idea I think. You must still be held accountable for your actions. In this case your driving tickets. Though paying them is a mute point if you lose your license because of the tickets. Little jobs will hire you. You need income to pay off what you owe.
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USC spatial sciences students analyze crime patterns in L.A.

USC spatial sciences students analyze crime patterns in L.A. | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Using location-based data, researchers show where violent crimes are concentrated and how that information can lead to positive results.
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In The Shadow Of Exile

In The Shadow Of Exile | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Schuylkill federal prison is a four-hour drive from Rochester.Illustration and graphics by Ella KoezeIn 1998, Bill Johnson traveled from his home in Rochester, …
Gram Hood's comment, February 6, 2:21 AM
In my opinion, the only way to really solve gun crime is by allowing more citizens to carry guns freely, as an armed individual is much less likely to be a victim. This type of program, while attractive sounding due to the harsh sound of it, is not likely to produce long term positive effects. A criminal set to a long term prison sentence extremely far away from every thing, and one they know is not likely to rehabilitate them and prevent them from committing further crimes upon release.
Jm Hamilton Author's comment, February 6, 3:34 AM
I have to first say this was a long article, and went well with the reading for another of my classes, regarding the cost of incapacitation. I am learning that deterrence is a significant thing, but it is also not as effective in our system as one would hope. I don’t think that this approach had any more success than any other, not to say that nothing works, but I just recently came to believe that preventing the possibility of the crimes from happening via, active community based policing, and changing laws to reduce time in prison for non-violent offenders, are the best approaches, education to reduce what used to be called “thinking errors” in all the counseling I have had through my life, where people don’t think their actions through. In example the main protagonist in the article went to jail for selling crack-cocaine for money to buy clothes for school, and then was unable to find a good job (this creates a recidivistic environment in my mind), and decided to make the rationale choice to indulge in selling illegal drugs again to take care of his sister, well he didn’t think beyond that, when his thought should be, if I go to jail who is going to take care of my sister? Son? Mother? Here is where someone, or the system it self could be changed in providing better jobs to people who have committed crimes once they have been rehabilitated so they can move on and not commit crimes again.
Rob Duke's comment, February 7, 2:28 AM
The biggest impact of deterrence is the sureness of apprehension--the one thing we have trouble accepting in the U.S. In order to be sure, we have to have lots of cops and draconian laws. We don't stand for either, thus deterrence is really not suited to U.S. justice.....
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Metropolis on the Bosporus: New histories of Istanbul | The Economist

Metropolis on the Bosporus: New histories of Istanbul | The Economist | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Istanbul: Tale of Three Cities. By Bettany Hughes. Orion; 800 pages; £25. To be published in America by Da Capo Press in September; $35.

Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World. By Thomas Madden. Viking; 400 pages; $30.

FOR more than 2,000 years, the city on the Bosporus has by turns dazzled, enticed, horrified and scared the world. Over the generations, its inhabitants have excelled in art and architecture, wielded political and spiritual power over big swathes of the earth, and suffered in catastrophes ranging from earthquakes to fires. In recent years, the city has surged in importance as an economic and cultural hub and suffered awful terrorist attacks.

Yet for all its colourful drama, the city’s history can be hard to narrate in a way that is coherent and gripping. When studying the Byzantine era, readers can easily get lost in a succession of emperors with confusingly similar names, all embroiled in ruthless family feuds. Bettany Hughes, a prolific British broadcaster and classical scholar, and Thomas Madden, an American professor of history, take up that challenge in new books about Istanbul, and in both cases the result is impressive.

In “Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities” Ms Hughes plays intriguing, sophisticated games with time and space: both those concepts, in her view, need to be reconsidered when contemplating something so vast and fluid as Istanbul’s historical pageant. Of course, that impulse is not completely original: any visitor attuned to the city will get the sense at times that every phase of local history is simultaneously present and in some way still unfolding.
Kelsey Therron Snell's comment, February 4, 2:27 AM
It is without the doubt that you can say Istanbul has been an important part of the middle eastern and western conflict for ages now; it is right at the conflagration in fact. Istanbul is a melting pot of peoples, thoughts, and beliefs; it would only seem right given human nature that it would have a violent history and past such as it has had. However, given this violent history, it has also been an epicenter of thought transfer and architectural history.
Rob Duke's comment, February 4, 2:52 AM
Probably still true 1000 years from now, too.
Briana Whiteside's comment, February 6, 12:06 AM
Even though the name has been changed the city remains to be in the history books on their achievements through time. if only the article had a way of seeing photos.
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Dress in a Muslim country: Turkey covers up | The Economist

Dress in a Muslim country: Turkey covers up | The Economist | Criminology and Economic Theory |
AS OTHER countries move to ban Muslim head coverings, Turkey is going the opposite way. Women have been free to wear headscarves at state universities since 2011, and in parliament since 2013. Last August policewomen were allowed to cover their heads; in November a ban on headscarves among civilian defence staff was lifted.

In 1925 Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first president, declared that a “civilised, international dress” was “worthy and appropriate” for the new republic. For men, this meant Western shoes, trousers, shirts and ties—in with the bowler and out with the fez. Women were urged to follow European fashion, dance the foxtrot and work in the professions. In 1934 Turkey let women vote and banned the wearing of the Islamic veil.

Curbs on religious garb were tightened in the 1990s. Fatma Benli, a lawyer and parliamentarian, remembers being asked to remove her scarf before defending her dissertation in the late 1990s. In 1999 an MP who came to parliament in a headscarf was booed out. That began to change after 2002, as the Justice and Development (AK) party consolidated power. Today 21 covered women sit in parliament. Critics say the AK party has promoted veiling by preferring veiled job applicants and conservative groups. Binnaz Toprak, a sociologist and opposition politician, has found that some women, especially in the public sector, wear the scarf to further their careers.
Linda Darnell's comment, February 1, 12:00 PM
I think that the move to lessen the restrictions on clothing is a positive thing. They practice a civil law system, which means the law is defined my written codes and this indicates to me that Turkey's civil law system has moved toward a more accepting and democratic policy. These type of dress policies are common in countries that adhere to sacred law, but I find it odd to see it in a country like Turkey.
Manisha Misra's comment, February 1, 7:45 PM
I think that it's truly an awful and honestly irrelevant thing to create laws about what people can and cannot wear. This move towards lighter to no restrictions on clothing is a very good thing and just shows a form of progression that needs to be seen all over the world. This is showing Turkey as being an accepting country, something that all countries need to be.
Martha Hood's comment, February 5, 4:36 PM
We do not tell Catholic nuns that they cannot wear their veils or Jewish women they cannot wear their headscarves. We honor those rights and traditions. Why is it that countries and people choose one religion and decided they cannot dress the way that they want? Is it because of the false belief that all Muslim women are forced to wear the Hijab against their individual and personal beliefs? Does it threaten our own views of what being a modern or emancipated woman is? Or is is just old fashion racism?
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California inmate stole identities of 700 fellow prisoners to file fraudulent tax returns

A Marin County man was convicted of using his time in prison not to rehabilitate and learn the error of his ways, but to steal the identities of his fellow inmates and use them to file fake federal tax returns. Howard Webber, 52, was found guilty by a jury Tuesday of conspiring to use stole
Cheyenne Martinez's comment, February 6, 3:31 AM
Something about this seems really ridiculous to me – a crime so large-scale went on for nearly two years before he was caught? That he would amass so much money for himself and other inmates all while under the watch of the detention center. I’m a little concerned at the thoroughness of the monitoring those detention centers may or may not have, and how Webber managed to remain undetected for two years – all within the system that sought to rehabilitate and punish? I’m not sure we’re doing this whole imprisonment thing the right way.
Mark Stoller's comment, February 12, 3:29 PM
This is truly impressive. This guy was able to make over $600,000 dollars from prison. I can’t even break $2000 and I work two jobs! It also is quite impressive that he did this for two years without the police or prison officials catching wind of it. I feel that I shouldn’t be using the word impressive this much in regards to a criminal but come on.
Cynthia Hoffer's comment, February 19, 9:23 PM
WOW as I'm reading this article I want to know what resources this man had when he was in prison to even get everyones taxes? Also for the men in prison with him why on earth would you give someone you don't know your SSN? That is just calling trouble unless this man threaten to kill them if they didn't help him get money. I'm just amazed that a man in prison made over $600,000 from behind bars.
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Philippines' Duterte orders police to 'cleanse' ranks amidst murder scandal

Philippines' Duterte orders police to 'cleanse' ranks amidst murder scandal | Criminology and Economic Theory |
President Rodrigo Duterte has called for a total overhaul of the Philippine National Police in the wake of the alleged brutal killing of a South Korean businessman by corrupt police officials.
Jm Hamilton Author's comment, February 6, 3:42 AM
Scandal is the correct word here and a terrible one. I am unaware of how the Philipines approaches the formation of their police, and I think the repairs to the national force will take a long time to complete but I hope they rat out the bad cops, there are few things worse than a dirty cop. I am unsure what the aggravators were, what led police to become dirty or what led to the victimization of a south Korean official. This article goes well with this weeks discussion on weak and strong police, I think this shows what happens when the police are not held accountable by a system of checks and balances. What happens when police go unchecked and are without accountability.
Jm Hamilton Author's comment, February 6, 3:42 AM
businessman not official I mistyped
Rob Duke's comment, February 7, 2:44 AM
Reminds me of the murder of Thomas Beckett, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, in 1170. King Henry is said to have said something like "who will rid me of this troublesome priest?" and, someone handed him the assassination with plausible deniability. That's a far cry from what we have with most American Law Enforcement. A few petty bullies, a few who have some idea of noble-cause corruption, but most who believe in a rule of law and a free citizenry. Frankly, I'd rather have this than a bunch of hoodlums who answer to no one. Question a cop's honor and he goes on leave...perhaps never to return to duty--when has that ever kept a hoodlum from exercising his power?
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Man in his 60s killed in Huron drive-by shooting

Man in his 60s killed in Huron drive-by shooting | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A man in his 60s is dead after a shooting in Huron on Sunday morning, said Fresno County sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti.
Rob Duke's insight:
First murder there in a long time.  Sorry to hear....I was Chief of Police in the early 2010's.
Sara Mckinstry's comment, February 6, 2:14 AM
This is a very sad thing to hear about. its scary this stuff is happening out of know where. but who wants to shoot a 60 year old man like they have a grudge against him? was it possibly an accident?
Cheyenne Martinez's comment, February 6, 3:14 AM
This must have been some sort of terrible accident, in the sense that maybe it was committed by someone who was out to shoot anyone, and they just happened to pick this man. Whatever the case may be, the loss of this gentleman’s life is heartbreaking indeed.
Mark Stoller's comment, February 6, 9:58 PM
This is a terrible tragedy and sounds like it was gang action that went wrong. Interesting that the victim was in his 60's since that would not be my first thought of a victim to gang violence.