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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Deep in the woods

Deep in the woods | Criminology and Economic Theory |

IT WORRIES the volunteer patroller at one of the entrances to Aokigahara forest that the white car with the Osaka number plates has now been there, empty, for five days. This forest of moss-clad trees covers 30 square kilometres (12 square miles) of a lava plateau near the foot of Mount Fuji. As a place to commit suicide, it is said to be second in popularity only to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The car’s owner, the patroller says, is probably already dead somewhere deep inside the forest. His job is to try to spot and turn back those who may be contemplating suicide.

Folklore holds that the forest was once a site for ubasute, the (possibly apocryphal) practice of carrying the old or infirm to a remote place and leaving them to die, so that they would not be a burden to their families. A 1960 novel by Seicho Matsumoto popularised Aokigahara as a site for suicides, after the heroine took her own life there. When suicides in Japan rose steeply as the country’s financial bubble burst after 1989, several dozen people a year were killing themselves in Aokigahara, mainly by hanging. Signs stand next to the paths, telling passers-by that their lives are precious, a gift from their parents. The number of a suicide hotline is displayed below. Yet much internet chatter talks of the forest as a site for suicides, and its vastness is a lure to many contemplating death. Mobile-phone reception is poor. The volcanic deposits also wreak havoc with compasses; those with second thoughts might struggle to retrace their steps.

Last year over 23,000 people ended their own lives in Japan. The good news is that the number has fallen for six years in a row—a trend elsewhere, too (see chart). Part of the reason for the decline of Japanese suicides is economic: with business and personal insolvencies at a relative low, fewer people are losing their jobs or going bankrupt—a common motivation for Japanese suicides, along with worries about health. But prevention has also improved. Nearly a decade ago the government adopted policies to stop suicides. They include classes at schools, extra municipal staff trained in suicide-prevention, and better training in mental health among medical staff. Those expressing suicidal urges are now more likely to receive attention—though mental illness still has a powerful stigma attached to it in Japan.

Most preventive measures are directed at middle-aged men, who are most at risk. Yet the rate at which younger adults kill themselves has not fallen by as much as for older folk—indeed, suicide is the leading cause of death for 15- to 40-year-olds. It is harder to deal with a pervading dejection about the future that prompts many young Japanese to kill themselves than with the practical issues—eg, financial straits—that can push middle-aged people over the edge, says Yasuyuki Shimizu of Life Link, an NGO.

Meanwhile, Aokigahara continues to swallow its victims. That takes a mental toll on locals too. Recently, the same patrolman wrestled a young man to the ground to stop him vanishing inside. Such incidents haunt him, and he wants talk about them. But the police have told him not to, for fear of bringing more people looking for a stillness deeper even than the silence of the forest.

Rob Duke's insight:

Comparative Criminology: See also the idea of ubasute: taking old people out to the wilds to die.

Rob Duke's comment, February 3, 2016 3:48 AM
It must be something tied in with the culture. Durkheim's classic study on suicides in Europe revealed that it was in upheaval periods of "normlessness" that suicide rates increased. That may be a causal factor here, also.
clarence kalistook's comment, February 3, 2016 7:25 PM
This is a devastating topic for Alaska which has the highest rates of suicide in the United States, with Alaska Native males at the highest risk. This "ubasute" concept may have been used by Alaska Native tribes who were nomadic people. The very old just could not keep up and this natural consequence resulted. But today elders are respected for their knowledge of the past and survival methods. Today in remote rural villages, young males commit suicide at alarming rates and the events often cluster, resulting in 2-3 deaths at a time. I believe this complex problem is caused by the effects of historical trauma, alcohol abuse, poverty, a poor educational system, and the availability of firearms. Bringing the suicide rate down in times of State financial troubles means that these remote communities need to develop their own actions and solutions.
Emily Alvey's comment, February 6, 2016 7:48 PM
Suicide statistics never cease to shock. That being said the concept of ubaute, which quite literally means "to abandon an old woman" is particularly interesting in it's roots. It is believed that if it was practiced, it was most commonly practiced in times of great struggle and famine. Stories of it include women who seemingly willingly gave up their lives, as their sons carried them into the woods, for the sake of the family members, who were at risk of starving. The fact that it is usually mothers carried into the wilderness by their sons, speaks to the willingness of a mother to sacrifice for her children and grandchildren. It also speaks to often what is the root behind suicidal thoughts, that "everyone would be better off without me." This is a belief held by many who attempt or commit suicide. These days, rarely is it true, and most do not understand that kind of thinking. That being said, if your death could keep your children and grandchildren from starving to death, perhaps it is less difficult to understand that type of thinking. Perhaps that thought is rooted far deeper into our history and existence than we even realize.
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Slain teen Nicole Lovell was stabbed, prosecutors say

Slain teen Nicole Lovell was stabbed, prosecutors say | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Blacksburg authorities have charged two Virginia Tech students in connection with Nicole Lovell’s death.
Rob Duke's insight:

More as info develops....

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How shadow banking works

How shadow banking works | Criminology and Economic Theory |
ON JANUARY 5th, in a campaign speech in New York, American senator Bernie Sanders pledged to break up banks that were deemed “too big to fail” and vowed to put a leash on their shadowy cousins. Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve’s chair, has admitted that shadow banks pose “a huge challenge” to the world economy. In an editorial for the New York Times in December, Hillary Clinton called for tough measures to contain the global bogeyman. Politicians and economists who often have little in common, unanimously agree that shadow banking, left to its own devices, has the potential to trigger another financial collapse. What are shadow banks and why is there such a fuss about them them?

The term “shadow bank” was coined in 2007 by Paul McCulley of PIMCO, a big bond fund to describe risky off-balance-sheet vehicles hatched by banks to sell loans repackaged as bonds. Today, the term is used more loosely to cover all financial intermediaries that perform bank-like activity but are not regulated as one. These include mobile payment systems, pawnshops, peer-to-peer lending websites, hedge funds and bond-trading platforms set up by technology firms. Among the biggest are asset management companies. In 2013 investment funds that make such loans raised a whopping $97 billion worldwide. Companies looking for cash also lean on bond markets that offer extraordinarily low interest rates. Globally, between 2007 and 2012, firms thus raised $1.7 trillion by issuing corporate bonds. Money-market funds that invest in short term securities like US treasury bills have taken off too. In China alone, they grew six times to 2.2 trillion yuan ($341 billion) between mid-2013 and December 2015. In December they hit a sweet spot when Federal Reserve hiked interest rates for the first time in nearly ten years. The Financial Stability Board, an international watchdog estimates that globally, the informal lending sector serviced assets worth $80 trillion in 2014 up from $26 trillion more than a decade earlier.

Shadow banks have flourished in part because the traditional ones, battered by losses incurred during the financial slump, are under pressure. Tighter capital requirements and fear of heavy penalties have kept them grounded. In China, where banks are discouraged from lending to certain industries and are mandated to offer frustratingly low interest rates on deposits, non-banks fill the gap. About two-thirds of all lending in the country by shadow banks are in fact “bank loans in disguise”, reckons the Brookings institution, a think tank. Critics worry that unlike banks, which lend against deposits from customers, non-banks loan money using investor’s cash and rotating lines of credit. This is especially risky when skittish investors who bet on short term gains withdraw their money at once. But non-bank financing need not always be a bad thing. It offers an additional source of credit to individuals and businesses in countries where formal banking is either expensive or absent. It also takes some burden off banks which have big “maturity mismatches” (the difference between the amount of time a depositor's money is parked in the bank minus the time that it is loaned out).

And belatedly, regulators, too, are waking up to the new financial order. Banks must now declare structured investment vehicles on their balance sheets. Authorities have considered imposing leverage limits on various forms of shadow banks in America and Europe. In January last year, America’s Federal Housing Finance Agency proposed new rules that would require all non-banks to have a minimum net worth of $2.5m plus a quarter percentage point of the outstanding loan stock that they service. Only then would they be able to sell their loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy American mortgages from banks, bundle them into securities and resell them to investors with a guarantee. The move aims to protect the two government-backed housing giants against under-capitalised lenders. It is a small start to rein in an industry that accounts for a quarter of the global financial system.
Rob Duke's insight:

We'll touch on this topic again when we get to white collar crime....

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Kris Jenner on How She Felt About Ex-Husband Defending O.J. Simpson

Kris Jenner is revealing how "hard" it was to have ex-husband Robert Kardashian on the defense team for the O.J. Simpson trial.

Simpson was charged with the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994 and was acquitted of criminal charges.

Jenner, who was close friends with Brown Simpson, revealed that she was present at the trial as often as she could be, and explained to People magazine why watching her ex-husband defend Simpson was difficult.

"They were trying to save O.J. from going to jail. It was very hard," Jenner said.

Jenner, 60, also discussed the most "stressful" parts about the trial, noting that she "just wanted it to be over so that we could all try to pick up the pieces."

"It was excruciating to see how painful it was for the families to hear them go over and over all the details of what had happened," Jenner said. "It went on for so long. It was very stressful."
Rob Duke's insight:

How pop culture and justice in America are inter-related...

Christa Lynch's comment, February 4, 2016 4:55 PM
This article was ridiculous. It almost seems that she is making it about herself, i know they are asking how it impacted her but it gave me the creeps. It seems like she was backing OJ then memorializing Nicole Brown and their friendship. Also remaining neutral and acknowledging her X husbands role. Weird.
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Man Accused of 'Looking to Kill a Cop' Charged With Murder

Man Accused of 'Looking to Kill a Cop' Charged With Murder | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A man whose ex-girlfriend told police he left her house "looking to kill a cop" was charged Monday in the January death of an Ohio officer who was shot in the head, and the suspect could face the death penalty if convicted.

A Knox County grand jury indicted Herschel Ray Jones III on 10 counts, half of them linked to the slaying of 34-year-old Officer Thomas Cottrell in Danville. His body was found behind the village's municipal building late Jan. 17, shortly after Jones' ex-girlfriend warned police that he was armed and might be targeting an officer.

Prosecutor Chip McConville said Jones apparently will be represented by a public defender, who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. McConville said he anticipates the defense will request that Jones undergo a mental competency evaluation.

McConville declined to discuss what communication investigators have had with Jones or a possible motive for the shooting.
Rachael Toy's comment, February 3, 2016 3:15 AM
I just don’t understand people. Not only did he feel the need to murder but it had to specifically be a cop. I see that as defiantly being a premeditated. Like the comment before me, this should be looked at as a hate crime; targeting a specific person like that. I understand that cops are not perfect and many do bad things but for the most part they are just doing their jobs. Why do they need to be targeted to make a statement? I feel so bad for this man’s family, to loss him in such a degraded and sad way. This guy is going to use the insane plea till he is blue in the face but I just can’t see that holding up. He has such a long criminal history and they have a witness to his premeditated nature. Yet again if he is deemed insane I hope he gets the help he so badly needs.
Christa Lynch's comment, February 4, 2016 5:03 PM
This is clearly someone who is suffering from some kind of mental breakdown. A hate crime? I would have to disagree. You could pretty much classify any crime against somebody a hate cry by definition. The penalty for killing an officer is severe. I think if you could intentionally prove that a person, such as in this case, is actively seeking to kill an officer, then that should be classified as hate crime. To single out and search for a specific group, race, gender and so on is based on hate. But every officer killing is not a hate crime and shouldn't be viewed as that.
Trevor Norris's comment, February 8, 2016 3:49 AM
Like many others feel, it pains me to read, "Officer Killed". This seems to be something that is happening every week it seems like. What's worse, it seems as if it's not always in shootouts or lethal force applications, but it is people that go out seeking to kill officers such as Cottrell, or even Darren Goforth, the deputy killed earlier in 2015 while pumping gas. These killers have no connection with these officers or even a confrontation, it is just a sick impulse they feel to go kill an innocent person. I hope I will live to see the day that things like this won't happen.
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Recovered Madoff Money Now Over $11 Billion; More Hidden Away?

Recovered Madoff Money Now Over $11 Billion; More Hidden Away?
Rob Duke's insight:

This is a long developing story.  It's difficult to argue deterrence when Madoff's been chilling in jail and these funds have been out there waiting for him to get out.

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Myanmar parliament enters democratic era after 54 years of military rule

Myanmar parliament enters democratic era after 54 years of military rule | Criminology and Economic Theory |
There is a long road ahead before full democracy comes to Myanmar.
Rob Duke's insight:

Comparative Folks: this is an interesting development in Burmese culture.

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Spear fishing with the Bajau, The Bajau, Hunters of the South Seas - BBC Two

Spear fishing with the Bajau, The Bajau, Hunters of the South Seas - BBC Two | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Will talks to Robert, a young whaler worried about the future of hunting in the village.
Rob Duke's insight:

Comparative: here's an interesting culture...

Stephani Fallis's comment, February 4, 2016 8:21 PM
This is absolutely amazing! What an incredible (and dangerous) skill.
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Biker Trash Network: 1 Dead & Multiple injured at Denver Motorcycle Expo

Biker Trash Network: 1 Dead & Multiple injured at Denver Motorcycle Expo | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Rob Duke's insight:

Read the comments on this article and the whole story will become much clearer.

Who's lawless?

Who's the bullies?

Boyd Thomas Branch's comment, February 3, 2016 1:16 AM
Very interesting article and the comments do provide an interesting twist and some interesting language. It is suspicious that no arrest have been made when there were witnesses. I guess there does not have to be an arrest made but at least some kind of statement. The silence from the police in this one is somewhat suspect and adds fuel to the fire.
Rob Duke's comment, February 3, 2016 1:21 AM
Well, it's no secret where I stand on this, but the bikers would love for everyone to believe the cops are no better than the bikers, but I'll bet the officer is going to face charges. A jury might not convict, depending on the circumstances, but the cops are going to err on the side of caution and file charges is there's any question.
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Richard Renaldi Touching Strangers - Aperture Foundation

Richard Renaldi Touching Strangers - Aperture Foundation | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Since 2007, Richard Renaldi has been working on a series of photographs that involve approaching and asking complete strangers to physically interact while posing together for a portrait.
Rob Duke's insight:

This story and the next one go together...

Stephani Fallis's comment, February 4, 2016 8:27 PM
What a strange and interesting concept; very intriguing! I would be very curious to see the set and watch the live interactions of all these people. Human nature is such a funny thing.
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Non, merci: Eurozone emigrants want no part of France....

Non, merci: Eurozone emigrants want no part of France.... | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Yet it is precisely those low numbers that are puzzling, not just in Cergy but in France as a whole. Overall asylum applications rose last year by 22%, but to just 79,000—nothing remotely close to the million-plus who registered in Germany. In 2015, 158,657 Syrians completed asylum applications in Germany, compared with only 3,553 in France. Last year the European Union agreed on a relocation programme to share 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece. By mid-January France had taken in only 19; another 43 arrived this week.

The explanation seems to be a mix of migrants’ relatively weak ties to France, and the limited opportunities in a country with 10% unemployment. “I wanted to go to Sweden, then Germany or England,” says Mr Tarabein, who had friends in those countries and spoke English but not French. He ruled out Britain after friends warned him on Facebook and WhatsApp about the perils of trying to cross from the French port of Calais: “It was too dangerous, I don’t want to die.” As for France, he says he had heard it took months to get papers (France does not allow refugees to work for nine months) and that Syrian refugees there “live on the streets”. It was only when the OFPRA officials promised fast-track settlement that he agreed to take his seat on the coach. Now, relocated to Narbonne, he is trying to bring his wife and three small children from Syria.
Kristen Speyerer's curator insight, February 1, 2016 12:52 AM

Historically, xenophobia flourishes during a period of economic stagnation. France's high rate of unemployment and lack of opportunities has opened up the door to political extremism, and the National Front party appears to be benefiting the most from this phenomenon. France has been plagued with high levels of hate crime and violence against its Muslim population. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris fueled the violence and anti-Muslim rhetoric, which further alienates an already marginalized population. Additionally, the French have a strongly-held belief in separation of church and state, dating back to the French revolution.  This has created additional tensions with French Muslims who want to publicly display their religious beliefs. Most notably, France's ban on the niqab. The message is clear to the predominately Muslim Syrian refugees seeking asylum: you're not welcome. 

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Drone Rangers

Drone Rangers | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Documentary shows how the South African Wildlife Preserve Rangers are stopping poachers: they use drones.

Rob Duke's insight:

Catchy title Kemosabe.

Meaghan Tucker's comment, February 1, 2016 1:45 AM
I think it it actually really cool that they can use drones to detect when poachers are out and that they can detect people and animals on the drones. In the long run it will help them protect a lot of animals.
Trevor Norris's comment, February 8, 2016 4:02 AM
This may be a little off topic, but one of my teachers in high school mentioned that they don't mess around with poachers in some areas of Africa. He claimed he knew a person that flew planes in a patrol of refuges while his armed passenger would shoot to kill any poachers they came across from the airplane. I guess that would be a good example of a "Zero-Tolerance Policy".
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Judge Gives Man 5 Days for Child Porn, Rails Against Harsh Sentences

Judge Gives Man 5 Days for Child Porn, Rails Against Harsh Sentences | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A Brooklyn man who faced 10 years for downloading child pornography was sentenced to five days by a federal judge who sharply criticized punishment guidelines for failing to distinguish between dangerous offenders and those who pose little threat.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein wrote a 98-page decision explaining why he bypassed the guidelines and chose not to put the man in prison for possessing two dozen photos and videos — some showing men sexually assaulting girls as young as 3 years old, according to court papers.
Rob Duke's insight:

Is this right?  As we discussed in class, deterrence theory often punishes people for the future crime of others in order to deter crime--is that unfair for a non-violent offender such as this one?  Or, do we have a significant public interest in deterring this behavior?


<Consider also: Is mere consumption of child porn encouraging others to produce it?>

Daniel Heppeard's comment, January 31, 2016 7:24 PM
I feel as if deterrence theory was somewhat ignored in this case. Why does this Brooklyn man of five get five days whereas Jared Fogle has to serve fifteen years? Did this man even consider the outcomes of possessing child pornography? Plus, how could he even look at his children when he sees other children, most likely the same age, in pornography? The other thing I noticed was that the Judge had said that "It will cause serious harm to his young children by depriving them of a loving father and role model." I understand that the children would not have a father, but he needs to pay for the crimes he committed. I feel that the judge made a mistake with his ruling on this case.
Jazmin Pauline's comment, February 2, 2016 3:56 PM
The difference between Fogle and This Brooklyn man is that Fogle actually had sex with minors including interstate travel to pay minors for sex.The Brooklyn man didn't have sex with minors. Simple possession was his crime and also the content that was found on his computer.
Jazmin Pauline's comment, February 3, 2016 3:39 AM
There is a couple things that I feel was justified. In one hand he lost his job and more than likely on the pedophile list if the judge didnt waive that too but I also think how would this put fear into other potential child abusers? I understand that penalties have risen higher but it also is justified to deter this behavior. His life is basically ruined now without jail , so yeas , I believe we have a public interest in deterring this behavior before it becomes something else.
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Ravens Can Imagine Being Watched : DNews

Ravens Can Imagine Being Watched : DNews | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Ravens can imagine being spied upon by a hidden competitor, showing a capacity for abstraction once thought to be exclusively human, according to a study released Tuesday.

In a clever set of experiments, scientists showed that the famously intelligent birds take extra care to hide food if they suspect their movements are being monitored by another raven, even when the second bird is not really there.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that ravens — without recourse to direct observation — are able to understand what might be going on in the mind of another individual.
Rob Duke's insight:

This is interesting because it gives us some insight about what might be genetically influenced (naturally occurring behavior) and what might be socially learned in humans.

Ryan Conner's comment, February 5, 2016 5:16 AM
This is amazing, however when I thinking about it, you can see this kind of stuff happing with other animals. I have noticed this happing with dogs on occasion, maybe not to the extent the ravens displayed, but I have see a dog hold onto a treat or toy just to keep it away from another dog if they are showing interest in it. Or it could be a learned trait from being around humans for such a long time that they pick up the habits and techniques as a result of their environment. I can remember watching Shark Week and the same species of shark would hunt differently because of their environment. This can be the same for humans as well they adapt to their surroundings based on their environment.
Katrina Bishop's comment, February 7, 2016 8:20 PM
I agree that quite a lot of different species seem to show signs of this kind of thought process. It's interesting to see how actual studies are picking up on the concept and exploring how animals might rationalize actions. I think we might see this in different ways depending on the animal. A predator animal might act like the raven in taking extra care in hiding food, but I wonder how we might see this in animals that are more often prey. If they think they are being watched, might that influence how or where they hide?
Rachel O'Hagin Aleman's comment, February 7, 2016 11:29 PM
Definitely found this article very interesting! I could see a lot of parallels between learned traits (learned behavior) and genetic traits (genetic behavior) and how we can connect that with how humans may or may not engage in criminal activity. These birds where placed in a situation in which they felt the need to preserve their food in order for them to survive in a sense. The same can be said when people commit crimes out of need because they are trying to preserve their own livelihood. I'm not saying that this is right; however, that is a connection that can be made in regards to this study.
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Woodinville may end police surveillance camera program

Woodinville may end police surveillance camera program | Criminology and Economic Theory |
According to a city report written by Woodinville Police Chief Katie Larson, the cameras were designed to "deter, prevent or reduce crime."  But three public records requests filed after the installation raised concerns about the technology's usefulness.

"The cameras have site line limitations," Chief Larson wrote. "We are unable to discern much from the video."

Notably, license plate numbers cannot be read in daylight or darkness.  Furthermore, the chief indicates, the department "does not have the resources to dedicate to maintain the system."

Fixing the cameras could cost up to $400,000.
Rob Duke's insight:

For rural departments, USDA funds were available for these systems.  My guess is that this was a lowest bidder problem, or an ownership problem (truly embracing the program at its home agency), because other cities are having good success with optics.


Imagine if you can cover all the travel routes, how much would that reduce crime?

Boyd Thomas Branch's comment, February 3, 2016 12:58 AM
Interesting way to try help maintain control of people. If these cameras worked it could really help in the deterrence theory because many crimes would be caught on tape which would up the certainty of being caught.
Boan White's comment, February 5, 2016 5:19 PM
It depends of whether Federal signal kept quit about problem because it was a design flaw or simple a glitch in the batch of cameras that Woodinville, Illinois received. If it was simple malfunction in that batch of cameras then it was just bad luck on the part of Woodinville. If it was a design flaw then the chief financial officer of the Illinois-based Federal Signal, Brian Cooper, should have known about the The cameras site line limitations before having them installed much less claim that the surveillance camera would be really effective, work very well, have high resolution. After all Federal Signal should have done numerous test and simulations and therefore seen the design flaw and fixed them. Another question is how Federal Signal could claim that they have herd nothing but satisfaction from the product works and the customer when the law enforcement agency and the mayor are clearly not satisfied. Though I have to say that the I like the idea of using surveillance cameras to catch the culprit committing the crime and deter crime.
mlsoden's comment, February 11, 2016 1:00 PM
Camera systems offer an excellent way to gather evidence and to deter crime. Unfortunately the cost of some systems makes them difficult to afford. The types of camera used by Woodinville, based on the photos posted, include Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras and I imagine higher end recording devices, which are expensive. For City's and larger businesses this may be financially affordable to install, but maintenance costs are difficult. For homeowners and small business owners there are many less expensive alternatives that offer high quality images. In these days of social media and the ease of getting images out to a large audience the ability to have images is of great value. Having the public participate in identifying those individuals that are victimizing them helps everyone to feel like they are part of the solution.
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Virginia Tech Students Get Lawyers As Police Probe Teen's Death

Virginia Tech Students Get Lawyers As Police Probe Teen's Death | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Those who know two former Howard County students charged in connection with the murder of a middle schooler are breaking their silence. There’s new information as both appear in court. Two promising Virginia Tech stduents from Howard County face a judge after being accused in the killing of a 13-year-old girl in Virginia. The multi-state murder investigation is growing with new questions about the motive.
Miranda Kay Grieser's comment, February 2, 2016 2:26 AM
I think it is crazy that the people we least expect to do something like this are usually the ones to do it. I was disappointed reading this article though because I was hoping to find the motive behind this guy killing the 13-year old girl. They do say in the article that he claimed “the truth will set him free”. But what does that even mean? They also said that the girl wasn’t killed with a gun, so how was she killed? There are a lot of holes in the story, and leaves me wanting to learn more about what happened.
Rob Duke's comment, February 2, 2016 2:30 AM
We may not find out much until trial since they've opted to have attorneys very early. This is quite a contrast with the French system, continental civil law, hybrid systems (Japan), and sacred law, and socialist systems where defense attorneys have a limited role in defending the accused.
Christa Lynch's comment, February 4, 2016 3:54 PM
I found his original statement "the truth shall set me free" a little bizarre. There is obviously some major issues in this case that haven't been revealed. So because this was a multi-state murder, does that mean they could be tried in both states. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts because if one states fumbles the other could pick up the case under the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine. It seems that they are making it clear there is multiple states that have a vested interest in this case.
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4 Ex-Blackwater Contractors Appeal Convictions in Shootings

4 Ex-Blackwater Contractors Appeal Convictions in Shootings | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Four former Blackwater security contractors found guilty in a deadly Baghdad shooting appealed their convictions on Monday, saying a key witness against them had changed his testimony after the trial and that prosecutors lacked jurisdiction to even bring the case.

The appeals, long expected, represent the latest legal volley in a criminal case that's spanned years in Washington's federal court and that concluded with guilty verdicts following a monthslong trial in 2014.

Nicholas Slatten is serving a life sentence on a charge of first-degree murder. Three other former guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — were found guilty of manslaughter and firearms charges carrying mandatory minimum 30-year sentences.

The case arose from a September 2007 shooting in Nisoor Square, with prosecutors accusing the guards in the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians. The mass killings at the crowded traffic circle in downtown Baghdad strained international relations and drew immediate public scrutiny to the role of American contractors in war-torn Iraq.

At trial, the two sides presented the jury with radically different accounts of what happened: Prosecutors described the killings as a one-sided ambush of unarmed civilians, while defense lawyers said the guards opened fire only after a white Kia sedan seen as a potential car bomb threat began moving quickly toward their convoy.

Central to the appeal is a witness who defense lawyers say changed his account of what happened in a way that undermines the government's narrative.

The witness, an Iraqi traffic officer, told jurors that the driver of the Kia was killed by the first shots that were fired in an unprovoked burst of violence that set off the rest of the rampage. He testified that after seeing the mortally wounded driver, he ran in front of the convoy with his hands up and told the guards to stop shooting.

But right before the sentencing hearing last April, the same witness submitted a victim impact statement saying that the driver was still alive when the shooting started and that, instead of standing before the convoy as he had earlier maintained, he actually remained in his traffic kiosk out of fear.
Ryan Conner's comment, February 5, 2016 5:15 AM
From the little information given, it sounds like this would be very hard case to have to work on from both standpoints. Given the little information, I can’t see how there can’t be a successful appeal, just based on the new information and the changing of the story by the guard. I would hope they were acting within their rights but who knows without being there and not have a witness that for the most part changed their entire story.
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Teacher Not Charged in California Prison Escape

The 44-year-old jail teacher arrested in connection with the escape of three maximum-security inmates at a California lockup will be released today, Orange County Prosecutor Tony Rackauckas said in a news conference.

“At this time, there is insufficient evidence to charge her with any crime," Rackauckas said of Nooshafarin Ravaghi.

She's being released on her own recognizance, although required to turn in her passport until the investigation is complete, officials said.
Rachael Toy's comment, February 3, 2016 3:02 AM
Unfortunately the story is very vague on her part of the escape. As they gather more information I hope it becomes clearer on what she did and how involved she was in their escape. I think that this is huge deal. The idea that people can escape from jail is scary. Though we all know it is possible, it doesn’t happen much so I would believe that we don’t worry or even think about it much. Yet, when it does happen it always seems so easily done. If she really was involved in their escape I hope that some sort of punishment will come her way. People shouldn’t get away with helping anyone in jail or prison escape. I can appreciate the fact that they were apprehended and no longer at large. It is always good to see the “good guys” win. At least we can have faith that our police forces are doing their very best.
Jazmin Pauline's comment, February 3, 2016 3:29 AM
I feel that there was more to it than what is told her because to escape the way that they did , there had to be others involved in the escape.
Rob Duke's comment, February 3, 2016 1:01 PM
I suspect that this is more of the "we can't call people 'suspects', so we invent 'person of interest' as a new term." They may still plan on filing charges at some point, but protect themselves from defamation claims early on....
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Farm Kid Writes Home After Joining The Marines. This Is Priceless.

Farm Kid Writes Home After Joining The Marines. This Is Priceless. | Criminology and Economic Theory |

iLove this.

Rob Duke's insight:

It's not criminology related per se, but it's funny to me.  Hope you like it.

Miranda Kay Grieser's comment, February 2, 2016 2:27 AM
I am absolutely mind-blown that it was a girl that wrote this letter!!! I was not expecting it to say “Love your daughter” at the end of the letter. My mouth actually dropped in shock when I read that last line. This girl means business so I am glad she is part of the Marines, looks like she’s fitting right in and crushing the competition in the process. It is crazy to think that people that live on the farm go through so much more than military does. Because she is right, they have to get up way earlier than 6am to do all the chores on the farm.
Christa Lynch's comment, February 4, 2016 4:03 PM
Ha! I thought it was just comparing the Corps to farm life. Making fun of how easy it is and what real "hard work" consists of. I don't want to spoil the joke so i'll just say it was funny.
Thomas Antal's comment, February 5, 2016 3:16 PM
This letter is absolutely hilarious. But I would assume someone who lives the hard farm life wouldn’t be shy from most of basic training.
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Iran: Waiting for the peace dividend

Iran: Waiting for the peace dividend | Criminology and Economic Theory |

THERE were no street parties. When sanctions relating to Iran’s nuclear programme were lifted on January 16th, it was instead Iranians’ deep cynicism that prevailed. “Quick, prepare the [immigration] forms,” some joked on social media, scoffing at the idea that tourists would suddenly come pouring in.

Nor was Hassan Rohani, Iran’s president, able to enjoy the moment. Within days of the announcement the Guardian Council, a body of jurists and theologians, barred a majority of reformist candidates from running in parliamentary elections next month. Then on January 18th America slapped new sanctions on those involved in Iran’s missile programme.

Yet the next few weeks—and the speed of the economy’s response to the lifting of sanctions—will be crucial in determining the direction that Iran takes over coming years. Next month the country also votes for members of the Assembly of Experts, a committee that will choose the next supreme leader, who outranks the president. To keep the hardliners at bay, Mr Rohani, who himself must seek re-election next year, will have to persuade them of the virtues of a more liberal, less state-run, more outward-looking economy.

To do so he has to hope for a quick turn in the fortunes of the world’s 18th-largest economy (by purchasing-power parity). Yet overcoming the lingering effects of its isolation will be no easy task. “It took years to put the sanctions on, and removing them will be a process,” says Ramin Rabii, who runs Turquoise Partners, an Iranian investment firm. Foreign banks, some of which faced swingeing fines for having facilitated trade with Iran, complain about inconsistencies in official sanctions lists published by different countries and fret they may again face prosecution for violating sanctions still in place, or new ones.

In graphics: The implications and consequences of Iran's nuclear deal
Iran’s most immediate benefit will be the unfreezing of assets abroad worth at least $32 billion. (American officials put the figure at $55 billion; others give still higher numbers.) Iran plans to spend a chunk of this on railways, airports and aircraft; it is close to clinching a deal with Airbus to buy 114 new planes, and says it needs 400.

Much of the rest of the cash, say Iranian officials, will help sort out the country’s banks, which were pushed to the brink of insolvency, if not into it, by the previous administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Up to a fifth of all bank loans are said to be non-performing and several banks are bust, not least because the government instructed them to lend even when they thought it imprudent. Some critics fret that the money will instead be used to fund terrorism and Shia militancy abroad.

Another quick win will come from Iran’s readmission to the global banking system and payment networks such as SWIFT. This will help drive down the cost of imports since, in recent years, Iranian businessmen have not had access to letters of credit. As a result they had to pay upfront in full for imports. Ending such restrictions could add up a percentage point to annual growth, the IMF reckons. Industry should benefit within months.

Over the longer run Iran should be able to attract foreign investment, which has fallen in recent years (see chart). Among Iran’s attractions are a young, well-educated and largely urban population of 80m. European delegations have flooded into Tehran in the past 18 months, but they still need convincing that the country is politically stable and friendly to business.

The most attractive industries are food and drink, pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods. Many Iranians want European brands rather than the Chinese ones that dominated the market under sanctions. “We used to sell high-quality Italian washing machines, but our customers have gone elsewhere to buy Chinese imports,” says Ramin Farahi, a salesman near Tehran’s Grand Bazaar. Foreign hotel chains are also poised to invest.

The biggest prize for investors may be carmaking. The automotive industry employs hundreds of thousands of workers, but output is shoddy. Some expect that production could bounce back by the end of this year to 1.6m vehicles, matching the high point achieved in 2011. Renault and Peugeot, which have a long history in Iran, are already back.

The government’s priority is probably to increase production of oil—which made up 17% of GDP and 30% of the government’s income in 2014—by 500,000 barrels per day (b/d), to about 1.5m b/d. In time it hopes to get back to the 3m-4m b/d it used to pump before sanctions. But because of the slump in world prices, oil will be less of a cash cow than was once hoped and Iran will struggle to get investment from debt-laden international oil companies.

Iran’s economy is far more diverse than those of other oil producers in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, its regional rival. By most estimates its GDP could grow by 5-8% a year, despite weak oil prices.

Quite apart from the lifting of sanctions, Mr Rohani’s team realises that it needs to address a raft of problems in an economy that was sorely mismanaged by Mr Ahmadinejad. Corruption is rife: Transparency International, a Berlin-based watchdog, ranks Iran 136th in its corruption perceptions index. In addition, the World Bank puts Iran at a lowly 118th in its ease-of-doing-business index. Capital markets need developing. Firms need access to finance. Unemployment and underemployment are rife and labour productivity is low. Now that sanctions are being lifted, the regime will no longer be able to blame foreigners for Iran’s woes. Yet unless he can show quick progress, Mr Rohani may well be punished at the ballot box for the sins of his predecessor. 

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The Bajau, Hunters of the South Seas - BBC Two

The Bajau, Hunters of the South Seas - BBC Two | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Will joins the hunt with the Bajau fishermen of Sulawesi, the world's best freedivers.
Rob Duke's insight:

Comparative: here's an interesting culture...

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Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (Mongols) get into fight with law enforcement bike club

Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (Mongols) get into fight with law enforcement bike club | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Whitfield believed that three members of the Iron Order were injured. He said that one may have been shot, another may have been stabbed, and another may have been severely beaten.

On Sunday, police were in the process of interviewing witnesses and victims to determine who might be charged.

“We strongly suspect there’s more than one shooter,” said Chief Robert White of the Denver Police Department in a news conference on Saturday. “How many firearms were recovered or how many firearms were used on the offense, that’s still part of the ongoing (investigation).”

Stubbs said that none of the Mongols involved in the shooting had a gun.

According to Whitfield, some members of the Iron Order are in law enforcement. Maass confirmed the shooter works as a guard for the Colorado Department of Corrections but hasn’t been able to get the person’s name or where the person works.
Trevor Norris's comment, February 8, 2016 3:53 AM
From what I have gathered from other articles in regards to this, it seems that it is extremely important for LE's to be mindful of what they are doing. A bunch of buddies getting together and riding their bikes is one thing, but when it becomes a blurred line between friend group and gang, it not only puts the LEOs in a tight spot, but it also throws out a bad image. Especially in today's world, it is important for members of law enforcement to be better than that, or be mindful of their actions. Some people will use what ever they can to throw at law enforcement and things like this can just give them more ammo.
Patrick Nestor's comment, February 14, 2016 5:22 AM
I know a few members of the Iron Order here in Alaska. From what I understand they are strictly non-violent and will walk away from other clubs or immediately concede any possible antagonistic situations. They are mostly just guys who want to be a part of an old-school MC without all the gangster BS. That's just what I have read though. Looks like there was a fox in the henhouse, so to speak.
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Richard Renaldi's "Touching Strangers"

Richard Renaldi's "Touching Strangers" | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Richard Renaldi is a New York photographer whose "Touching Strangers" portrait series brings an unlikely intimacy to photographs. For each shot, Renaldi grabs strangers off the street and poses them like adoring family. Steve Hartman reports.
Rob Duke's insight:

Don't miss this one.  It's very interesting.


Have you had these one off meetings that lead to intimate relationships (like the Canterbury Tales where strangers find something more than safety in numbers when they travel together on a pilgrimage...)?  I have and it may be one of those hard-wired human experiences that allow us to form family and community in very odd places.

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Polish lorry driver remanded in Czech custody over rail accident - České

Polish lorry driver remanded in Czech custody over rail accident - České | Criminology and Economic Theory |
The lorry driver drove on a level crossing though the gates were going down and the red light was on. A high-speed Pendolino train, running at up to 160 km/hour, bumped into the lorry.

Two people died on the spot and the third succumbed to fatal injuries in hospital. Eighteen people, from the train, were injured. Six are still hospitalised, while three of them are at an intensive care unit in a very serious condition, Ostrava Teaching Hospital spokesman Tomas Oborny said.

The Polish driver faces up to ten years in prison for negligent endangering of public safety.

Judge Radim Svec told reporters that he agreed with the state attorney´s reasons for custody, in particular that the accused driver might attempt to avoid the prosecution.

"The driver sincerely regrets his act, he is gradually realising what he has caused," Svec said.

The driver has admitted he knew that the red light was on. His act will be investigated, Svec added.

He said the accident was also a consequence of the driver´s avoiding paid motorway sections.

The driver was in the lorry cab when the train crashed into it, but he escaped with no serious injuries since the train cut off the cab, regional deputy police chief Radim Witta told reporters on Thursday.

The rest of the lorry transporting sheet metal caught fire and the train pushed the burning debris along several hundred metres.

The Polish driver had no problems with traffic rules observance on Czech roads in the past, Witta said.

However, he told public Czech Television (CT) later that the driver had quite many police records about traffic offences in Poland, according to unofficial Polish information.
Rob Duke's insight:

Here's an example of a civil law investigations and prosecution....

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Justified shooting? Residents near Oregon occupation site debate FBI video

Justified shooting? Residents near Oregon occupation site debate FBI video | Criminology and Economic Theory |
The Internet is not the only place where a passionate and often anonymous debate took place Friday over what a video released by the FBI revealed about the shooting death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a spokesman of the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge near this town.
The aisles at the...
Daniel Heppeard's comment, January 31, 2016 7:09 PM
That was quite the interesting video and the comments about it were even more interesting. After I had watched the video the first time, I did not realize that Finicum was apparently reaching for a gun. Before that, though, it almost looked as if Finicum had hit an officer before driving into the snowbank. That might be the other reason he was shot, but then again, I'm not very sure. The footage was not clear enough.
Rob Duke's comment, January 31, 2016 8:06 PM
While it's tough to know without being there, it does appear that Finicum was trying to provoke a reaction. I won't go so far to say "suicide by cop" because despite rational choice, folks tend to over-estimate their own capacity to survive, fight, outsmart the officers, etc.