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IBM launches the IBM i2 Group Intelligent Law Enforcement platform at #IACP2012 - A Better People

IBM launches the IBM i2 Group Intelligent Law Enforcement platform at #IACP2012 - A Better People | Criminology and Economic Theory | is a syndication partner on A Better People. Interested in becoming a Syndication Partner?
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Longevity in rich countries

Longevity in rich countries | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Graphic detail
Feb 23rd 2017by THE DATA TEAM
POPULATION forecasting is not simple. Demographers use mortality data—information about when people die and why—to estimate the likely life expectancy of people still alive. The UN, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and others produce periodic forecasts that are fairly similar. Wealthy countries such as Japan, Switzerland and Australia have the highest life expectancies, though the estimates vary slightly depending on the methodology used. But a new study of 35 rich countries by researchers at Imperial College London and the WHO, and published in the Lancet, a medical journal, uses a combination of 21 statistical models, instead of just one. The results, say the authors, are more reliable. They are also surprising.

By 2030, they think, South Korea will have seen the biggest gains in life expectancy for both men and women. A girl born there in 2030 is likely to live past her 90th birthday, seven years longer than one born in 2010. South Korean men are expected to live to just over 84, leapfrogging 18 other countries to the top of the ranking. 

South Korea’s trajectory has been remarkable. Its annual GDP per person is more than 20 times the level in 1960. America and Britain saw only a trebling over the same period. These economic gains have improved the nation’s health. In 1985 life expectancy in South Korea was more than four years lower than in America for both sexes; by 2010 it had caught up for men and risen to three years higher for women. The main reasons were big reductions in child mortality, deaths from infections and deaths from diseases related to high blood pressure, which include cardiovascular disease and stroke. The share of South Koreans who have raised blood pressure is lower than in any other country. Few South Koreans suffer from obesity, which increases the chance of several chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart problems and cancer. Smoking rates among women remain low.

Other countries expected to do well are improving for similar reasons. Few women in France and Switzerland are obese. By 2030 Hungarian men are expected to live 7.5 years longer on average than they did in 2010, partly because fewer drink too much or smoke. New Zealand, Australia and Canada have low rates of infant mortality and death from traffic accidents, and good records in preventing and treating heart disease and cancer.

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Exhibition challenges victim-blaming rape myth

Exhibition challenges victim-blaming rape myth | Criminology and Economic Theory |
"What were you wearing?" It's a question that's often put to the victims of sexual violence.

It suggests that the way they were dressed may have had something to do with the attack -- and thereby insinuates that the victim bears some responsibility.
Meaghan Tucker's comment, January 19, 2:41 PM
It is crazy that people really believe that the clothes a women wears could be the reason the gets sexually assaulted. Women from all over the world get sexually assulated, some in revealing clothes and some that aren't. When a women gets dressed in the morning she puts on clothes, that she believe she looks cute in or that will fit the attirevthat she should be wearing for the days activities. A women shouldn't have to wear a lose turtle neck sweater, baggy jeans, and boots to feel safe in the clothes she is wearing. It also has to do with the guys that are in our society now. They feel the need to over power a women that they feel is weak. Some men do it as revenge and other men have their own reasons, but it is wrong no matter what. "What was she wearing" shouldn't even be a question that she is asked though.
Manisha Misra's comment, January 19, 11:50 PM
I think this is a really interesting article, especially with the current Larry Nassar case going on where a grown man in a position of power sexually assaulted hundreds of adolescent girls. Saying that it's the victims fault that she got raped because of what she was wearing or how she was acting is comparable to saying a victim of murder got murdered cause they were a target in some way that they were acting, etc. There are so many situations where people get raped, in some situations the girl is covered head to toe and in others maybe the girl is wearing something racy. But that should never even be considered in cases. When someone commits the crime of rape, they alone are responsible. If we don't blame a victim for getting murdered or physically assaulted or getting something stolen from then we can't blame a victim for getting raped.
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An alcoholism epidemic among the Lakota Sioux

An alcoholism epidemic among the Lakota Sioux | Criminology and Economic Theory |

THE Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, the site of the battle of Wounded Knee, contains one of the poorest counties in America; and every one of its residents is affected, in some way, by alcoholism. So says Robert Brave Heart senior, one of the leaders of Red Cloud, a private Catholic school founded in 1888 by Jesuits at the request of Red Cloud, a chief of the Oglala Lakota, the tribe of Crazy Horse. Most of his people, says Mr Brave Heart, cannot drink alcohol in moderation. He thinks he is one of them. After bad experiences with booze as a teenager, he has not touched alcohol for 40 years.

Alcohol has been banned in Pine Ridge since 1889, except for a few months in the 1970s. Yet two-thirds of adults on the reservation are alcoholics; alcohol-fuelled domestic violence is rampant; and one in four babies born on the reservation is irreversibly damaged by fetal-alcohol syndrome, a range of neurological defects caused by mothers drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

One of the main sources of alcohol for the reservation’s residents is Whiteclay, a tiny hamlet of 11 residents just a short walk away across the state line in Nebraska. Whiteclay, which has no school and no grocery shop, seems to exist solely to sell booze. On April 19th Nebraska’s state liquor board voted to revoke the licences of Whiteclay’s four liquor stores, which are due to expire on April 30th. They argued that the town is not well enough policed: reason enough to revoke a licence. A lawyer for the shops said at once that his clients would appeal.

Activists such as Frank LaMere, a member of the Winnebago tribe, who has fought for 22 years to shut down the shops, are jubilant about the state board’s decision. They argue that the shops have been making immoral profits from the misery of vulnerable residents of the reservation. Last year the shops sold an astonishing 3.6m cans of beer, or seven cans per minute, almost all to the Lakota Sioux.

Yet Mr Brave Heart and others are sceptical about the licence revocation. They say those who want to drink will simply drive to get their booze farther afield, which will increase both the already high number of fatal drunk-driving car crashes, and bootlegging. “Alcoholism is a social and spiritual problem,” says Mr Brave Heart. It cannot be reversed with the stroke of a pen.

Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democratic state senator from Nebraska, is the author of the bill creating the Whiteclay public health emergency task-force, which unanimously passed the unicameral statehouse on April 24th. She agrees that it will take more than prohibition to help the alcoholics in Pine Ridge. Ms Pansing Brooks wants a substation of the Nebraska state patrol set up in Whiteclay, as well as demolition of abandoned buildings where crime and trafficking are rife. She also wants to create a detox centre with a job-training programme, and promote economic development by giving residents access to wireless broadband. She says she feels a duty to do something because of her state’s complicity in destroying the tribe.

Her efforts are backed by Tom Brewer, Nebraska’s first Native-American state senator, who grew up on the Pine Ridge reservation. As a staunch Republican, he is at the other end of the political spectrum, but the two senators are united in their outrage at what is happening in Pine Ridge. More than half—perhaps 80%—of its adults are unemployed. About half live below the federal poverty line. Almost one-third are homeless. Men die, on average, at 47 and women at 55. Almost half the population older than 40 is diabetic. The infant mortality rate is triple the national average, the suicide rate of teenagers is more than double and obesity is an even bigger problem than in the rest of the Midwest.

Students of journalism at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln recently produced a wide-ranging report on the impact of the liquor shops on the reservation. It was called “The Wounds of Whiteclay: Nebraska’s Shameful Legacy”. Those wounds will take a long time to heal, if they ever do.

Meaghan Tucker's comment, January 19, 2:29 PM
This post was an interesting read. I have never seen so many people have issues with alcohol until I moved to Alaska and I did think it was bad here, but now I don't think it that's bad. Alcoholism is an issue a lot of places. In this instance it seems like therevisnt much In the area that they live,so the people started to drink and it only got worse over time to the point they feel like they have to now. I do believe that the license should get taken and that would cut down some of the issue, but the statement in the article was right. People will just drive further to get the alcohol which could result in more accidents. It is not something they will know until they try to resolve the issue that is clearly affected a lot of people's lives. The state should have caught it before it got this bad.
Krista Scott's comment, Today, 12:18 AM
This was a very moving post and makes you open your eyes of what the hell is actually going on these reservations and the issues that often go unsaid but the states. Alcoholism seems like it is the main problem for native americans this problem is destroying their communities as well as their people. I think that as a whole the United States and the Federal Indian Affairs Bereau need to come together to try to figure how to help and aid these tribes with drug and alcohol abuses along with mental health. I think there needs to be a nationwide study and to have community tribal leaders come together to figure out ways to bring there communities back together to build a healthier community for not just the people but children and teens.
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Homeless entrenched in booming tent city along Santa Ana River

Homeless entrenched in booming tent city along Santa Ana River | Criminology and Economic Theory |
The tent cities along the river offer a level of comfort and perhaps sophistication unparalleled by any prominent homeless camps in the San Diego region.
Rob Duke's insight:
Interesting video....on the one hand: ridiculous that the public space can be taken over, but on the other hand, when people need affordable housing, that's not being provided largely because California's institutions are weighted towards providing high dollar housing not affordable housing, so where do we think these folks are going to live.
In addition, it looks like a vibrant community is budding, as long as it's being policed well.  I imagine, however, that this is the wild west once the sun goes down.  I really feel for the people who own those houses that back up along that stretch.
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A watertight store of Indians’ personal data proves leaky

A watertight store of Indians’ personal data proves leaky | Criminology and Economic Theory |
AADHAAR, India’s project to issue every resident a unique, biometrically verifiable identification number, is big, bold and in many ways brilliant. Aadhaar IDs provide a quick, easy and theoretically foolproof way for civil servants and firms to know for sure with whom they are dealing. Officials say the scheme allows better targeting of welfare. Businesses love how easy it makes checking credit histories and vetting job applicants, among other things.

An Aadhaar card allowed your correspondent to apply for and walk away with a driver’s licence in under half an hour. It provides proof of address and other data that in other countries—and in pre-Aadhaar India—would require a stack of documents. But civil libertarians have long worried that the government or, worse, crooks who gain access to the data will put Aadhaar to nefarious use. Some 200 government entities have been shamed for publishing private Aadhaar data, and more than one private firm with licensed access to Aadhaar data has been caught using it for purposes other than those agreed. Now proof has emerged that the whole database is not as watertight as claimed.
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German elite police unit plans expansion as risk of attacks rises

German elite police unit plans expansion as risk of attacks rises | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Germany's elite special police unit is hiring more staff and will open a new center in Berlin because the threat of militant attacks in the capital is higher than in the west of the country where it is currently based, its chief said on Monday.
William Kelley's comment, January 17, 2:46 PM
What an interesting article. Considering German law-enforcement's reputation, I would not have expected and shortcomings in the way of a tactical unit. It begs the question of not if, but what shortcomings we see in American policing.
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Stockton hopes to curb gun, gang violence through monetary incentives

Stockton hopes to curb gun, gang violence through monetary incentives | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Stockton is moving forward with a million-dollar effort to reduce shootings by training and paying suspected violent offenders to put down their weapons and make something of their lives.

Council members voted 6-1 in favor of the program, which promises to decrease gun violence, after a heated public comment session during Tuesday's city council meeting.

The program is called Advance Peace and aims to curb gang violence in the city. Program leaders will recruit 50 Stockton residents who have been identified as at a high risk to commit crime.

The same program was adopted by Sacramento in August.

Here are five things to know about Stockton’s new agreement with Advance Peace:

1) Taxpayers won’t pay a dime for it.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs was able to recruit funding from four philanthropic organizations to cover the cost.

2) The program targets Stockton's gun violence problem.

The number of people killed in shootings within the city may be going down, but gun violence is as bad as it was in 2012.

55 people were killed in 2017
49 were killed in 2016, 2015, 2014
32 were killed in 2013
71 were killed in 2012
The Advance Peace program is designed to work with people in the city who have been identified as most at risk to commit gun violence.

3) Participants will be eligible for up to $1,000 a month.

The program lasts 18 months. After the first six months, participants who reach certain benchmarks will receive financial incentives to stay on track.

4) Stockton police are not taking a stance on the program.

Stockton police spokesperson Joe Silva released the following statement on the Advance Peace program:

"We're always looking at best practices to reducing violence.  While not a police department program, we are looking forward to seeing the research from this type of program."

5) Advance Peace vows to create a major reduction in gun violence.

The program promises to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the number of shootings over four years.

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Can fruit and veggies cut crime? Police and nonprofit are giving it a try

Can fruit and veggies cut crime? Police and nonprofit are giving it a try | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Whether cops helping feed the needy actually cuts down on crime is a hard thing to quantify.

But almost everyone agrees on this: A Miami police effort, working with the nonprofit food distribution group Farm Share, has made cops and some poor communities they serve at least a little bit closer. Some people who once wouldn’t talk with officers on the beat now do.

“It’s mutually beneficial,” Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes said Friday morning as officers worked with Farm Share volunteers to distribute food to 1,000 people in downtown Miami. “It’s a good opportunity for us to engage with folks. We help each other out.”

Farm Share is a government-supported organization that works with the United States Department of Agriculture to distribute surplus food — much of it fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded because it wasn’t up to supermarket standards. Bananas, for instance, might be too small or apples slightly discolored. Farmers get tax credits in exchange for food they donate.
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Klansman convicted in 'Mississippi Burning' case dies in prison

Klansman convicted in 'Mississippi Burning' case dies in prison | Criminology and Economic Theory |
A Klansman found guilty for his role in the 1964 Freedom Summer killings of three civil rights workers has died in prison, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Edgar Ray Killen, a part-time Baptist minister and the plot leader, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter nearly 13 years ago in Mississippi and imprisoned.
Krista Scott's comment, Today, 12:34 AM
WOW I heard this was one of the most prominent cases we had when the civil rights movement was going on . It is a little upsetting to see that the 8 other guys didnt serve no more than 6 years. It was also interesting to see that it 40 years for Killen to serve his rightful time.
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Predicting Murder in Chicago

Predicting Murder in Chicago | Criminology and Economic Theory |
What if a murder could be predicted? What if police could intervene with the future victim or future killer? In Chicago, an experimental computer program is trying to do just that.

It's called predictive policing and the city is counting on it to ease some of the worst gun violence there since the 1990's. There were 650 murders in the year just ended, that's more than New York City and Los Angeles combined. The computer program spits out the names of those most likely to shoot or be shot. Police say the results are uncanny. But it's what Chicago does with the data that is saving lives.
Rob Duke's insight:
You'd need a lot of data points.  Probably more than we can currently provide.  I could see you crowd-sourcing the data if people could scan a bar code to report incidents in their community (even road rage or gang squabbles would help in terms of useful conflict data points).
Kimber Elena Andruss's comment, January 15, 8:00 PM
While I think that predicting crimes, in theory, could be extremely beneficial to communities as well as public service officials, many things in theory do not play out as well in practical use. I think that the amount of data needed for this to be an even moderately useful tool would be astronomical. Additionally, there is the constant problem of falsified data or results; what is to prevent this predictive tool from being used maliciously or in a prejudiced manner? (Think, Minority Report and other futuristic crime settings.) A perfect system could be incredibly useful to the prevention of crime, but could in no way ever truly eliminate crime or the tendency toward it.
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What people want at the end of life

What people want at the end of life | Criminology and Economic Theory |

IN 2016 The Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation, an American non-profit focused on health care, polled people in America, Brazil, Italy and Japan about their hopes and worries for their end-of-life wishes.

We found that what is most important to people at the end depends on where they live. In America and Japan not burdening families with the costs of care was the highest-ranked priority. (The Japanese may be worrying about the cost of funerals, which can easily reach ¥3m, or $24,000; Americans may be worrying about medical bills, which can be ruinous.) In Brazil, where Catholicism prevails, the leading priority was being at peace spiritually. What Italians wanted most at the end was to have their loved ones around them. Doctors’ efforts to extend life near its end may not always be aligned with their patients' priorities: living as long as possible was deemed least important of the seven things that we asked about, except in Brazil where it tied with not burdening relatives financially.

The majority of people in each country had given “some” or “a great deal” of thought to their wishes for medical treatment in case of serious illness. But having spoken with their families about the subject was much less common, and putting wishes down in writing even rarer. Americans were most likely to have planned ahead: 56% had spoken with a loved one about the medical treatment they want if they were to become seriously ill; 27% had put their wishes in a written document. The Japanese were the most likely to have avoided the subject, even though Japan has the world’s oldest population. Less than a third had told their families about their wishes in case of serious illness and only 6% had put those wishes in writing.

In all four countries we polled, there was a huge discrepancy between what people wanted and what they expected to happen to them at the end. Majorities in each said that if they could choose where to die, they would die at home. Americans felt that particularly strongly, with nearly two-thirds preferring to die at home. In each of the four countries, however, the share who thought they were most likely to die at home fell about 30 percentage points short of the share who hoped to. By contrast, expecting to die in hospital was far more common than wishing to die there.

Around the world, the taboo on talking about death is starting to fade. Over time, that should help narrow the gap between what people want for their deaths, and what they are likely to get. As our editorial argues, though death is inevitable, a bad death is not.

Rob Duke's insight:
Another article that speaks to a culture's understanding of the "good life".
William Kelley's comment, January 17, 2:58 PM
It is certainly not a 'small talk' topic. One thing that could have been asked also, is what they wanted to die doing.
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A statistical analysis of the art on convicts’ bodies

A statistical analysis of the art on convicts’ bodies | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Individuals choose to write stuff on their bodies—or erase it—because of what that specific tattoo means to them. But the prevalence of tattooing in America’s prison population means that, in principle, it should be possible to formulate general rules about what people say on their bodies, too—to add a statistical meaning to the tattoo’s biographical, or simply graphical, one. The Economist decided to investigate what inferences about a life of crime it might be possible to draw from different types, and numbers, of tattoos.

The websites of many state prisons feature public, searchable databases of their inmates. The data usually include their names, height, weight, demographics, criminal histories, and, sometimes, whether or not they have any distinguishing marks, including tattoos. The most impressive of these, for our purposes, was that of the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC): a downloadable database featuring records for all the 100,000 inmates currently incarcerated in the Florida state prison system. It provides a great deal of detail on their markings as well as their ethnicity, age and crimes. With a few lines of code it is possible to discover what tattoos a particular Florida inmate has, and where on their body they are located.

The most obvious thing these data show is just how common tattoos are. Our tabulations of the data show that three-quarters of the Florida prison population has at least one tattoo; the median inmate has three. The data also confirm how generational criminal tattoos are: a whopping 85% of prisoners under 35 have tattoos compared with 43% for prisoners aged 55 and over. In the public at large the rate is 23%. The majority of these tattoos have no explicit associations with the criminal world. The most popular designs and motifs include names, animals, mythical creatures (dragons and unicorns are especially voguish) and Christian symbols such as crosses, rosary beads and scrolls with verses from scripture.

If people’s ethnicity and sex determines their tattoos, can the same be said of their types of crime? Using data from the FDOC, The Economist built a series of statistical models to predict the likelihood criminals had committed particular crimes based on their demographic traits and choices of tattoos (see table).

Our analysis finds that inmates convicted of property crimes and weapons-possession offences have the most tattoos, while sex offenders, particularly those convicted of paedophilia, tend to have the fewest. Inmates with at least one tattoo were actually 9% less likely to have been incarcerated for murder than those without. The effect is even more pronounced for those with tattoos on the head or face, who are around 30% less likely to be murderers. Similar associations can be found for perpetrators of domestic crimes. Those relationships hold even after controlling for age, race and sex.

Some prison-specific motifs are also more common among the less violent. These include tattoos of clocks without hands, prison walls and spider webs, all reflecting the tedium of incarceration, and a popular tattoo depicting the thespian masks of comedy and tragedy along with the slogan “Laugh now, cry later”. Such tattoos are positively associated with low-level offences, but negatively associated with homicide.

Inmates with Christian tattoos—that is, those inked with images or passages from scripture—do seem to be slightly more virtuous. They are 10% less likely to be murderers than those without (this result holds regardless of any difference in types of crime committed between Hispanic and other prisoners). But though the godly may be slightly more good, the devilish are not obviously more evil; tattoos featuring pentagrams or images of Satan are not statistically significant predictors of homicidal tendencies.

Kevin Waters, a criminologist at Northern Michigan University and former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, notes that understanding which tattoos are purely aesthetic and which are signals can be a lot of help to law enforcement, distinguishing truly hardened criminals from posers—gang members do not take kindly to outsiders adopting their imagery. What can tattoos more directly associated with criminality tell us about an inmate?

A common Florida prison tattoo, predominantly seen on Hispanics, features three dots between the thumb and index finger. The tattoo is shorthand for mi vida loca, or “my crazy life”, and its wearers are 45% more likely to have been jailed for murder. Members of the Latin Kings, the largest gang in Florida, often sport tattoos of a five-pointed crown or the letters “ALKN”, which stands for “Almighty Latin King Nation”. Our analysis shows that inmates bearing such tattoos are especially dangerous—they are 89% more likely to be killers.

The truth in black and grey

Nazi imagery is the most obvious characteristic of white prison gangs, but they also favour classically European images ranging from four-leafed clovers to the Valknut, a Viking symbol comprised of three interlocking triangles. Perhaps because of their ubiquity, white-supremacist imagery is not as predictive of murder charges as some other tattoos—still, we find that inmates bearing such symbols were 19% more likely to be murderers.

Picking up on your cellmate’s record from his skin is doubtless a useful skill for those inside. Policymakers, though, may care more about what tattoos say about the future than what they reveal about the past. Nearly half of inmates released from federal prisons and placed under supervision, and three-quarters of those from state prisons, are rearrested within five years of release. Demographics serve as depressingly effective predictors of recidivism. At the federal level, eight years after release, men are 43% more likely to be taken back under arrest than women; African-Americans are 42% more likely than whites, and high-school dropouts are three times more likely to be rearrested than college graduates.

How do tattoos fit in the picture? In a study published in 2013 Mr Waters, along with fellow researchers William Bales and Thomas Blomberg, looked at the link between recidivism and the presence of tattoos in Florida prisoners. They found that after controlling for demographics and crimes committed, inmates with tattoos were 42% more likely to be re-incarcerated for committing a violent crime. A subsequent study by Kaitlyn Harger, now of Florida Gulf Coast University, found that upon release, ex-cons with tattoos could be expected to last just 2.4 years outside prison before being re-incarcerated, compared with 5.8 years for those without. The effect was especially pronounced for those with tattoos on the hands and face.

Our own analysis of Florida prison data corroborates previous research. We find that of the 60,000 first-term prisoners released between 1998 and 2002, 45% have since landed themselves back in prison. Tattoos are unreasonably effective predictors of recidivism: we find that of the inmates who have been re-incarcerated, 75% percent had tattoos. Just 30% of the former convicts who have managed to stay out of prison were noted as having tattoos. Gang life looks notably hard to escape. Eighty-one per cent of those recorded with Latin Kings tattoos were rearrested at least once after their initial release.

Predictive as they may be, it would be hard and probably foolish to argue that the tattoos cause the recidivism; far more likely that both reflect something else about character and circumstance. Similarly, tattoo-removal programmes seem unlikely in and of themselves to make anyone an intrinsically better person. But they can reflect a genuine investment in change (remember those burning rubber bands) and they may also help reduce the amount of discrimination reformed ex-cons face.

As tattoos permeate the mainstream, though, being ink-free may mean less and less. Attitudes towards tattoos are liberalising: in a study that the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank, released in 2010 38% of Americans aged 18-29 had tattoos, compared with 15% for those aged 46-64. Indeed, an intriguing example of their mainstreaming can be seen in the influence of Californian prison gangs on tattoo culture at large.

Tattooing behind bars is prohibited. This does not come close to stopping it; but it does mean inmates must be creative when it comes to art supplies. One constraint is ink, which often has to be improvised from materials like boot polish or the soot from burned textiles—say, cotton. Such sources limit artists to monochromatic tattoos.

Finding the right tools can be challenging too, as hand-poking a tattoo on one point at a time can be both laborious and painful. A breakthrough came in the 1970s when inmates in California discovered how to create improvised tattoo guns using the motors from cassette players. The new gadgets made tattooing behind bars quicker, but featured only a single needle, which made drawing thick lines more difficult.

These constraints, along with the aesthetic sensibilities of Hispanic prison gangs, led to an entirely new style of tattoo—the “black and grey”. The style’s thin lines and colourless palette was put to the service of more realistic imagery than Americans had previously been accustomed to. The style quickly spread to prisons in other states—and then to the outside world.

Freddy Negrete, one of the original pioneers of the black and grey when an inmate (and the originator of the “Laugh now, cry later” motif), notes that initially, people on the outside got the tattoos so as to look as if they had been in prison. But he suspects that the hipsters and celebrities he now tattoos in the same style at his parlour on Sunset Boulevard know nothing of the style’s origin.

Nor, it seems likely, would most of them feel comfortable around the gang members from whom their style of tattoo is derived. Walking through the doors of Homeboy Industries is a jarring experience for those who have no previous experience of a life of crime beyond the occasional speeding violation: the dozens of former convicts decorated with images of skulls and Aztec warriors in the lobby look pretty forbidding. Some are inked from head to toe. Very few are keen on eye contact.

But walking through those doors for job advice, for a tattoo removal, or for any sort of help can be just as difficult. The staff, many of them former convicts themselves, are eager to help, but the criminal life is not one which fosters trust in others. Many former convicts have too much pride to ask for help. Others are convinced that they can never reform themselves. But for those who can muster up the courage, removing the marks of a prison tattoo can be the ultimate act of rebellion.

Rob Duke's insight:
This is a long post, but I gleaned out much of what seemed not to speak directly to the question of the predictive ability of tattoos to link with future criminality:

Location and content are the big indicators.  Face and neck and specific gangs or imagery are to be looked for....

Nearly all can be helped by removing tattoos from visible areas.
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Pope in Chilean sexual abuse cover-up row

Pope in Chilean sexual abuse cover-up row | Criminology and Economic Theory |
It wasn't all marriages on airplanes. The Pope has caused outrage on his visit to Chile by refusing to condemn Bishop Juan Barros, who stands accused of a cover-up.
Manisha Misra's comment, January 19, 11:58 PM
Sexual assault and the denial of it seems to be a really hot topic around the world right now. It, however, does not seem crazy to me at all that this happened. Victims and survivors can come forward all they want, but without concrete proof people will still play the "he said, she said" card and write it off as though it's nothing. It's incredible to me, though, that this is in regards to what seems to be an extremely well known to be pedophile. It doesn't surprise me that the Pope is refusing to speak about it without proof, I feel as though this has happened several times in history.
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A woman confesses after cops spot murder weapon in her Facebook photo

A woman confesses after cops spot murder weapon in her Facebook photo | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Cheyenne Antoine, 21, confessed this week to killing her friend during an argument in 2015
Meaghan Tucker's comment, January 19, 3:37 AM
I don't believe that she got the sentence she should have. The incident happend in 2015. She lied multiple times in those years, even getting her uncle to lie for her and with holding evidence from the police. She was intoxicated that night, but she had clearly knew that she did it. She then only admitted to killing her because she finally got caught! She should have gotten charged with the second degree murder and gotten more time then the 7 years.
Krista Scott's comment, Today, 12:02 AM
Okay...this was an interesting case I think the fact the it took only a Facebook post to close the case is pretty cool. However, I wonder why they didn't figure out sooner the story was questionable. Im a little bit shocked at the sentencing but the fact that the District Attorney explained the reason for the light sentence and it really stood out to me that Canada wants to make sure at the end of the day citizens are protected but as well as the offenders are getting the right rehabilitation they need to be successful.
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Busted: cocaine-filled pineapple ring

Busted: cocaine-filled pineapple ring | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Spanish and Portuguese police have seized more than 700 kg of cocaine wrapped in pineapple skins and shipped from South America.
Manisha Misra's comment, Today, 12:02 AM
It is absolutely amazing what lengths will people go to for operations like this. I wonder how they even thought to hide all the cocaine in pineapples. I also wonder what other strange things they've hidden drugs in for transport purposes and how long the operation had been going on before officials caught wind and began investigating.
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The people who shaped Islamic civilisation

The people who shaped Islamic civilisation | Criminology and Economic Theory |

Coverage of violence and Islam often go hand in hand. So it comes as a relief to be reminded that historically, culturally and intellectually, Islam is less a nihilistic creed than a global civilisation. A new book by Chase Robinson, which includes 30 pen-portraits of significant figures in Islamic history, is an elegant digest of the many colourful, creative and technologically innovative manifestations that the Prophet Muhammad inspired from his seventh-century oases in the Arabian peninsula. 

The warriors and potentates are there, of course. Starting with Muhammad and ending with Shah Ismail 900 years later, they bookend the narrative. But in Robinson’s telling their martial arts are secondary to their aesthetic ones. Muhammad is celebrated not for his battlefield victories but his verse. Abd al-Malik, the caliph who took Cyprus, was better known to Islamic chroniclers for building Jerusalem’s majestic Dome of the Rock and, less appealingly, halitosis so severe it could kill a fly. Mahmoud of Ghazni, the jihadist who conquered the Hindu kingdoms of north-western India, was admired for decorating Islam’s eastern periphery with gardens. (“You have strung the wild rose with patterns of pearls,” oozed a court poet.) Timur, the Mongol “sheep-rustler and world-conqueror”, built towers of skulls but also the soaring, sublime mosques of Samarkand. Sultan Mehmed II, the Ottoman conqueror of Constantinople, was “a renaissance man”.

As fascinating as the fighters are the characters in the courts they patronised. Robinson’s cast includes free-thinking physicians and biologists, calligraphers, cartographers (including Muhammad al-Idrisi, below), historians and poets. Though Muhammad himself was illiterate, his tradition was steeped in letters. One of his Suras, or Koranic chapters, was called “the Pen”. By tradition, the first man, Adam, fashioned the first pen, and Ali, the prophet’s son-in-law and successor, coined his own Arabic script.

Tycoons and businessmen are present, too: in the ninth century, as now, manufacturers were complaining of the Chinese dumping mass-produced kitchenware on their markets. Women also make an appearance, as mystics, courtesans and scholars. Beneath the arches of Mecca’s mosques, Karima al-Marwiziyya led Koranic study circles for both sexes. After all, she might have noted, many of the Prophet’s companions and preservers of Islamic traditions were themselves women.

What emerges is a civilisation that was a marketplace of ideas as well as goods. “Urbanisation and literacy was said to be a distinctly modern phenomenon,” says Robinson, “but that is wrong”. Rather the Islamic world, he says, epitomised “globalisation before its time”, “cultural cosmopolitanism”, “a world of cross-pollination” and capitalism. Rich from trade, its cities were the world’s finest. In the ninth century, Baghdad mushroomed as rapidly as Manhattan a millennium later, with intrigue, sex and irreverence no less a part of its makeup. Thirty thousand gondolas plied the Tigris. Another Islamic capital, Cordoba, was the greatest city in Europe and produced some of the greatest minds: without the 12th-century rationalist, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), whose defence of Aristotelian philosophy against orthodox theologians influenced people like Thomas Aquinas, the Enlightenment might never have happened.

Through his portraits, Robinson debunks two modern myths about Islam. Salafists, the puritans who dominate 21st-century Islamic discourse, champion the Prophet Muhammad as the founder of a pristine, uniform faith which every Muslim should aspire to replicate. In Robinson’s rendition, the Islam the Prophet bequeathed was amorphous, inchoate and confused. Bereft of their founder, the Muslim community squabbled over not just the niceties of law, but who should rule and how. Muhammad’s favourite wife and his son-in-law fought pitched battles over his succession. The faith was also deeply syncretic: it expanded by absorbing the traditions of the peoples who fell under its rule. Its first rulers saw nothing incompatible between an upright Islamic existence and wine-drinking. Too often the source material was too skimpy to answer basic questions. The literalist Andalusian politician and scholar, Ibn Hazm, for instance, argued against the biblical death penalty for homosexuality, saying that nowhere was it prescribed in the Koran. (Ten lashes, he suggested, might be more fitting.) Only centuries later did the faith congeal into something akin to today’s orthodoxy. 

The second myth Robinson punctures is one often propounded by orientalists: that the tightening grip of orthodoxy led to Islam’s supposed inexorable decline. In the tenth century, Abu Bakr al-Razi, a Persian alchemist and physician, wrote a tractate, “On the fraudulence of prophets”, asserting the primacy of reason over revelation and deriding the prophets as imposters and storytellers. Only his defence that reason was a gift of God spared him charges of blasphemy. The following century, Al-Biruni published perhaps the greatest classical account of comparative religion, citing Greek, Persian and Sanskrit aphorisms alongside the sayings of the Prophet. Five centuries before Daniel Defoe, Ibn Tufayl wrote a story about a boy who grew up on a desert island. Without revelation, his metaphor shows, humans develop as rational beings.  

By the 14th century, Islam’s centre of gravity had shifted to Istanbul, but its courts continued to attract the world’s leading scientists and artists and remained at the cutting-edge of medical advances and military technology. After a familiar bout of devastation, Mongol rule ushered in fresh investments in science, particularly its 13th-century observatory at Maragheh, whose findings underpinned Copernicus’s models of the universe. Multiculturalism, perhaps even trans-confessionalism, remained a familiar trope of Islamic rule. Alternating between Sunni and Shiite rites, the Mongols’ faith felt remarkably fluid. Uljeitu’s vizier was Rashid al-Din, an Iranian-born Jewish convert to Islam, who assembled a warehouse of global researchers near Tabriz in the 14th century and set them to work on “an industrial-sized” history of the world, the “Compendium of Chronicles”. Its encyclopaedic breadth is a composite of texts drawn from Hebrew scholars (apparently translated by Rashid al-Din himself), Kashmiri monks, Chinese envoys and perhaps the most sympathetic account of Buddha in a non-Buddhist text. More than 2,000 miles away in Tunis, Ibn Khaldoun penned a social history which for the first time ditched the composition of court chronicles to examine the causes behind historical events.

There are, of course, characters closer to the caricatures of modern-day Muslim fundamentalists. Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya, a 14th-century judge in Damascus and Alexandria, railed against the Mongols for favouring Shiism and applying their own yassa law, not Sharia – a sin which, he declared, rendered them apostates. When the Sunni Mamluk authorities he favoured overlooked a Christian’s insults against the Prophet, he agitated the mob to demand his beheading. A bit-player in his time, the Salafists have elevated him to centre-stage today, ranking his teachings alongside the Prophet’s in Saudi Arabia’s core curriculum. Islam’s most zealous detractors and practitioners alike could do worse than to recall Robinson’s other 29 characters too.

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A court case exposes Singapore’s Victorian attitudes to families

A court case exposes Singapore’s Victorian attitudes to families | Criminology and Economic Theory |

IT SOUNDS like something out of a Lewis Carroll novel. First, a father had to petition the courts to be allowed to adopt his own biological son, who was born in America with the help of a surrogate, and thus was not automatically considered his child under Singaporean law. Then on December 26th a judge ruled that the adoption would not be allowed. That, in turn, prevents the child, who lives in Singapore with his Singaporean father and his father’s Singaporean partner, from becoming a Singaporean citizen. Instead each year his parents will have to apply for temporary leave for him to remain. As well as being topsy-turvy, the case feels like a scene from “Alice in Wonderland” in another way: the Singaporean government’s attitude to families is remarkably Victorian.

The two men involved in the case did not have a child lightly. After they had been a couple for 15 years and had lived together for nine, they looked into adopting, but found that an “unwritten policy” barred gay couples from adopting in Singapore (as written ones did until recently in much of the West). What is more, an unwed, heterosexual man can only adopt a boy. After much research, the couple paid $200,000 to an American firm to help them conceive abroad. “We thought that in starting our family, the best way was surrogacy,” says one.

But under Singaporean law, any child born to an unmarried couple (including all gay ones) is deemed illegitimate. That means the parents do not receive a “baby bonus” from the state or certain tax breaks accorded to the parents of legitimate children. The child does not automatically inherit anything when both parents die. The family will have a harder time gaining access to public housing. And illegitimate children born abroad to a Singaporean father are not automatically entitled to Singaporean citizenship, depriving them of yet more benefits.

In her ruling, which the couple plan to appeal, Shobha Nair, the judge, tut-tutted about “the use of money to encourage the movement of life from one hand to another” (payment for adoption is illegal in Singapore). But many heterosexual Singaporean couples conceive using foreign surrogates each year, although they may attempt to conceal this from the authorities.

Ms Nair also excoriated the pair for trying to find a way to start a family, or for “walking through the back door of the system when the front door was firmly shut”. She claimed that “it is no place of this Court to dictate to the applicant what a family unit ought to…look like,” even as her ruling firmly laid out that the ideal family unit, in the eyes of the Singaporean state, entails the marriage of a man to a woman.

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Danish man charged with killing reporter on his submarine

Danish man charged with killing reporter on his submarine | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Inventor Peter Madsen was charged Tuesday with killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall during a trip on his private submarine, with prosecutors saying he either cut her throat or strangled her before dismembering her body and dumping it into the sea.

Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen called the case "very unusual and extremely disturbing."

Madsen, 47, is charged with murder, dismemberment and indecent handling of a corpse for the way he disposed of Wall's body. He is also charged with having sexual relations with Wall, 30, of a "particularly dangerous nature" before she was killed.

The charges were made public by the Danish prosecution authority.

Buch-Jepsen said the killing was premeditated. Prosecutors will urge that Madsen be sentenced to life in prison, or be locked up in a secure mental facility if deemed necessary by psychiatrists for as long as he's considered sick and dangerous to others.

"There is much technical evidence but I won't go into details right now," Buch-Jepsen told a brief news conference. He also declined to comment on Madsen's motive.

"Evidence must be presented in court and not in the media," he said, adding he also didn't want to comment out of respect for Wall's family.

Madsen's defense lawyer Betina Hald Engmark had no immediate comment in reaction to the charges, adding her client still denies murdering Wall.

Madsen and Wall had gone on a trip in Madsen's submarine on Aug. 10. Wall, who was working on a story about Madsen, was last seen aboard the vessel as it left Copenhagen. The next day, Madsen — an entrepreneur who once dreamed of launching a manned space mission — was rescued from the sinking submarine without Wall.

Police believe he deliberately sank the vessel.
Rob Duke's insight:
Here's a great Civil Law System case to follow this semester.  The murder occurred in August and the police and prosecutors have built their case in the last 4 months.  Now the court proceedings will progress in a fairly rapid fashion as compared with U.S. courts.
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Bill would award workers’ comp to off-duty CA cops injured in Vegas shooting and other out-of-state crimes

Bill would award workers’ comp to off-duty CA cops injured in Vegas shooting and other out-of-state crimes | Criminology and Economic Theory |
California police officers wounded in October’s Las Vegas mass shooting while off-duty could receive public injury benefits under a bill introduced by an Anaheim state assemblyman.

Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, who introduced the bill on Jan. 3, said he authored the legislation after Orange County denied workers’ compensation claims from four of its sheriff’s deputies injured during the shooting. County attorneys have said state law doesn’t allow them to extend such benefits to the wounded deputies because the officers were off-duty concertgoers and out of state when they were injured.

Daly’s bill, AB 1749, changes language in the state’s labor code so it clearly requires workers’ compensation benefits to be paid to California police officers injured off duty while responding to out-of-state crimes and life-threatening emergencies. Daly has said he thinks state law already requires cities and counties to pay those benefits and that his bill simply clarifies the law’s intent so that California officers injured in the Las Vegas shooting can receive aid.
Rob Duke's insight:
It only makes sense with the 5-state compact giving officers jurisdiction 50 miles into the neighboring states.  Also, officers routinely pick up prisoners from out of state, so this will continue to be a problem for a few officers every year.
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Tobacco shops associated with crime in urban communities of color

Tobacco shops associated with crime in urban communities of color | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Tobacco shops, also known as smoke shops, may represent potential "nuisance properties" in urban communities of color, a study led by a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has found. Nuisance properties are properties where unsafe activities affecting public health and safety occur repeatedly.

Past research has shown that alcohol outlets such as liquor or corner stores may promote nuisance activities like robberies, drug use, or other crimes in urban communities, rendering them unsafe for residents to walk by or visit. Other examples of nuisance properties are motels, payday lenders, and vacant homes and lots. Add to this list now tobacco shops.

"We know alcohol outlets can be associated with unsafe nuisance activities in urban areas, but this study appears to be the first to suggest U.S. tobacco shops may also impact public health," said Andrew Subica, Ph.D., an assistant professor of social medicine, population, and public health in the School of Medicine, who led the study that focused on South Los Angeles, Calif. "Our analyses show that in South Los Angeles tobacco shops as well as liquor stores were associated with high levels of violent and property crime around their locations. This finding is important because tobacco shops are common in many cities, but until this study have not been viewed as possible public health threats. "
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Japanese Cops Say Logan Paul Videos Broke the Law—and They’d Just Love to Nail Him

Japanese Cops Say Logan Paul Videos Broke the Law—and They’d Just Love to Nail Him | Criminology and Economic Theory |
One of Japan’s most decorated former police officers, Taihei Ogawa, author of The Detective Who Pursued Burglars, was not reluctant to speak. In fact, in response to an email from The Daily Beast, he called enthusiastically around midnight Japan time to give his take on the matter.  

“This kind of behavior sets a terrible precedent before the 2020 Olympics. If other people see these videos and think they can get away with doing this in Japan, it won’t end well,” he cautions. “There are numerous possible illegal acts in his videos, but here are the ones I think are most likely to merit investigation and prosecution.”

Mr. Ogawa then dissected the clips from the standpoint of a veteran detective.

“He throws a Japanese persimmon at the wall in his hotel and stains it. Not only a waste of a good persimmon but that’s destruction of property, one count. There are more.”

Ogawa notes several violations of the Road Traffic Laws.

“He runs a red light and puts his hands in a car stopped at the crossing. That’s a traffic violation–and one of many. Even tossing a ball into the basket of a moving bicycle is a traffic violation, which he does. Sleeping in the middle of the road—another. Throwing stuffed animals at a car, another.  He’s a traffic cop’s worst nightmare—or maybe a dream come true, if they really like their job.”

In addition to this, Paul may also be guilty of “forcible obstruction of business operations.”

“At the fish market, he jumps on board a conveyor cart without permission. He then jumps on the back of a truck. He takes raw fish and an octopus and pushes them against the windows at Shibuya Crossing’s video rental shop, Tsutaya, bothering customers. He carries the sea food into a western clothing store with him and touches the clothing―which is not only interfering with business, that could also be an additional count of destruction of property. The smell must have been awful.”

Ogawa notes that in practice police don’t investigate obstruction of business cases unless the victim has filed a criminal complaint. If public outcry was loud enough, though, the police might encourage the businesses to file.

Even without criminal charges, Paul still seems to be in trouble. “He pulls down his pants in the middle of the street and appears to be butt naked,” notes Ogawa. “There’s a mosaic covering the video, so it’s not clear if his chin-chin is showing, but if that was the case, that’s public obscenity.”

As Daily Beast readers know, Japan’s police take public indecency quite seriously. Megumi Igarashi, the so-called “vagina artist,” was nabbed and held in custody for weeks when she made 3D images of her genitalia.

In the videos, Paul also throws Pokemon balls at numerous people, including a policeman. “They’re soft balls. It would be hard to call that assault,” said one veteran cop. “However, it’s a jackass thing to do. And throwing them at a very tolerant police officer doesn’t win him points with us.”

Ogawa has some harsh words for Paul. “It’s not an issue that you’re Japanese or a foreigner—but that you’re breaking the law. And you’re showing these lawless acts to thousands of people who follow you on YouTube, which sets a bad example. Even if you did things as a prank, you damaged property, you bothered people, you obstructed the work of innocent people trying to make an honest living, you were rude to many and you were a pain in the ass. If the hotel wanted to press charges, any police department would follow up on it—and you have uploaded the evidence for them.”

Ogawa says that the small scale of Paul’s crimes would not likely result in an international arrest warrant. However, as long as Paul is not in Japan, “the statute of limitations doesn’t kick in. Ten years from now he could still be arrested.”

If Paul comes back, Ogawa predicts that it is highly likely he would be asked by the police to come in for questioning. If he refused to come in voluntarily, he’d probably be arrested. And once someone is caught up in the wheels of the Japanese justice system, where you often are presumed guilty until proven guilty, they don’t get out easily. He advises Paul that he should send his lawyers in advance to settle accounts, if he ever wants to come back to Japan.
Rob Duke's insight:
An insight into Japanese culture, policing, and maybe a little about the "ugly American"....
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Why Italy has not yet suffered Islamist terrorism

Why Italy has not yet suffered Islamist terrorism | Criminology and Economic Theory |

THE image is of a young man with his back turned, grasping a large knife. Beside him in stark white capitals are the Italian words “Devi combatterli” (“You must fight them”). The photo-montage, circulated in late August on Telegram, the favoured communications app of Islamic State (IS), is a blatant incitement to “lone wolves” to kill Italians. It was reproduced on the website of Site Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist communications, days after a video circulated of masked, IS-affiliated guerrillas in the Philippines sacking a Roman Catholic church and ripping up a picture of Pope Francis.

“You. Kafir [Infidel]. Remember this,” says a masked figure, wagging his finger at the camera. “We will be in Rome, inshallah.” His threat, from 10,000km away, may be far-fetched. The attraction for jihadists of an attack on the seat of Western Christendom is certainly not. So it is remarkable that Italy should not have experienced a single deadly jihadist attack when Britain, France, Germany and Spain have all been targeted—not least because it undermines the argument for a link between illegal immigration and terrorism (in the first half of 2017, Italy accounted for 82% of unauthorised arrivals in Europe).

The most colourful explanation for the Italian exception is that Italy’s mafias have quietly deterred jihadists from gaining a toehold. The defect of that idea, says Arturo Varvelli of the Milan-based Institute for International Political Studies, a think-tank, is that Italy’s mobsters exert greater control in the south, whereas a sizeable majority of its Muslims live in the north.

“To some extent, it is the Mafia,” says a senior law-enforcement official. “But not in the way most people mean.” The fight against Italy’s formidably organised criminals has given its police a wealth of experience in monitoring tightly knit target groups. It was enhanced by the campaign to subdue the left- and right-wing terrorists who wrought havoc in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s. Organised crime and terrorism have also encouraged judges to take a more expansive attitude than in other European countries to issuing warrants for wiretaps and particularly to the electronic surveillance of suspects’ conversations. Italy’s recent history may also explain its hardline approach to apologists for terrorism.

On September 24th, when a Boeing 737 took off from Bologna airport bound for Tirana, the capital of Albania, it carried the 209th person to be expelled from Italy since the start of 2015 for reasons of “religious extremism”. The 22-year-old Muslim had been released from custody a day earlier, after being arrested for trying to persuade worshippers not to enter a church. He had been under constant police scrutiny since first being detained in 2016.

But, as Italian law-enforcement agents readily concede, they have fewer suspects to monitor than their French and British counterparts, and that is only partly because large numbers have been deported. The number of IS “foreign fighters” from each European country offers a guide to radicalisation. A study for the American National Bureau of Economic Research, using figures from 2014-15, found only 87 foreign fighters from Italy, compared with 760 from Britain and perhaps 2,500 from France (all three countries have similar populations). That, argues Mr Varvelli, is for two reasons. First, few of Italy’s Muslim immigrants belong to the second generation, which is the most susceptible to radicalisation (0.3% of Italian residents are second-generation immigrants of non-EU origin, against 3% in Britain and 3.9% in France). Second, Italy has no Muslim ghettos like the French banlieues.

Michele Groppi, who teaches at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, points to a third important factor: evidence to suggest that, while al-Qaeda was the dominant force in the jihadist world, it used Italy as its logistical base in Europe. “That is what kept us safe; they needed us,” he says. The situation has changed since: several jihadists who have recently attained notoriety have had links to Italy. Among them is Youssef Zaghba, a Moroccan-born Italian and one of the three terrorists who used a truck and some knives to kill eight people on and around London Bridge on June 3rd. Mr Groppi worries that if Libya were to become the next theatre of jihadist insurgency, Italy and the Vatican could become prime targets.

William Kelley's comment, January 17, 3:12 PM
Definitely some points to be taken into consideration for other countries. I am curious as to how Italy has no Muslim ghettos, either from abolition or it has been illegal all along?
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After 18 years, Grants Pass woman finds her sister was murdered in 1999 cold case

After 18 years, Grants Pass woman finds her sister was murdered in 1999 cold case | Criminology and Economic Theory |
It was eight months ago that a Chastity Pinedo received a mysterious message from an Arizona detective about a cold case dating back to 1999.A DNA revealed the victim in the case was her sister.The case dates back almost two decades, when a woman's body wa
Kimber Elena Andruss's comment, January 15, 8:05 PM
I cannot imagine the amount of closure that this brought Angel's family. While I cannot imagine the loss of a loved one, I think the constant wondering and possibility of "what if" would drive me completely insane. One of the most incredible things that has come with the advances of technology is the answers- and relief- that can be provided to family members and loved ones regarding their missing. When we think of DNA analysis, it's often in regard to the solving of crimes or absolving wrongfully convicted and freeing them. I think that society frequently forgets that the identities of victims are not just drifters or loners, but individuals withe someone somewhere who would at least like to know what happened. I am glad that Angel's family will be able to put her to rest.
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The Answer to Public Health Crises Might Be in the Sewer

The Answer to Public Health Crises Might Be in the Sewer | Criminology and Economic Theory |
Newsha Ghaeli and Mariana Matus’ big idea doesn’t exactly sound glamorous—but it might just revolutionize the way we handle public health issues.

Ghaeli, an MIT research fellow, and Matus, an MIT Ph.D. candidate, are the founders of Biobot Analytics, a startup that seeks to bring cities extensive, proactive public health data by capitalizing on the treasure trove of data hiding in urban sewer systems.

By analyzing samples from the sewer, Ghaeli says, Biobot is adapting individualized methods of studying the human microbiome “to the urban scale, and really looking at the sewer system as being analogous to the human gut. Everything’s naturally aggregating there, it’s naturally anonymized. It’s just a matter of getting it out and bringing it back to the lab.”

If you’re still skeptical, you’re not alone. Matus remembers pitching the idea to members of her lab, and initially hearing crickets. “Everybody in the lab was like, ‘Oh that’s just a silly idea, it’s never going to work, who would want to do that?” she remembers.

Fast-forward a little, though, and the duo—who just completed the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship’s Delta V accelerator program, which trains students to think and work like entrepreneurs—has brought on a number of additional staff members, and secured a 12-week pilot program with an as-yet-unannounced city in the Northeast. The company also recently deployed a prototype sampler in Cambridge, and has at least five other partner cities in the sales pipeline. The product is targeted toward cities of 100,000 people or more, and would take samples from areas with at least 4,000 residents to ensure both anonymity and scope of data.

For now, Biobot is focusing on extracting opioid consumption data from sewage. Ghaeli says having objective, ever-updating reads on drug use could help cities target prevention and treatment efforts, while also tracking the success of those programs over time. Beyond that, opioid abuse is a public health issue in serious need of innovation. When the team quizzed public health and government officials about the biggest issues plaguing their cities, “We got opioids across the board,” Ghaeli says.

In the future, however, Biobot could also tackle everything from antibiotic resistance trends to infectious disease outbreaks. It could even have major implications for developing nations struggling to build out wastewater infrastructure, Matus explains.
Rob Duke's insight:
This is an interesting data point that could become common info for police investigations combined with community policing.
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