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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: policing

Notable Criminal Justice Docs at Tribeca Film Festival

Nickie Phillips

When the most powerful lobbyist in Florida discovers that the nanny has sexually abused his daughter, he harnesses his extraordinary political power to pass the toughest sex offender laws in the nation. UNTOUCHABLE chronicles his crusade, and its impact on the lives of several of the 800,000 people forced to live under the kinds of laws he has championed.
— Untouchablefilm.com
 
In 2012, California amended its ‘Three Strikes’ law—one of the harshest criminal sentencing policies in the country. The passage of Prop. 36 marked the first time in U.S. history that citizens voted to shorten sentences of those currently incarcerated. Within days, the reintegration of thousands of ‘lifers’ was underway. The Return examines this unprecedented reform through the eyes of those on the front lines—prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, reentry providers helping navigate complex transitions, and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law.
— The Return Project
Do Not Resist is an urgent and powerful exploration of the rapid militarization of the police in the United States. Opening on startling on-the-scene footage in Ferguson, Missouri, the film then broadens its scope to present scenes from across the country—a conference presentation where the value of high-end weapons technologies is presented to potential police buyers, a community that has just received its very own military-grade tank, and a SWAT team arriving at a home to execute a warrant. The cumulative effect of these vignettes paints a startling picture of the direction our local law enforcement is headed.
— Do Not Resist, Deborah Rudolph
Solitary investigates an invisible part of the American justice system: the use of isolation and segregation in US prisons, commonly known as solitary confinement.
— Tribeca Film Institute

Exclusive clip of Solitary at Deadline.

Portia Allen-Kyle on Activism & Police Tactics in St. Louis

Nickie Phillips

The talk was part of the Fall 2015 Senior Citizen Lecture Series:
Urban Policing and Racial Conflict: Current Crises and Historical Context which is sponsored by the Senior Citizen Lecture Series, the Center for Crime & Popular Culture, the Institute for Peace & Justice and co-Coordinated by professors Nickie Phillips & Emily Horowitz.

Nickie Phillips, Portia Allen-Kyle, Emily Horowitz

Portia Allen-Kyle, J.D., is currently working on her dissertation in sociology at Rutgers University. She spent the past summer doing fieldwork in Ferguson, Missouri, studying the impact of executive emergency curfews on the community. Her dissertation focuses on the relationship between executive emergency curfew laws and social inequality.

Eli Silverman: Crime Numbers and the NYPD

Nickie Phillips

Nov. 3 at St. Francis College - Eli Silverman / Crime Numbers & the NYPD

Eli Silverman is a professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Dr. Silverman is author of numerous scholarly articles on policing management, crime rates, and policing performance. He is co-author, with John Eterno, of The Crime Numbers Game: Management by Manipulation and author of NYPD Battles Crime: Innovative Strategies in Policing. Dr. Silverman has served with the US Department of Justice and the National Academy of Public Administration in Washington, DC.

Cyber-Police in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Nickie Phillips

By Shima Rostami

Among various cyber-crime organizations there is an organization, though faced with many criticisms, that has done a worthy job of fighting against cyber-crime. On the 23rd of January 2011, a new branch of Iranian police was launched by Commander Ahmad Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian Police force. This new branch, called FATA, is the cyber police of the Islamic Republic of Iran which fundamentally monitors production and communication in cyber space. The establishment of this new branch created much controversy internationally which makes it remarkable for any security researcher to take a glance at FATA functions and performances.

Cyber-crime is any crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used either in the commission of a crime or be the target. Sometimes cyber-crimes are committed by criminals as a profession. However, in most cases, specifically in terrorism, cyber-crime is an instrument for such organizations to facilitate their attacks. Hence, there is a need to concentrate on expanding counter-crimes’ and law enforcements’ knowledge and techniques to chase those kinds of crimes: not only because inherently they are crimes but also in this era of internet technology, cyber-crime is a gateway for other criminals like terrorism to threaten the security of the world.

In order to create a better understanding of current perception on global peace and international terrorism a qualitative survey study was conducted in cooperation with the Religion Department of a Midwest private school. The survey was given to 80 students in World Religion, Islam and the West, and the History of Christianity courses.

Full Text - The Cyber-Police Of the Islamic Republic of Iran

 

Shima Rostami is a graduate student at Lindenwood University.

STOP Documentary: Stop and Frisk in NYC, Floyd v. City of NY

Nickie Phillips

Documentary Screening and Q&A at St. Francis College, Fall 2015

Spencer Wolff, Director & Producer of STOP, Nickie Phillips, criminologist

 

 

"STOP is a feature length documentary about Floyd v. City of New York, the class-action lawsuit that challenged the New York City Police Department’s practice of stop & frisk, and resulted in the landmark decision finding the practice unconstitutional." - STOP: A Film About Stop & Frisk in New York City

 

In My Neighborhood: First-Hand Stories of Police Interactions

Nickie Phillips

UPDATE: Marlon Peterson was a guest speaker for our "In My Neighborhood…" panel. Here is his account of what happened after: ‘Driving While Black:’ Anatomy of a Police Stop

Last month, I spoke at a panel on Urban Policing at St. Francis College in New York about the historical underpinnings of the animus of Back and Brown people toward police. I drew the linear connection between the Harlem Riots of 1943; Watts 1965; Los Angeles, 1992; Ferguson 2014; and Baltimore 2015.

I mentioned that although I work to reduce community gun violence and police violence—and often consult with elected officials about how to engage the community in various endeavors—I am still aware that my Black body is under threat from violent policing.

Two days later, my words came back to haunt me.…
— Marlon Peterson

This lecture is part of our Fall 2015 Senior Citizen Lecture Series focused on Urban Policing and Racial Conflict: Current Crises and Historical Contexts

Emily Horowitz & Nickie Phillips, Coordinators

Johnny Perez (Urban Justice Center and SFC '17) served as moderator for a discussion with panelists Damien Stapleton (Harlem-based community activist) & Marlon Peterson (2015 Soros Justice Fellow + activist against gun violence) & Pastor Terence Brunson (Clergy, Police, & Community in Unity Movement). Johnny, a St. Francis student, is a mental health advocate at The Urban Justice Center, a member of the Jails Action Coalition, the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), the New York Reentry Education Network, and the Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee.  Drawing on his 13 years of direct involvement with the criminal justice system, Johnny has testified at the NY Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights; spoken at Cornell Law, Fordham,  Amnesty International, Princeton, the United Nations, and The American Justice Summit; appeared on Al-Jazeera, in a documentary about solitary confinement and NY1;  and received the Victor Hassine Memorial Essay Award for his essay on the transformative power of education.

Techno-Policing with Bennett Capers

Nickie Phillips

This lecture is part of our Fall 2015 Senior Citizen Lecture Series focused on Urban Policing and Racial Conflict: Current Crises and Historical Contexts

Nickie Phillips & Emily Horowitz, Coordinators

Professor Bennett Capers is a prolific writer on race, gender, and criminal justice. His articles and essays have been published or are forthcoming in top law reviews, including the California Law Review, Fordham Law Review, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, Michigan Law Review, U.C. Davis Law Review, UCLA Law Review, and Washington University Law Review. Prior to teaching, he spent nearly ten years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. In 2013, Judge Scheindlin appointed him to Chair the Academic Advisory Council to assist in implementing the remedial order in the stop-and-frisk class action Floyd v. City of New York. He also serves as an appointed member of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Vice: Fixing the System - Full Episode

Nickie Phillips

“Vice” also takes time to dig into the human side of the criminal justice system, not only in how Obama sits with prisoners and speaks to them about the choices and quirks of the system that led them to this place, but in interviewing family members left behind, whose lives are left with gaping holes, thanks to a generation lost to incarceration. -- LA Times Recap

Polygraphs arrive in the UK

Terry Thomas

The UK has for many years resisted the introduction of the polygraph to its criminal justice processes. It was treated as too unreliable. Another example of American ‘exceptionalism’ alongside the electric chair and the Utah firing squads. Ok for the Americans, but not for us.

But now it’s arrived. Its introduction to the UK has been long drawn out and low key. The law permitting the use of polygraphs was passed as far back as 2007 (in the Offender Management Act) and even today not many people in the street would be able to tell you that it became available to the British police and probation officers from January 2014.

The polygraph is often described as a lie detector.  Its use is based on the notion that lying induces a ‘stress response’ in the automatic nervous system, a part of the Central Nervous System that is largely outside conscious control and which regulates the body’s internal environment.  The effect of this can be observed in changes in cardiovascular activity, breathing, and sweating.  The basis of the polygraph examination involves individuals being asked a series of questions while activity in these systems is recorded, with certain reactions said to be indicative of deception. 

President Richard Nixon, when considering polygraph tests for White House staff in 1971, famously declared:

I don’t know anything about polygraphs, and I don’t know how accurate they are, but I know they’ll scare the hell out of people.
— (quoted in Alder, 2007: 221)

and early 50 years ago the American academic Alan Westin declared:

The reliability figures cited by polygraph operators have been rejected in most scientific and legal journals...efforts to have different polygraph operators test the same subject to judge the reproducibility and independent validity of the polygraph have not been successful ... [and] a series of tests by the same operator with the same subject will show very significant changes in the results.
— (Westin, 1967: 213)

Today a study by the American National Research Council is often taken as the bench mark for the reliability of the polygraph. Its 2003 report stated that polygraph accuracy stood at about 80-90%.

British Experiences of the Polygraph

The British have been quite hesitant about the polygraph. The British Psychological Society have produced two reports in 1986 and 2004 expressing their doubts. The latter concluded:

Although psychological equipment does accurately measure a number of physiological activities, these activities do not reflect a single underlying process. Furthermore, these activities are not necessarily in concord, either within or across individuals.
— (BPS 2004: 29)

The 'stress response' which is measured, for example, may not be a response to 'deception' but could be prompted by surprise, cognitive load, loud noise, etc. The polygraph test is also said to be easily ‘beaten’ because if you bite the inside of your mouth or tongue on a question of no importance, unbeknown to the operator, he or she will begin to wonder - what’s the matter with this machine.

Having passed the enabling legislation in 2007 testing on sex offenders was piloted between April 2009 and October 2011 in the East and West Midlands’ probation regions. The study found that offenders who took the tests made twice as many disclosures to probation staff – for instance, admitting to contacting a victim or entering an exclusion zone, or thoughts that could suggest a higher risk of reoffending (Gannon et al 2014).

At the moment it will only be used on sex offenders –if the police use it they need the offender’s consent –probation can use it without their consent if it’s written into any parole conditions. The police say they will give extra attention to these who do not consent – not sure if that constitutes a free consent without duress being applied. No doubts the law will soon change to enable them to test without consent.

References

Alder K (2007) The Lie Detectors: the history of an American obsession, Simon and Shuster, New York

British Psychological Society (2004).  A Review of the Current Scientific Status and Fields of Application of Polygraphic Deception Detection.  Report (26/05/04) from the BPS Working Party (http://www.bps.org.uk).

Gannon T et al (2014) An evaluation of Mandatory polygraph testing for sexual offenders in the United Kingdom Sexual Abuse: a journal of Research and Treatment 26(2): 178-203

Westin A (1967) Privacy and Freedom, Bodley Head, London

Terry Thomas, emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at Leeds Beckett University

Terry Thomas is emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at Leeds Beckett University. His research areas include sexual offending and police information systems. His most recent book is ‘Domestic Violence and Criminal Justice’ written with Nicola Groves also from the Leeds Beckett University criminology group. He is currently working on the third edition of his book ‘Sex Crime: sex offending and society’ due out November 2015.

The Marshall Project has launched

Nickie Phillips

In an interview with Huffington Post, Neil Barsky, the founder and chairman of The Marshall Project, stated

“Nobody in their right mind, if they had to start a criminal justice system from scratch, would come up with what we have in America. Nobody.”

In an effort to address injustices in the criminal justice system and spark reform, The Marshall Project will feature news and articles on criminal justice events including "articles written by prisoners, and interviews with corrections officers, police officers and others involved in the criminal justice system."

From the mission statement:

We believe that storytelling can be a powerful agent of social change. Our mission is to raise public awareness around issues of criminal justice and the possibility for reform. But while we are nonpartisan, we are not neutral. Our hope is that by bringing transparency to the systemic problems that plague our courts and prisons, we can help stimulate a national conversation about how best to reform our system of crime and punishment.

Follow The Marshall Project on Twitter.

Voices from the March #Justice4All, Washington DC

Nickie Phillips

#Justice4All

Crimcast attended the march against police brutality on December 13, 2014.

Here are some voices from this peaceful protest.

Photographs and videos: Prof. Nickie Phillips & Emily Horowitz

Cornelia at #Justice4All

John with his two children at #Justice4All

Chris, Steven, & David at #Justice4All

Sophia, Rebecca & Elena at #Justice4All

"We had to make sure that our voices were heard. Black Lives Matter." - #Justice4All

"It's important that we do show up to let America know that we do care about our young people." #Justice4All

 

#ThisStopsToday

Nickie Phillips

Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America

Nickie Phillips

June 2, 1986, =

Wednesday, 7th of May, 2014 from 5:30pm-7:30pm

Attend the opening of the exhibition Bearing Witness: Art Resistance in Cold War Latin America.

The exhibition runs from May 8, 2014-September 12, 2014

at ANYA AND ANDREW SHIVA GALLERY JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CUNY 524 WEST 59TH STREET L2.73.14 NEW YORK, NY 10019

Gallery Hours: 1pm-5pm, M-F, or by appointment

While censorship, kidnapping, torture, and murder became common tactics for repressive governments throughout Latin America during the Cold War, many artists from the region responded by producing poignant works of art that speak out against these atrocities. This exhibition brings together three distinct bodies of work that do so through documentation, poetic subversion and revelation.

Craigslist: A Hub for Crime?

Nickie Phillips

Danielle Reynolds, Correspondent

craigslist

For those searching for employment, housing, friendship or products and services, the Craigslist community can be extremely useful. Millions of visitors view billions of ads each month, with the majority of users having pure intentions. During the summer of 2011 I attempted to use New York City Craigslist to find a long-term sublet apartment and to my surprise found many interesting, yet unsuitable ads under the category “Rooms & Shares.” Some ads promised negotiated or complimentary rent for “favors,” while others outright asked for a live-in “naked girlfriend.” After reading many questionable and unreliable ads, I decided to delve further into the Craigslist world to uncover if Craigslist was indeed a hub for dubious activities.

Unfortunately Craigslist is vulnerable to abuse by a minority of its users, manipulating the site as a fast and free network to others whom they plan to physically and/or financially exploit. Often the perpetrators construct false identities to initiate crime, by developing a sense of trust among Craigslist contacts prior to committing the criminal act. Various criminal acts, such as murder, prostitution, drug and weapon sales and rape, among various other scams, have been initiated or conducted via Craigslist.

Miranda Barbour and husband Elytte Barbour were accused of using a Craigslist ad for “companionship” to lure Troy LaFerrara and stabbing him 20 times, then strangling and killing him, discarding the body approximately 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Miranda claimed that she used Craigslist to meet “unhappy men” and charge as much as $850 for a “delightful conversation.” During an interview with CNN reporter Francis Scarcella, Barbour admitted to almost 100 killings over a 6 year period, occurring in Alaska, Texas, North Carolina and California. In Ohio, Richard Beasley was convicted for killing 3 men who responded to a Craigslist ad for work on a cattle farm.

The most notorious Craigslist murder, however, refers to Philip Markoff, known as the “Craigslist Killer,” which inspired the 2011 Lifetime movie. The movie, based on true events, tells of a pre-med student who found his victims through Craigslist ads for erotic services, then attacking and/or murdering them upon meeting with them in a motel room. Markoff was arraigned on murder charges related to the death of Julissa Brisman (2009) and was charged with two armed assaults of Trisha Leffler and Corinne Stout.

craig killers

In 2011, Californian Michael Delgado was arrested for raping a woman who he had hired from Craigslist to clean his apartment. Once within the home, Delgado sexually assaulted and raped the woman for over an hour. He was charged with false imprisonment, assault and rape with a foreign object.

In 2009, Michael John Anderson was convicted of killing Katherine Ann Olson, a nanny who replied to a Craigslist ad for a babysitter. Upon arriving to the Anderson’s home to inquire about an employment opportunity, she disappeared.

Prostitution has made good use of cyberspace, including sites such as Craigslist. Traffic to all Craigslist personal sites, including a section for romance or “missed connections,” is higher than for any online personals sites including Match.com, eHarmony, among others. “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist has become a major hub, amassing listings with offerings for casual sex, perhaps catering to the erotic underbelly of society where courtship gives way to expediency and anonymity. Created in 2000, ads posted in this section range from prim to vulgar and often providing photographs with precisely what individuals have to offer. Founder of “Casual Encounters,” Craig Newmark, stated that the section was created in response to a demand for a division that allowed for a wide range of personal meetings and relationship options.

On September 8, 2006, “Casual Encounters” forums had been compromised in several cities by individuals posting fraudulent ads in order to obtain personal information from its users, such as email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, photos, etc. This was the first time the section had been threatened by various prostitutes and spammers to seize and control the community. Then in 2007 a Minneapolis woman pleaded guilty in federal court for running an underage prostitution ring through Craigslist. Craigslist has become a favorite for prostitutes as it is relaxed, allows people to be more candid and anonymous, and has a lack of oversight. Although Craigslist policy prohibits pornographic photos, it is not vigorously enforced. “Casual Encounters” accounts for approximately 2% of all Craigslist postings, and since its creation it has quickly evolved to fulfill a variety of suggestive quests as it delivers erotic thrills for minimal effort.

Craigslist, although a hub for illegal activity, has also been used to combat that activity as law enforcement targets criminal users in sting operations, catching prostitutes using the site to sell their services. In Long Island, eight women were arrested on prostitution charges in a sting operation by the Nassau County Police Department who have used Craigslist to make over 70 arrests in 2013. As technology expands, the traditional sense of looking for street walkers, brothels and massage parlors has transitioned to scouring Craigslist ads and various pages on cyberspace. In July 2013 Nassau County Police Department arrested 43 women for walking the streets soliciting prostitution and 60 on Craigslist pages soliciting online.

danielle

Danielle Reynolds, Crimcast contributor, teaches Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Danielle earned her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2011 from John Jay College where she was awarded the Claude Hawley Medal and Graduate Scholarship. She currently lives in New York City.

Countries with Low Crime Rates: Comparing Vietnam and Japan

Nickie Phillips

By Megan Helwig, Guest Blogger

Vietnam-Japan_jpg

Vietnam and Japan, each with vastly different political regimes, maintain relatively low crime rates. Vietnam, a socialist state, appears to employ methods of fear and intimidation to maintain social control. Japan, a constitutional monarchy/parliamentary democracy utilizes a community-oriented policing system to maintain social order. Both states culturally advocate harmony and social order as their goals. However, both states also seem to take separate approaches as well as possess varying viewpoints of what maintaining societal harmony entails.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian country run by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). Vietnam is one of five remaining Communist nations of the world, amongst Laos, Cuba, North Korea and China. Vietnam is comprised of a “massive state security network.” Professor Carl Thayer, of the Australian Defense Forces Academy, estimated that “at least 6.7 million Vietnamese belong to the many security agencies.” This is roughly one out of every six people within the forty-three million working population of Vietnam that works in security. According to the BBC, “Vietnam’s Communist-controlled state security apparatus is comprised not only of the police forces and regular army, but also paramilitaries, rural militia forces and ‘neighborhood guardians.’ All of these different security forces are under the control of either the Ministry of National Defense or the Ministry of Public Security.

Japan’s police system has actually instituted measures to guarantee police neutrality for their police forces. These measures are carried out through the National Police Agency (NPA). According to INTERPOL, “The NPA is headed by a Commissioner General who, with the approval of the Prime Minister, is appointed by the National Public Safety Commission (NPSC), a state body which holds the rank of Ministry of State, guarantees the neutrality of the police, and administers the NPA.” The NPA oversees the Prefectural Police which is the law enforcement provider within Japan. The NPA is an apolitical body void of direct governmental executive control. The press is also able to freely monitor and express any criticisms of the system without fear of punishment.

It’s quite evident that Vietnam’s low crime rate is mostly due to the extreme amount of social control and censorship imposed by the government. These factors bring to the surface many human rights issues for a plethora of reasons. Political opposition is prohibited, and the administration of justice can be arbitrary and harsh. The idea that the revolution must be protected is what justifies the arrest of individuals choosing to speak out against its government or the state’s beliefs and practices. The state utilizes various modes of surveillance in order to keep an eye out for any incident of disobedience which enables quick, arguably unjust, enforcement of the law. From an objective perspective, this system could be arguably quite effective. However, the future stability of this social control method is somewhat questionable. A government that uses fear and intimidation to maintain social order will continually be potentially on the brink of mass public protest and revolt. In contrast, Japan’s system resembles a completely different form of social control and policing with a more community-oriented approach. According to Pakes, one of the most successful displays of community policing is in Japan. Japan’s community police are called koban. The Japanese policing structure enables the police forces to develop a more personal relationship with the community and ultimately helps erase the social gap typically found between police and civilians. The koban structure also combines policing with general assistance. Some of these general assistance interactions include: surveying, advising on addresses, lending out umbrellas, lost and found services, community activities, production and distribution of newsletters, self-defense classes, and sports. Overall, Japan’s form of community policing aligns with the culture’s emphasis on the importance of harmony.

(Photo: www.wordpress.tokyotimes.org)

Statistically, both Vietnam and Japan are effective at keeping their crime rates relatively low in comparison to the global crime statistics. Perhaps the question of analysis shouldn’t be which state’s police force has the most effectiveness in relation to their low-crime rates. Instead, maybe the focus should be on the means under which these low crime rates are established. Vietnam uses a method of tight governmental influence and social control and censorship to ensure obedience. Japan, in contrast, uses a more community-oriented approach to develop trust and solid relationships with its citizens while also providing for the basic needs of the community. Many would argue that for a state to be successful, it needs to provide the basic needs and services required by its people. This can also be said for communities as well as states. The koban policing system example within Japan seems to go above and beyond in relation to providing communities with services that address the citizen’s everyday needs. Another aspect to ponder is how secure each of the systems are in the long run? It seems quite evident that Japan possesses a significantly more stable system of policing and citizen respect than Vietnam system possesses.  Japan historically had a similar politically-heavy state-controlled system and successfully transitioned to what they are now. One size doesn’t typically fit all. However, Japan’s modern system could, at least in theory, maybe one day be a solution to Vietnam’s shaky and somewhat paranoid system.

Megan Helwig graduated from Lock Haven University with a B.A. in Political Science/Pre-Law. Currently, she is in the International Crime and Justice Masters program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In addition to knowing English and some Spanish, she is currently pursuing an advanced comprehension of Arabic (Classical and Egyptian Colloquial). Megan is ultimately pursuing a career in counter-terrorism. 

Investigating Internet Crimes: An Interview with Cybercrime Expert Art Bowker

Nickie Phillips

geralt @ pixabay

Crimcast welcomes cybercrime specialist Art Bowker to discuss his new book, co-authored with Todd G. Shipley, titled Investigating Internet Crimes: An Introduction to Solving Crimes in Cyberspace. Bowker has nearly 30 years experience in law enforcement and corrections and has written extensively on cybercrime, law enforcement, and corrections. His last book, The Cybercrime Handbook for Community Corrections, (2012) was geared toward managing offenders, including offenders’ Internet use and participation in social media. The book was the first of its kind that focused on cybercrime, pretrial, probation, parole and community corrections.

In 2013,  Bowker was recognized by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association (FPPOA), receiving the APPA's Sam Houston State University Award and the FPPOA's Richard F. Doyle Award,  National Line Officer of the Year and the Thomas E. Gahl, Line Officer of the Year Award (Great Lakes Region Award) the latter of which is named in honor of the only U.S. Probation Officer killed in the line of duty. These awards all centered on his contributions and efforts in managing cybercrime risk and promoting awareness and knowledge of cybercrime in the field of community corrections. Bowker continues to also write the top rated corrections blog, The Three C's (Computers, Crime and Corrections).

You have a background in law enforcement and corrections. How did you become interested in the study of cybercrime?

9780124078178

First, let me thank you for providing me this opportunity to talk about cybercrime and our new book. My interest in cybercrime dates back to the late 1980’s.  I came to the realization that such crimes can have a greater negative societal impact (loss or harm) than many traditional offenses.  At that time cybercrime was really the purview of the technically sophisticated or those with access to the victim’s computer system.  However, that all changed with the development of “user friendly” technologies. Today, anyone can use the computer to commit crime.  Computers and more specifically, the Internet have really changed criminal behavior and how we deal with it.  Kids today, with a computer, can commit crimes that previously required one either being an adult and/or access to very expensive equipment.  We also have “traditional” offenders adapting computers and the Internet to commit both old and new crimes. The Internet also means that the criminal and their victims can be located anywhere and they don’t even have to have met in the “real” world. The ability to be anyone online and seemingly obtaining complete anonymity also makes these crimes even more challenging for investigators.   The increasing use of technology by sex offenders is also very troubling.

Additionally, these criminal behaviors are not static but continue to evolve as the technology changes.  Take social networking sites for instance. With their development we have really seen an increase in such crimes as Internet harassment offenses (cyberbullying and cyberstalking) and their negative effect on victims. The development of online gaming has also seen offenders going into virtual worlds to commit crimes.  The question is, are we seeing truly new crime or are old ones just evolving? How do we  (society and the criminal justice system) address these changes?  It is really fascinating and at times scary. 

There are numerous cybercrime and/or computer forensic books and texts out there.  How is thisbook different?

Let me start by saying that this book developed out of my association with my co-author Todd Shipley.  Todd has been at the forefront of Internet investigations and is an International expert in locating, collecting, preserving and documenting online evidence.  He also holds the U.S. patent, US 8417776 B2, for Online Evidence Collection. We initially meet when we were both International officers of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA).

During a weekend telephone conversation we both discussed and recognized a need for a resource specific to Internet investigations. Todd happened to have started a draft outline, which we built into our text.  From the start we wanted to provide to the investigative community a reference book that would help guide them in dealing with the growing issues of Internet related crime.  We heard the frustration with the lack of published material specific to Internet investigations, as opposed to the numerous computer forensic texts. This book was  intended to fill the void and provide  a focused approach to investigating, documenting and locating Internet criminals. We believe we hit the mark based upon the positive feedback from numerous law enforcement professionals, who believe our text should be required for all new investigators as well as their supervisors and managers.  We were recently pleased to hear from one law enforcement professional who read our book and reported that he had recently used the book’s material to successful work several criminal cases.  This is exactly what Todd and I wanted for our book!

The target audience of this book is Internet investigators. Do most police departments have investigators focused specifically on Internet crimes, or are these tools and skills something that all investigators should become familiar with?

Before I answer that, I think we have to consider the term  “Internet crimes” .  Most folks hear the term Internet crime, cybercrime, or computer crime, and think of computer intrusions, hacking, etc. However, criminal acts on the Internet are as varied as there are crimes to commit. Texts have been devoted to the investigation and prevention of computer intrusions and hacking. Our book's primary focus is to provide law enforcement with the basic skills to understand how to investigate traditional crimes committed on the Internet.

Many police departments have computer crime units, which focus on hacking,  intrusions, etc. and they may even include  a computer forensic examiner or two.  However, even in these department they can quickly become overwhelmed if every crime involving the Internet was handled exclusively by their unit.  Most small departments have little ability to respond to Internet based crime.

Many times these cases get sent to federal agencies for their attention, which may or may not follow up based upon the loss or harm involved.  The point is all crimes committed or facilitated through the Internet are too numerous to be solely addressed by specialized units and/or the federal agencies.

There is also an erroneously held belief by some in law enforcement that Internet crimes are not their problem, noting  “The Internet is not my Jurisdiction.”  This belief fails to recognize that victims and/or offenders may in fact be in their  jurisdiction. No police department should be ignoring Internet crimes effecting their community or criminals operating in their area, abet online.

Todd has a saying, which I fully support, “Make the Internet your regular beat.” We believe that all officers, from the patrolmen up to the chief, have to understand Internet crime and its investigative process.  We also believe that agencies must have an online presence to not only investigate these cases but show that they patrol and prevent them when possible.  In short, all law enforcement in the 21st Century needs to be able to address crimes with an Internet component.

I would also add that we believe civil investigators need to have the skills and knowledge our book covers as civil matters are increasing having an Internet component as well.

The book does a great job of breaking down complex concepts and technical jargon into a readable narrative. What advice would you give to investigators (or students) that are hesitant to invest time into learning about cybercrime because it seems “too technical?”

First, I think you have to dispense with the idea that anyone involved in law enforcement in the 21st Century, can just let crime involving computers and/or the Internet be left to someone else.  More and more evidence involves data found on computers or the Internet.  Even crimes that had nothing to do with the Internet leave online traces to witnesses and even evidence. Take the example of the Boston Marathon Bombings.   The bombing had nothing to do with the Internet. However, witnesses, photographs, etc. were obtained from Twitter traffic from individuals on the scene after the attack. These leads were eventually capitalized to correctly identify the suspects. Another example is the sex crime case that occurred in Steubenville Ohio. The crime itself had nothing to do with the Internet. However,  the social media traffic by witnesses and suspects no doubt  played a big rule in the investigative process of the crime. So you see it really is not a choice of whether they should invest time in developing these skill and knowledge. It will be a necessity if it isn’t already.

Okay, now for my advice for how one goes about gaining cybercrime knowledge.  It is really the same answer to the question of how one goes about eating an elephant.  You must do it one bite at a time and in more than one siting. The same applies to learning about cybercrime.  You take small steps; digest the information and then move on to the next topic.  I think our book is the first step in that process.  To be a modern investigator one doesn’t have to become a computer forensic examiner.  However, you do have to know where online evidence can be found, document it, collect it and preserve it.  Our book lays out that foundation as it pertains to Internet evidence.

What would you say is the single biggest challenge that investigators face when investigating cybercrimes?

Probably the biggest challenge is when criminals really understand how to be anonymous online and rigorously use the processes and techniques to conceal their identity. This is a challenge but as we have seen in the recent arrests involving Silk Road and other sites on Tor, even the so called “smartest” criminals make mistakes. Investigators have to be prepared to capitalize on those mistakes whenever and where ever they occur.

In the book, you devote sections to topics such as tracing IP addresses and gaining anonymity online. The information you provide is technically “public” knowledge but it is certainly not common knowledge. While writing the book, did you ever feel the danger of giving away too much information? That is, reporting information that may be exploited by cyber-criminals?

This is a very good question. You are right this information is readily available online. It really is no secret.  More and more criminals are aware of these techniques. If not, they do online research to find out how to do something.  The problem is that there are probably more bad guys than good guys that are aware of these techniques.  We hope our book tips the scales in favor of the giving the good guys the informational edge. However, there were a few times where we did leave out details concerning a sensitive high tech law enforcement technique that was not widely known.

You mention that police may use the Internet in a reactive (responding to crimes after they have occurred) as well as a proactive (efforts to prevent crime) manner. What are the most pressing legal/ethical issues with regard to proactive Internet investigations?

Agencies and their investigators have to do their job in a manner that enforces the law but does not violate their citizenry’s rights.   Some of the issues concern entrapment, privacy, and in the United States the Bill of Rights, such as freedom of speech, association.

To help make sure agencies are on right side of the legal and ethical issues, before doing proactive Internet investigations the following should occur: 1) have a policy governing the investigation of Internet crimes; 2) have a defined plan of the investigation before going online; 3) use a computer that if compromised will not allow for further compromise of the agency or company network; 4) obtain training for the investigation of Internet related crimes; and last 5) understand the changing legal landscape regarding the use of information you find on the Internet.

This is not just for the law enforcement agencies either. Corporate and private investigators also need to follow these principles.

Can you tell us what you are currently working on? Can we expect another cybercrime book from you in the near future?

Well, now I am keeping pretty business discussing the book and trying to get it the hands of law enforcement and investigative communities. Even so, I have some ideas, such as a book to help the general public minimize their cyberrisk and stay safe online. We will see.

And, finally, what the hell are bitcoins??

Ha Ha, good question. Bitcoin is a digital currency created in 2009 by a pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. They are created by individuals using computers which create this cyptocurrency by solving mathematical equations. These equations verify and record all bitcoin transactions payments. In exchange for using their computer resources to run these equations individuals received transaction fees in the form of bitcoins. This process is called "mining." No one regulates the creation of bitcoins. It is all through the solving of these equations, which all record all bitocin transactions.  A set amount of bitcoins is to be created,  21 million bitcoins I believe, which is estimated to be reached by 2140.  Most bitcoins are obtained not by mining but by exchanging regular currency for bitcoins. They can also be converted back to regular currency for a fee.  Current exchange rate on February 4, 2014, was  1 Bitcoin = $803.99. The exchange rate is still rather volatile.

Bitcoins allow individuals to buy and sell goods without a third party entity, such as a bank or credit card processing company. Bitcoin owners are identified not by their name but ownership of a cryptographic keys. These keys make up the bitcoin wallet. This gives individuals a sense of anonymity, which criminals want, when dealing with illegal transactions.

Bitcoins have been used to purchase legal as well was as illegal goods. The Silk Road arrests noted earlier involved individuals allegedly selling drugs for bitcoins. Individuals also like bitcoins because there is no government controlling its value, such as by determining how many are in circulation at anyone time.

Besides being used for illegal transactions, bitcoins also can be a target for theft or fraud. Whether Bitcoins become fully accepted by the market place is still up in the air. The interesting thing again is technology has created a new currency, which can be used for good or criminal purposes.

Click here for our podcast featuring Art discussing his earlier book The Cybercrime Handbook for Community Corrections.

"It's Probably Nothing, But...": How Governments Make Us Responsible For Our Own Security

Nickie Phillips

NTAS

Part 4 of 5 in a series on Risk-Logic and the War on Terror

Aditi Gupta, Guest Blogger

Following on from last week’s post, this week I’ll be discussing Selchow’s third dynamic that is engendered by the Dispositif of Precautionary Risk (DPR), a pre-emptory risk –based mode of governance: the internalization of security issues and the process of ‘responsibilization’. As touched upon last week, the creation of an archetypal Muslim terrorist figure in the U.K. has essentially depoliticized the issue of the governance of terrorism for the majority of the population, while the blame for the root of terrorism has been placed firmly on Islamic extremism and the British Muslim community by association. Thus, it’s evident that the dynamics of depoliticization and responsibilization are intimately linked. Through the governmentality approach, the DPR mode of governance shows that its assemblages of surveillance and risk discourse both work to construct sectors of society that are ‘dreamt up, marginalized and put under suspicion’; and ‘normalize’ the rest of the population, thereby ‘inviting citizens to become security guards, spies and informants’ on the ‘risky’ Muslim community (Mythen and Walklate 2006:390-392). This means that the Muslim community is not only blamed for the problem of terrorism, but are ultimately pressured to provide the solution to the problem by looking inwardly at themselves; effectively, the Muslim community has to internalize the problem of national security in this way, taking it on their own shoulders while simultaneously easing the responsibility of the government to engage fully with the problem.

Those who do not fall under the ‘suspect community’ are responsibilitized in a way that not only allows the continued allocation of blame on the ‘suspect community’, but also places the onus on them to report on anything ‘abnormal’. This dynamic is most clearly seen in government campaigns such as the recent one by the Metropolitan Police emphasizing that it is the Londoners’ responsibility ‘to be vigilant’ for anything ‘out of place in normal day to day lives’.

met police sign

Mythen et. al. (2012:394) thus articulate the core of this politics of normalcy: ‘this requirement to present an outwardly safe identity…reveals the coercive social pressures that a pervasive climate of suspicion has engendered’. Indeed, this has led to ‘checking behaviors’ such as selective use of dialect, clothing and curbing of outward behavior in the public sphere (p. 391). As the 7/7 bombers were ‘home-grown’ from the Muslim community in Yorkshire, the onus of protecting society has fallen hardest on the Muslim communities in the U.K. The consequences of this element of responsibilization via the allocation of blame has led to the targeted surveillance of Muslim communities through stop and search policies, questioning at ports under Schedule 7 of the Terrorist Act, pre-emptory raids, and the pressure to spy on their own communities through the creation of Muslim Community Units through the PREVENT strategy. Notably, even though these pre-emptory actions are based entirely on suspicion of intent, the person who is targeted has barely any rights in place to protect them from the effects of human error in judging their ‘riskiness’. A corollary to this is the 600% increase in Islamophobia since 2001 and its associated increase in violence on Muslim people and mosques (Spalek, 2008:420).

How this dynamic effects resistance: power dynamics

The dynamic of responsibilization can be seen as directly related to the discourses of power surrounding the ‘battle for truth’ regarding justice. Amnesty International United Kingdom (AIUK) iterates that this dynamic makes HRO work safeguarding human rights standards all the more significant: ‘the stuff that is most unpopular is some of the most important…because it’s the issues that others won’t pick up on…that don’t have public support’. As Liberty (2007:16) articulate, it is unlikely that the majority of Britons ‘upon waking up…felt more subject to surveillance than they did yesterday’; however, targeted surveillance over the Muslim community means that they truly feel the interlinked dynamics in Burchell’s (1991) sense of having to change the way they see themselves as governed subjects, due to the way they are governed. CagePrisoners explains, ‘the way the government speaks, the way the media speaks and the way the average person on the street speaks all perpetuate this cycle of fear’, thus responsibilitizing society wholesale through the DPR’s rationalities of zero-risk and shifting of the burden of proof.

However, from CagePrisoners’ personalized responses in interview, we can see that governance through the DPR and the social dynamics it engenders has a much sharper effect on the ‘suspect community’ of Muslims. CagePrisoners explains that this suspicion has a chilling effect on the politics of the community as a whole: ‘if we stick our heads above the parapet, they’re going to come after us next’. It is thus evident that CagePrisoners feels the four interrelated dynamics engendered by DPR in a way that cuts right to the social core of what the application of risk does to society. As CagePrisoners says, ‘wherever you see a threat coming from a community which goes against the norm of understanding of criminal behavior, you will see a disproportionate response to those threats’. CagePrisoners’ responses emphasize that the key role of the organization is to empower the Muslim community to break away from inactivity and submission to the prevailing rationalities of zero-risk and the shift of the burden of proof.

Due to its unique vantage-point as a Muslim organization, CagePrisoners engages in this ‘battle for truth’ on a level that has a much more personal tone than any of the other human rights organizations (HROs) interviewed. For example, in a CagePrisoners article (Balaratnam, 2012) regarding United Kingdom BorderAgency  (UKBA) policy of detaining people at the border for questioning under Schedule 7, the article speaks directly to a Muslim audience and is presented as a Muslim voice. Although not articulated in the terminology of risk, the article essentially asks Muslims to break through the dynamic of responsibilization whereby the allocation of blame on the Muslim community is legitimized through the reflexive internalization of blame. The article asserts it point by provocatively asserting that if the reader is stopped at the border, they have to concede ‘it’s my fault I got stopped today – my fault for being brown’. The form of resistance encouraged by CagePrisoners, therefore, is one that is very different to collective action. It is essentially micro-resistance whereby the individual only resists what affects them on an individual, direct level. Thus, if the affected community itself does not even question the rationalities that legitimize racially-prejudiced forms of profiling and surveillance, CagePrisoners warns that no one will, therefore undermining any lobbying conducted by HROs at the state-level.

This insight is even more powerful when one considers the recent uproar over the detention of David Miranda under Schedule 7 – only when one of the majority non-Muslim population was affected did the media question it, let alone campaign against it. Ultimately, it was only picked up by the media because Schedule 7 affected a Guardian journalist’s partner (Greenwald, 2013). This relation epitomizes the importance of the ‘micro’ level of resistance in countering what is essentially a cultural shift to living through risk, when faced with the multitude of arguments that focus on the global erosion of rights and the need for macro-analyses of power.

Whilst Liberty, AIUK and Reprieve revealed their primary state-level focus by identifying the depoliticization dynamics of secrecy and the narrative of fear as the greatest obstacles to checking government overreach, CagePrisoners stated ‘misunderstanding and blind ignorance’. For them, the social impact of society not understanding the Muslim community, ‘what they’re about and their belief system’ is a major factor in the way government policy is formed. His responses suggest that the government construction of a ‘paradigm of who we are and the way that we engage’ has completely neglected the crucial importance of micro power dynamics. In a reflection of the multitudinal networks of Foucauldian power relations, Asim Qureshi, Executive Director of Cageprisoners, outlines that ‘our identity is not just an identity; it’s a multitude of identities that superimpose themselves one on top of the other’. It may seem logical and practical for the UK government to ask the Muslim community to report on ‘bad’ Muslims through policies such as PREVENT; however, the top-down engagement with only the archetypal ‘good’ Muslim that has been created in the political imagination effectively renders the policy counter-productive and end up pushing away the majority of Muslims who feel they do not fit that rigid definition. CagePrisoners gave the example of Muslims being targeted by the government for simply disagreeing with government policies such as going to war with Iraq. At a recent lecture, CagePrisoners’ founder, Moazzam Begg, spoke of a teenage girl arrested for writing poetry that was seen as ‘extremist’. In their view, the government-led counter-terror policy is ‘dictated by people who are not willing to engage in a way that is useful’, thus simultaneously legitimizing more and more extreme measures against ordinary people in order to secure the state, while creating resentment and isolation among communities who would be willing to engage on their own terms.

Moazzam-Begg-640x360

This insight cuts to the social core of the combined dynamics of risk engendered by the DPR; ultimately, as asserted by CagePrisoners, this ‘criminalization of people based on an assumption of what you think they are’ takes away Muslim agency. It says, ‘you’re not capable of making up your own mind…you’re not capable of engaging with society…and so we’re going to put you all in the same tub and treat you all in the same way’. This is why the policy shift from targeting violent actions to ‘extremist’ thoughts dictated by UK counter-terror policy worries CagePrisoners so much; it is inherently disenfranchising and disempowering.

Indeed, this micro-level understanding of power dynamics in the context of risk-governance and the need to resist them is also demonstrated by Reprieve in a way that connects the global, macro-level power dynamics inherent in the War on Terror; apart from the macro-issues of the rendition program and Guantánamo, they acknowledge that it is ‘Life After Guantánamo’ (LAG) that poses a big social problem (Reprieve, 2009). Their LAG program thus attempts to overcome the social and psychological difficulties experienced by ex-detainees that result from absorbing all four dynamics of risk via pre-emptory policies and the way that society treats them when they are finally released.

The U.K. government’s perpetuation of what CagePrisoners calls a discourse of ‘misunderstanding’ ultimately produces a Muslim identity that is inherently perceived as ‘risky’. Not only does this dynamic force the Muslim community as a whole to feel responsible for the devastation created by terrorist attacks they had no connection with, the government’s attempts to use this community as an intelligence source ends up actually isolating them further. The rest of society, meanwhile, sinks further into a cycle of constant vigilance and suspicion: is the neighbor with the blinds constantly down up to no good? The perpetuation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘suspicious’ and ‘normal’ labels within UK security practice mean that it is likely that majority society will accept – even crave – extension of security measures and further curtailments on the rights of socially constructed ‘bad people’. The state of constant readiness for the next attack that is physically taken on by the U.K. population thus leads to the dynamic I will be focusing on next week: the expansion of ‘securitization’.

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta graduated with an MSc in Global Politics (Civil Society) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Autumn 2013.  She has previously worked at Soul Rebel Films and Reprieve and has co-authored reports based on depth interviews conducted for the Indian development NGO, CHIRAG. Aditi has volunteered for refugee and homeless organizations in the UK and is developing a career in the human rights field. This is the fourth installment in her five-part series on Crimcast which began on January 3, 2014.