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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 Category: Center for Crime & Popular Culture

This Will All be Yours Review

Nickie Phillips

by Demetra Pappas

Watching This Will All Be Yours, the audience is taken on a journey from The Cherry Orchard to The Exonerated, and with music regarding the decline of the family farm in the last century. This chamber piece works tremendously well under the direction of Ludovica Villar-Hauser and the musical direction of Amy Duran. The “what” that will “all be yours” is a family farm, which becomes increasingly difficult to financially hold onto as three children grow up, and leave home.

In many ways, Laura Pederson’s 80-minute story is as much about an American family in the 1970s and 1980s as much as it is about the economic decline of the small farm owned and operated by, ironically, the Price family. The Prices are played by Jenny Rose Baker (who has a spectacular voice, as well), Matt Farcher, Amy Griffin, Josh Powell and Daniel Rowan; a would be buyer is represented by Jackson Webb (Trevor St. John-Gilbert, in brief but memorable scenes in which the audience learns that his family also had a farm). I was interested to learn from the Author’s Note in the Festabill that Pederson herself grew up in a largely rural part of Western New York. This is the story of how farming became mechanized, as the younger Price family members sequentially leave for urban environments ranging from early Silicon Valley to the youngest son’s final departure for an aspiring acting career on Broadway (in what I take to be authorial tongue in cheek).

During a recent “talk back panel,” Villar-Hauser wittily commented that she took on the chance to work on a play with music, and the play grew into a musical with a story to tell. In this regard, the ensemble production reminded me of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grills, which garnered Audra McDonald a record-breaking sixth Tony, for her role as Billie Holiday – as Best Actress in a Play (with music, so to speak).

I hope that this work by former New York Times columnist Laura Pederson (book) and Charles Bloom (music and lyrics) continues to grow from the seed planted (pun intended) at the Midtown International Theater Festival. It is a recent historical prelude to a contemporary one time in which people are looking for farm to table possibilities, participating in CSA community supported agriculture and organic cooperatives.

Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD writes about criminology, sociology and legal studies, among other topics. Her recent book, The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate (Greenwood Press, 2012), a 100-year study of US and UK doctors prosecuted for medical euthanasia/assisted suicide and role of media) was nominated for the 2014 International Qualitative Inquiry Book Prize, as well as nominated and short listed, 2013 British Society of Criminology Book Prize.

White Scripts and Black Supermen Doc

Nickie Phillips

Through interviews with prominent artists, scholars and cultural critics along with images from the comic books themselves, this film examines the degree to which early Black superheroes generally adhered to common stereotypes about Black men. From the humorous, to the offensive, early Black superheroes are critically considered.
— WHITE SCRIPTS AND BLACK SUPERMEN: BLACK MASCULINITIES IN AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS

Crime in Film/Media/Popular Culture Tweet Chat

Nickie Phillips

Join Intellect academic publishers on Thursday 7th August at 4.30pm BST/11:30am EST for a Tweet chat on the topic of Crime in Film/Media/Popular Culture.

You can chat @IntellectBooks and hashtag #IntellectChat

Some academics currently scheduled for the tweet chat are:

Louis Bayman completed his doctoral thesis on post-war Italian melodrama at King’s College, London, and is currently researching theoretical approaches to the social and aesthetic characteristics of popular cinema.

A contributor to Film International since 2005, Carl Freedman is the James F. Cassidy Professor of English at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge). He is the author of many books and articles, including, most recently, The Age of Nixon: A Study in Cultural Power (Zero Books, 2012).

Chris Richardson is a doctoral student in Media Studies at The University of Western Ontario. He received a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University in 2007 and a Master of Arts in Popular Culture from Brock University in 2008. His work primarily focuses on intersections of popular culture, journalism and the construction of space/place. He has written on Bloc Party, Bret Easton Ellis and Kanye West, and is currently co-editing a collection on habitus and representations of ‘the hood’ with Hans A. Skott-Myhre of Brock University.

Stonewall Uprising: "It was the Rosa Parks moment"

Nickie Phillips

Stonewall Uprising:

"It was the Rosa Parks moment," says one man. June 28, 1969: NYC police raid a Greenwich Village Mafia-run gay bar, The Stonewall Inn. For the first time, patrons refuse to be led into paddy wagons, setting off a 3-day riot that launches the Gay Rights Movement.

Told by Stonewall patrons, reporters and the cop who led the raid, Stonewall Uprising recalls the bad old days when psychoanalysts equated homosexuality with mental illness and advised aversion therapy, and even lobotomies; public service announcements warned youngsters against predatory homosexuals; and police entrapment was rampant. At the height of this oppression, the cops raid Stonewall, triggering nights of pandemonium with tear gas, billy clubs and a small army of tactical police. The rest is history. (Karen Cooper, Director, Film Forum)

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Go here for Nonfics 10 best documentaries about LGBT history.

And, don't miss How To Survive A Plague

Live Stream - The Internet and Free Speech: A Preview of The Internet’s Own Boy Event

Nickie Phillips

The Paley Center will host The Internet and Free Speech: A Preview of the Internet's Own Boy.   The Live Stream will be held at 8:20 pm ET/5:20 pm PT.

For information and tickets to the live event in NYC, go here.

The Internet and Free Speech: A Preview of The Internet’s Own Boy

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 6:30 pm New York

...Variety has stated that the film “may be the most emotionally devastating movie ever made about hacking and the freedom of information....

The event will include:

Brian Knappenberger, Director Christopher Soghoian, Principal Technologist, Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, ACLU Jane Hamsher, Publisher, FireDogLake.com Moderator: Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director, Program on Law & Technology, Columbia Law School

Go here for more information.

Lineage Project: Yoga and Meditation for At-Risk Youth

Nickie Phillips

The Lineage Project, in partnership with Laughing Lotus Yoga Center,  is hosting a raffle to increase their yoga and meditation classes for at-risk, court-involved and incarcerated youth.

Go here for more information.

The Lineage Project:

Through yoga, meditation, discussion and other mindfulness techniques, we help young people to value themselves and feel that they can make a lasting and important contribution to their communities.

We work in juvenile detention centers, alternative-to-incarceration programs and public schools for struggling students.

Tickets are only $10 each or 12 for $100. They can be purchased online or at the Front Desk at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center.

Please note: YogaTeesNYC is donating 10% of all sales to Lineage Project until the end of the raffle on June 22.

 

 

Kings Park Documentary Screening, NYC

Nickie Phillips

The NYC Mental Health Film Festival is screening Kings Park - May 18 2014

On June 21, 1967, at the age of 17, Lucy Winer was committed to the female violent ward of Kings Park State Hospital following a series of failed suicide attempts. Over 30 years later, now a veteran documentary filmmaker, Lucy returns to Kings Park for the first time since her discharge. Her journey back sparks a decade-long effort to face her past and learn the story of the now abandoned institution that once held her captive. Her meetings with other former patients, their families, and the hospital staff reveal the painful legacy of our state hospital system and the crisis left by its demise.

Sunday, May 18th, 2:00 pm
Q&A with filmmakers & cast
St. Francis College
Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY
http://www.communityaccess.org/filmfestival
Telephone: (212) 780-1400 x7726 
Email: crabinowitz@communityaccess.org

For more information, go to the 10th Annual NYC Mental Health Film Festival.

Comics Unmasked, Mannequins Masked

Nickie Phillips

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By Staci Strobl. Crimcast Co-Founder Review of the British Library's exhibit "Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK," May 2 - August 19, 2014

Comics often get tagged as being more ideologically subversive than they actually are-- at least this is the case with mainstream American comic books. But “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK” is a must-see for anyone who appreciates the subversive in popular graphic art forms, and the subversive is probably more at the forefront of the British experience with this art form than the American. In fact, British independent and underground comics are ripe with depictions of social deviance which go on to influence mainstream works. Any criminologist with their eye on popular culture will find it fascinating to see so many works from a wide variety of writers, artists, publishers, in one exhibition.

Putting aside the superhero section of the exhibition, which appropriately nods its head to the quintessentially American genre while celebrating such home-grown successes as Judge Dredd— but also takes the exhibition too far afield from its primary purpose— the exhibition’s thematic arrangement of material spanning two centuries invokes interesting connections in the world of graphics across the ages. I was particularly taken by the juxtaposition of pages from Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell (1999) and the Illustrated Police News (13 October, 1888) “coverage” of the Ripper murders under the exhibition’s “violence and gore” thematic grouping. We see how the use of black-and-white ink, shadows, small spaces, and flailing arms in the more contemporary work was a brilliantly stylized representation of the Victorian illustrations and also a testament to the enduring fascination with serial killing. People in the West just can’t get enough of these tales of murderous mayhem and transgression, and comics are a perfect medium to deliver such gruesome content.

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Occasionally a juxtaposition left me scratching my head, such as the inclusion of London Illustrated News’ 1883 Christmas supplement featuring ladies looking for suitors in romantic dress, dancing, telling ghost stories, with descriptive, but not remotely subversive, captions. Here, the exhibition has us considering the theme of “social ladder” (perhaps a polite British way of saying “class”) and certainly the supplement is depicting a very uncritical 19th century notion of ladies of high class. This is placed next to “Lord Snooty and His Pals” (1960, Dudley D. Watkins), a comic strip featuring a young Lord Snooty who prefers to ditch his class trappings and hang out with the poor kids. The connection between the two, other than depicting class in Britain, appears unconnected across time and cultural niche. The culture of boys’ education in the 20th century and ladies’ follies in the 19th are distinct and each world has its own version of illustrated hegemony and counter-hegemony. All I learned from putting them near each other is that it is fun to make fun of class, especially in the U.K., but I didn’t learn much about how class operates in these texts across time, nor did the artistic styles seem to inform each other. And, further, who is making fun of whom? Do the texts need to have an obvious critique to be subversive, or am I the subversive, laughing at the class arrogance of marriage-seeking in days gone by? All of this is followed by the overt Class War Comix (Clifford Harper, 1974) in which a long-haired hippie tells us in black and white, “I used to be in politics—but it began to hang me up… You can’t lay a trip on people,” rounding out a graphic tale of a class-free utopia. I was more confused than ever.

Regardless, there are gems not to miss and of course, the V for Vendettafan does not go away unsatisfied. The iconic British tale of renewed anarchy on Guy Fawkes’ Day is the centerpiece. Fans will delight in original scripts for the graphic novel (with edits!) on display. “Good evening London...This is the voice of fate” artwork still packs an emotional punch. And, mannequins in V masks literally people the exhibit in life-size bunches which seem to grow bigger and bigger as the display weaves its path. The exhibition may be conveying that as comics marched forward so did the enthusiasm for them and their counter-cultural messages. At the same time, I found myself irritated by the mannequins, the first one wearing the exhibition’s souvenir T-shirt which struck me as a tad too commercial for an exhibition on art and anarchy. And, the mannequins were mostly men, wearing a kind of urban uniform of T-shirt, jacket, jeans, sneakers, and of course, mask. They looked rather ominously conformist and seem to dampen the quirky creativity of the work on display.

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With the marching mannequins theme, I didn’t need the additional staging of random objects of apocalyptic modernity (gas masks, phones, grainy photos, shattered glass, and redacted documents, oh my!). It will take all of us to prevent the impending crisis was the message I was getting, and yet the best works were idiosyncratic and goofy graphic experiences from rather unique perspectives from within a cultural milieu, playing on mainstream culture, not wearing the same jeans and T-shirt. I marveled at a William S. Burroughs and Malcolm McNeill's comic strip, “The Unspeakable Mr. Hart” (1970, Cyclops), that I had never seen or heard of before, and in Burroughs style was a drug-induced non-linear comment on police brutality, imperial Britain, and colonial desperation. I got the message even as I could also make no sense of it. I also learned, and saw in vivid comparison, that Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum (DC, 1989) took a nod from the mystical artistic meanderings of Aleister Crowley and his Thoth tarot deck. Neil Gaiman’s introductory comments to a 1989 Sandman script seemed to be as self-congratulating and self-important as I would have expected— and yet what a treat to read it myself, I must admit.

Overall, this exhibition is a must-see for anyone from the popular culture and criminology crowd in range of London between now and its close on August 19, 2014. Though the overall exhibit may not tell a cohesive story, the work on display is truly fascinating in its own right and does give the viewer the sense of Britain’s rich and critically acclaimed comics history.

Pull of Gravity Screening, NYC

Nickie Phillips

Pull of Gravity-Documentary Trailer from Jon Kaufman on Vimeo.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of New York, the U.S. Department of Probation – Eastern District of New York, The Center for Court Innovation and St. Francis College are pleased to bring a screening of the documentary film PULL OF GRAVITY to Brooklyn, NY on May 5th. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director and others involved in reintegration.

Monday May 5. 2014 St. Francis College 180 Remsen Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Go here to RSVP and for more information.

Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons

Nickie Phillips

Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD, Crimcast Correspondent http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-hnLJcWF3o

As luck would have it, I saw Terrence McNally’s new play, Mothers and Sons, the same week that I saw Dallas Buyers’ Club. The 2013 Dallas Buyers earned Matthew McConaughey a Best Actor Oscar as heterosexual (and homophobic) “guy’s guy” Ron Woodroof, an electrician and rodeo cowboy who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas and created a “virus club” for HIV/AIDS patients after his “30 days to live” diagnosis. In real life, Woodroof viewed this as flipping the bird to the medical establishment, as much as saving time on his life’s clock. He succeeded for years, if success is measurable by the extra years that he lived (not to mention the additional patients who lived longer as a result of his efforts).

Mothers and Sons is the examination by McNally (who also hails from Texas, though from Corpus Christi) of the years after the death of Andre, the boyfriend of lead character Cal Porter (Frederick Weller), who died of AIDS some 20 years earlier.  In 90 minutes, the audience witnesses the real time visit by Andre’s mother, Katharine Gerard (yet another powerful performance by Tony Award winner Tyne Daly). When the play begins, it becomes apparent that Katharine tracked Cal down via his sister, to a beautiful new apartment (designed by Tony Award winner John Lee Beatty), a husband named Will Ogden (Bobby Steggert) and, most shockingly to Katharine, their six-year old, Bud Ogden-Porter (Grayson Taylor).  Katharine, coming to repatriate a personal belonging of her son, which Cal had sent to her, makes her surprise appearance into a family’s life, rather than into the life of the formerly single man she resents for surviving and thriving in the wake of her son’s death.

In other words, McNally is not giving us (and foisting upon Katharine, whose part was expressly written for Daly) Modern Family, but rather A Modern Family. There are difficult to view memorabilia, which serve as conversation starters for the underlying discussion of family and personal secrets, the sick role and the role of the care giver, the meaning of love (both romantic and familial).  Katharine tells Cal that her son Andre “was not gay” until he moved to New York (obviously, and later proven, untrue). There are trades of accusations as to whom and how the transmission of Andre’s HIV took place.

There is formality and contained physicality of drama, an interesting with directorial choices by Sheryl Kaller. As one such example, when the curtain rises, Katharine is standing rigidly while wearing a fur coat (which she refuses to take off for a length of time), and she and Weller (looking equally uncomfortable) look out at the audience for some 30 seconds. They refer to each other by surnames for a length of the play (unthinkable in today’s society of informality, perhaps even more so since the players repeatedly make contemporary references and refer back 20 years to Andre’s death).

The story of Cal’s former lover’s death and his recovery to moving forward to a new marriage and biologically related offspring appalls Katharine, but serves as a social history of AIDS.  Also, in addition to finely making the point that 50-year-old Cal’s generational compatriots were slowly and cruelly robbed of their lives in a parade of horrors, McNally has Cal making the point to Katharine that the world lost contributions in the professional and artistic worlds.  Well-done is McNally’s creation of a 15-year junior husband, who grew up assuming that HIV/AIDS was a risk factor, who assumed that he would have a chance for a full life with children, a life to be lived well.

Today, I had a congenial disagreement with a long-time friend who saw this superb chamber piece a few days after I did. She said that she was disappointed that Katharine does not change in the course of the play;  my response was that Katharine changes enormously, giving both sorrowful back story and a surprising glimmer of hope for an unexpected future.

See this excellent piece and decide for yourself.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c73id4I37_o

 

Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD was named the 2011/2012 SGA Faculty Member of the Year at St. Francis College for her work in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her first book, The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate, (Greenwood Press:  2012) has been nominated and short listed for the 2013 British Society of Criminology Book Prize and most recently nominated for the 2014 International Qualitative Inquiry Book Prize. Her doctoral dissertation for the London School of Economics and Political Science (Department of Law, co-supervised by the Department of Sociology), was entitled, The Politics of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Comparative Case Study of Emerging Criminal Law and the Criminal Trials of Jack ‘Dr. Death’ Kevorkian.. She also writes about dramaturgy, culinary culture, visual sociology and criminal justice issues.  She may be reached at DemetraPappas@yahoo.com and followed on Twitter @DemetraPappas

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?

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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.

Should There Be College Programs for Prisoners?

Nickie Phillips

St. Francis College will host a screening of the forthcoming HBO Documentary Sing-Sing University. The screening will be hosted by Sean Pica (Executive Director, Hudson Link Prison-Based Higher Education Initiative and graduate of the program) and will be followed by a Q&A with other graduates of the prison college programs featured in the film. The screening will be held at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY

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What Introductory Criminal Justice Students Need to Know About the Media and Crime

Nickie Phillips

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At the start of a new semester, criminal justice professors face the daunting task of demystifying media myths

Danielle Reynolds, Crimcast Correspondent

The media, through various means, has become the primary source of news and entertainment for many Americans. Each day the media reaches millions of viewers, listeners and readers throughout the world and provides a rapid broadcast of knowledge and information. Although the ability to have “the world at our fingertips” is beneficial, the inaccuracies and rash portrayals of current events can lead to inadvertent consequences.

Crime in the news

Crime is portrayed in the media on a daily basis, whether it is in the newspapers, on television, via video or written blogs, among other means. As criminologist Ray Surette explains, news regarding crime may be general, referring to broad trends and issues, or specific, in reference to a particular crime incident. The media has one objective, to sell stories. Therefore, it chooses which crimes, victims and court cases merit attention, often choosing to expose the most sensational, emotional, and significant crime stories. Unfortunately, the media does not always broadcast information in an objective or accurate manner, which can lead to unintended consequences.

How the media portrays crime

The media increases crime salience through agenda setting, priming and framing the “best-selling” stories. The public is exposed to certain crime issues and then primed to believe that those issues warrant more political attention. The media chooses which social problems merit greater attention and relies on the government and experts to interpret and contextualize these problems to the public. As viewers, we rely on the government and experts to frame the news for us and determine the criteria by which we judge public policies or crime related issues. Lastly, the media encourages its audience to arrive at certain conclusions by promoting a particular treatment recommendation or moral evaluation to the problem. It often focuses blame on a particular individual or larger social or political institution, which ultimately affects punitiveness and future policy preferences.

Representations of the police in the media are often overdramatized and romanticized. Research has shown that police are often presented favorably in television and movies; as fictional television dramas show the majority of cases solved and criminal suspects successfully apprehended. Unfortunately, crime presented as entertainment distorts viewers understanding of criminal investigations. Subsequently, the public develops unrealistic expectations regarding the investigation process, police use of force and forensic evidence. Such portrayal reinforces traditional law enforcement tactics including increased police presence, harsh penalties and increasing police power.

The effect on viewers

It has been argued that heavy television viewers have an altered perception of the “real world”, shaped by the media. Therefore, these viewers feel a greater threat from crime and believe that crime is more prevalent than statistics indicate. Violent crime is disproportionately broadcast and portrayed as more violent, random and dangerous than in the “real world”. Subsequently, viewers internalize these crime stories and develop a “scary” image of reality. Unfortunately, this threatening perception of society initiates fear, mistrust, and alienation, causing viewers to support more “quick-fix” solutions against crime.

Leading to punitive policies

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Misinformation dispersed by the media heightens public sensitivity to the crime problem, reinforcing public sense of immediate and inescapable danger. Subsequently, fear and anxiety develop as the public pressures politicians for a “quick-fix” and extreme solution to the crime problem. These “quick-fix” solutions focus on short-term crime relief, resulting in more punitive rather than preventative polices and encourage more policing, arrests and longer sentences.

The media coverage of minorities and crime demonstrates the disproportionate portrayal of minorities shown in menacing contexts. Blacks are more likely than whites to be shown in mug shots, in physical custody of the police and victimizing strangers and members of different races. Media representations of minorities result in exaggerations of crime statistics including the number of blacks arrested for crimes and the likelihood that the public will be victimized by minorities. This ultimately attributes the crime problem to blacks as a group. This false depiction of minority criminals leads to public fear and mistrust of minorities, allowing for the expansion of punitive policies based on race.

This culpability was demonstrated by the media’s coverage of the “War on Drugs”. The media exposed an imminent and threatening national crisis and recommended the use of power and mobilization of massive resources to curb the threat and vanquish the “enemy”. Images and stereotypes of the “enemy”, exposed by the media, included young, inner-city, minority males in gangs terrorizing communities and innocent citizens while conducting illegal drug deals and committing various crimes. Subsequently, the public became fearful and began to alienate themselves from the community, while pressuring politicians for an immediate “quick-fix” solution. Consequently, the police crackdown on street-level drug dealers and harsher sentences resulted in additional arrests and longer prison sentences. However, the underlying conditions leading to the drug problem remained unidentified and unaffected. In addition, the punitive “quick-fix” solution lead to unintended consequences, including angry and hardened attitudes towards offenders, increased costs of the criminal justice system and intensified racial tensions, resulting from targeting minorities. Concerns about constitutional and civil rights waned, citing more immediate concerns for public safety. Respect for the law eroded, as the public encouraged more aggressive policing strategies, exposing citizens to expanded discretion of law enforcement and infringements of their Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.

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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.

The Euthanasia Assisted Suicide Debate

Nickie Phillips

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Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD, formerly an adjunct in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice (where she was named the 2012 SGA Faculty Member of the Year) was welcomed back to St. Francis College by the Center for Crime and Popular Culture on November 14, 2013, when she spoke about “Prosecutorial Discretion in Medical Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Cases: Jack Kevorkian as a ‘Chapter’ in the Anglo-American Debate.” This talk was in conjunction with a launch of her book, The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate (Greenwood, 2012), which was short listed for the 2013 British Society of Criminology Book Prize and is nominated for the 2014 International Qualitative Inquiry Book Prize.

Pappas previously penned a PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science (Department of Law, with co-supervision in the Department of Sociology), entitled The Politics of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Comparative Case Study

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 of Emerging Criminal Law and the Criminal Trials of Jack ‘Dr. Death’ Kevorkian, which was an ethnographic study of the criminal trials against euthanasia and assisted suicide doctor Kevorkian, and which included field chapters on chief prosecuting attorneys/judges, juries/jurors, family members of decedents and the role of the media in precipitating (as well as reporting upon) the Kevorkian cases.

A central point of Pappas’ presentation was that her doctoral work was but one chapter of her historical study.

 Her book also included a chapter on the medical euthanasia of King George V in 1936 and the conflict of interest of royal physician Lord Dawson of Penn during deliberations on legalizing medical euthanasia later that year (ironically, Lord Dawson was opposed to legalization and, more specifically, regulation, of medical euthanasia, because that would invade the province of the physician). She also spoke about how the grand jury in New York declined to indict Rochester Dr. Timothy Quill in 1991 (who later was among a group of doctors to sue for legal physician suicide, taking a landmark case to the United States Supreme Court) and a Louisiana grand jury declined to indict Dr. Anna Pou, who administered euthanasia to a number of patients in post-Katrina New Orleans.

During an animated Q and A was a question about whether, and under what conditions, people might be prosecuted for “death tourism,” i.e., traveling to jurisdictions where assisted suicide may be legally available to non-residents, pointing to the question of whether those who travel to Switzerland’s Dignitas should face criminal liability.

A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House Museum

Nickie Phillips

John Kelvin Jones starts in A Christmas Carol at the Merchants Museum (photo:

Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD, Crimcast correspondent

In a time of economic inequality, the plight of the Cratchit family seems particularly poignant in New York City.

For some, the holiday season is about parties; for others, it is about the seasonal performances. Given that I would not have made a clever criminal, I will admit to having been known to enjoy both.  That said, this particular year, I have been performance focused, since my new knee, only two months old after total knee replacement, has not been deemed suitable for partying. (Actually, I quipped to a friend that my knee was probably suited to such occasions, but I had the sort of concern about brushes with others walking while drinking that I usually reserve to New Year's Eve drivers-- no judgment, just a healthy fear of testing the fall-abilities of the “knew knee,” I say self-deprecatingly.)

A unique opportunity presents at the Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street (between Bowery and Lafayette), 212-777-1089, in association with Summoners Ensemble Theatre.  John Kevin Jones offers a tour de force one man performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The Director’s Note, by Dr. Rhonda Dodd, explains that Jones was in the midst of developing a five actor version of the Dickens work during 2011,  when he decided to try this version, motivated by Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots (about which I have previously written about for Crimcast).  So it was that Jones took what Dickens did in 1843 and sought to create an abbreviated version of the play that would match Dickens’ comment on social and economic inequality.

Jones succeeds in this effort tremendously. First, he physically inhabits each character as he represents them, going from full ghostly wingspan to (pun admittedly intended) tiny Tiny Tim.  He voices Scrooge’s trembling fear, joyous rediscovery of life, and likewise gives full voice and physicality to Dickens’ female characters, as well.

Second, the play itself is designed for one hour, with 15-minute segments that a lawyer dealing with billable hours would appreciate (roughly Spirit One/Christmas Past, Spirit Two/Christmas Present, Spirit Three/Christmas Future, with background and conclusion getting equal shares of the remaining quarter).  Several lawyers in the audience commented on this as I (also a lawyer) chimed in as to how remarkable it was.

Third, the selection of the Merchant’s House Museum as the location is quite simply inspired. All that the edifice needed (and now has) was a bit of holiday décor (PS on the ground floor, there is a case of vintage stockings and the like, not to be missed on the way in or out).  It is a lovely museum and the front and back rooms provide a perfect setting opportunity (in which folding chairs, which Jones quips are “vintage golden chairs,” as he introduces the performance), are set among the furniture and space of hardware merchant Seabury Treadwell, who purchased the building in 1835, just one year after Dickens authored A Christmas Carol.

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An additional – and terrific – feature is that Jones himself mingles and chats with audience members as they are leaving the museum.  He told several of us that according to legend (and perhaps even fact), during the writing of the original version (and Jones adapted this version from Dickens’ original touring version, while reintroducing a scene from the original novella), Dickens would wander the streets of London weeping over piece as he planned and re-edited it.  This humanizing authorial angst, combined with activism on behalf of the laboring poor, especially children (which he saw first hand, after his family lost its money and debtors prison resulted for his father, mother and youngest siblings), makes the plight of the Cratchit family even more accessible.

Jones has chiseled and set a jewel of a play at a jewel of a museum.

Crimcast correspondent Demetra Pappas was named the 2012 SGA Faculty Member of the Year at St. Francis College, for her work in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her recent book, Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America: The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate (Greenwood Press, 2012)  is a 100-year study of US and UK doctors prosecuted for medical euthanasia/assisted suicide and role of media) and was recently nominated for the 2014 International Qualitative Inquiry Book Prize and was nominated and short listed for the British Society of Criminology 2013 Criminology Book Prize.  In addition to her work on end-of-life issues, she writes about anti-stalking mechanisms, pedagogical methodology, visual sociology and pens work on travel (including what has become known as CSI Demetra travel pieces), theater and the arts, dining and culinary books, and historical/cultural sights.