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Crime and the Failure of America's Penal System
The American prison system has grown tenfold since the 1970s, but crime rates in the United States have not decreased. This doesn't surprise Michael J. Lynch, a critical criminologist, who argues that our oversized prison system is a product of our consumer culture, the public's inaccurate beliefs about controlling crime, and the government's criminalizing of the poor. While deterrence and incapacitation theories suggest that imprisoning more criminals and punishing them leads to a reduction in crime, case studies, such as one focusing on the New York City jail system between 1993 and 2003, show that a reduction in crime is unrelated to the size of jail populations. Although we are locking away more people, Lynch explains that we are not targeting the worst offenders. Prison populations are comprised of the poor, and many are incarcerated for relatively minor robberies and violence. America's prison expansion focused on this group to the exclusion of corporate and white collar offenders who create hazardous workplace and environmental conditions that lead to deaths and injuries, and enormous economic crimes. If America truly wants to reduce crime, Lynch urges readers to rethink cultural values that equate bigger with better.
The Untold Story of the Control of Nevada's Casinos
A tale of good and evil, of corruption and deceit, of prejudice, politics, and power, this compelling account scrutinizes the immensely lucrative Nevada gambling industry’s struggle to maintain legitimacy—or at least the appearance of it.
Ronald A. Farrell and Carole Case tell how state regulators created the “Black Book” in the 1960s, a list of “notorious and unsavory” persons banned forever from owning, managing, or even entering casinos in the state. The regulators dramatically pursued and publicly denounced former lieutenants of Al Capone, alleged overlords of the American Mafia, nationally known professional gamblers, and major casino owners, as well as small-time bookies and hoods, reputed sports fixers, and gambling cheats. To date, thirty-eight names have been entered in the Black Book, including Sam Giancana, Anthony Spilotro, and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.
Farrell and Case contend, however, that the denunciations were a melodrama, meant to show that the government was cleansing the city of corruption. Through the Black Book, the regulators focus public attention on “the Mob,” rather than on a multitude of competing criminal interests already in the gaming industry. The authors uncover evidence of ethnic discrimination by the regulators, including selective prosecution of Italian Americans whose notoriety fit popular Mafia stereotypes.
The Black Book and the Mob records hearings of the regulatory commission and the voices of lawyers, government officials, casino owners, and the people named in the Black Book itself. This Las Vegas story is a rebuke to the gaming industry and a cautionary tale for many states and communities now weighing the legalization of casino gambling.
The Assassination of Patrolman James Sackett
On May 22, 1970, responding to a bogus emergency call to help a pregnant woman, St. Paul patrolman James Sackett was killed by a sniper’s bullet fired from a high-powered rifle. The white officer’s assassination was the most shocking event in an era of shocking, racially charged events, punctuated by bombings at Dayton’s Department Store and elsewhere, police harassment and shootings of young black men, an alleged hijacking plot, and random acts of urban violence. a once peaceful, close-knit community, St. Paul’s summit-university neighborhood had reached a boiling point, heated by racism and rage. Award-winning journalist William Swanson masterfully walks the razor-edge between the grief and anger of a police force that lost one of its own and the deep-seated resentment and subsequent silence of a community that had many reasons not to trust the cops. Based on extensive interviews and archival research, Black White Blue recounts the details of one of the most extraordinary cold-case sagas in U.S. annals—a story featuring dozens of memorable characters, including a relentless “super cop,” an aggregation of conflicted informants, and a haunted woman who grew old with a terrible secret. The case culminates with the controversial trials, decades later, of Ronald Reed and Larry Clark. Black White Blue, is a powerful, true account of crime and punishment, time and memory, race, community, and personal relationships.
The Mythology of a Gunfighter, Second Edition
William Preston “Bill” Longley (1851-1878), though born into a strong Christian family, turned bad during Reconstruction in Texas, much like other young boys of that time, including the deadly John Wesley Hardin. He went on a murderous rampage over the last few years of his life, shotgunning Wilson Anderson in retribution for Anderson’s killing of a relative; killing George Thomas in McLennan County; and shooting William “Lou” Shroyer in a running gunfight. Longley even killed the Reverend William R. Lay while Lay was milking a cow. Once he was arrested in 1877, and subsequently sentenced to hang, his name became known statewide as an outlaw and a murderer. Through a series of “autobiographical” letters written from jail while awaiting the hangman, Longley created and reveled in his self-centered image as a fearsome, deadly gunfighter—the equal, if not the superior, of the vaunted Hardin. Declaring himself the “worst outlaw” in Texas, the story that he created became the basis for his historical legacy, unfortunately relied on and repeated over and over by previous biographers, but all wrong. In truth, Bill Longley was not the daring figure that he attempted to paint. Rick Miller’s thorough research shows that he was, instead, a braggart who exaggerated greatly his feats as a gunman. The murders that could be credited to him were generally nothing more than cowardly assassinations. Bloody Bill Longley was first published in a limited edition in 1996. Miller separates fact from fancy, attempting to prove or disprove Longley’s many claims of bloodshed. Since the time of the first edition, diligent research has located and identified the outlaw’s body, the absence of which was a longstanding myth in itself. This revised edition includes that part of the Longley story, as well as several new items of information that have since come to light.
A CSI Scandal in the Heartland
The remote farming community of Murdock, Nebraska, seemed to be the least likely setting for one of the heartland’s most ruthless and bloody double murders in decades. In fact, the little town had gone more than a century without a single homicide. But on the night of Easter 2006, Wayne and Sharmon Stock were brutally murdered in their home. The murders garnered sensational frontpage headlines and drew immediate statewide attention. Practically everybody around Murdock was filled with fear, panic, and outrage. Who killed Wayne and Sharmon Stock? What was the motive? The Stocks were the essence of Nebraska’s all-American farm family, self-made, God-fearing, and of high moral character. Barely a week into this double murder investigation, two arrests brought a sense of relief to the victims’ family and to local residents. The case appeared to fall neatly into place when a tiny speck of murder victim Wayne Stock’s blood appeared in the alleged getaway car.
Then, an obscure clue left at the crime scene took the investigation down a totally different path, stretching into Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin. By the time this investigation was over, the charges against the original suspects were dismissed and two new individuals emerged from the shadows.
Author John Ferak covered the Stock murders from the very beginning, including all of the trial proceedings. When the criminal prosecution finally ended in 2007, he remained puzzled by one nagging question: Why was the blood of victim Wayne Stock in a car that was ultimately proven to have no connection to the murders?
Over the next few years, the astonishing “bloody lies” were revealed, culminating in a law enforcement scandal that turned the case on its head and destroyed the career of Nebraska’s celebrated CSI director, David Kofoed.
Habeas Corpus and American Jurisprudence
The writ of habeas corpus is the principal means by which state prisoners, many on death row, attack the constitutionality of their conviction in federal courts. In The Body and the State, Cary Federman contends that habeas corpus is more than just a get-out-of-jail-free card—it gives death row inmates a constitutional means of overturning a jury’s mistaken determination of guilt. Tracing the history of the writ since 1789, Federman examines its influence on federal-state relations and argues that habeas corpus petitions turn legal language upside down, threatening the states’ sovereign judgment to convict and execute criminals as well as upsetting the discourse, created by the Supreme Court, that the federal-state relationship ought not be disturbed by convicted criminals making habeas corpus appeals. He pays particular attention to the changes in the discourse over federalism and capital punishment that have restricted the writ’s application over time.
Murder and Sensationalism in the South
Centered on a series of dramatic murders in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Richmond, Virginia, ###The Body in the Reservoir# uses these gripping stories of crime to explore the evolution of sensationalism in southern culture. In Richmond, as across the nation, the embrace of modernity was accompanied by the prodigious growth of mass culture and its accelerating interest in lurid stories of crime and bloodshed. But while others have emphasized the importance of the penny press and yellow journalism on the shifting nature of the media and cultural responses to violence, Michael Trotti reveals a more gradual and nuanced story of change. In addition, Richmond's racial makeup (one-third to one-half of the population was African American) allows Trotti to challenge assumptions about how black and white media reported the sensational; the surprising discrepancies offer insight into just how differently these two communities experienced American justice.An engaging look at the connections between culture and violence, this book gets to the heart--or perhaps the shadowy underbelly--of the sensational as the South became modern.Trotti explores murder cases and media and community responses to them as a way of understanding the evolution of sensationalism in the south from the colonial era to the age of ragtime. As the country began to embrace modernity at the turn of the century, the growth of mass culture facilitated (and was facilitated by) people's interest in lurid stories of crime and bloodshed. Trotti argues that this trend was especially evident in the south. He looks at cases based in Richmond, a mid-sized city with a high population density and a range of industries. Richmond also allows Trotti to make comparisons between the sensationalism of the white press and public and how the black community framed crime sensations and justice more generally. He demonstrates what got sensationalized, and how, as well as how the nature of the sensationalism changed over the decades.Centered on a series of dramatic murders in 19th- and early 20th-century Richmond, Virginia, ###The Body in the Reservoir# uses these gripping stories of crime to explore the evolution of sensationalism in southern culture. In Richmond, as across the nation, the embrace of modernity was accompanied by the prodigious growth of mass culture and its accelerating interest in lurid stories of crime and bloodshed. An engaging look at the connections between culture and violence, this book gets to the heart--or perhaps the shadowy underbelly--of the sensational as the South became modern.Centered on a series of dramatic murders in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Richmond, Virginia, ###The Body in the Reservoir# uses these gripping stories of crime to explore the evolution of sensationalism in southern culture. In Richmond, as across the nation, the embrace of modernity was accompanied by the prodigious growth of mass culture and its accelerating interest in lurid stories of crime and bloodshed. But while others have emphasized the importance of the penny press and yellow journalism on the shifting nature of the media and cultural responses to violence, Michael Trotti reveals a more gradual and nuanced story of change. In addition, Richmond's racial makeup (one-third to one-half of the population was African American) allows Trotti to challenge assumptions about how black and white media reported the sensational; the surprising discrepancies offer insight into just how differently these two communities experienced American justice.An engaging look at the connections between culture and violence, this book gets to the heart--or perhaps the shadowy underbelly--of the sensational as the South became modern.
Life As a Forensic Anthropologist
“On the first day of the search, I failed to find the body.” So writes forensic anthropologist and bioarchaeologist Mary H. Manhein—or “the bone lady” as law enforcement personnel call her. In this, one of dozens of stories recollected in her powerful memoir, Manhein and the state police eventually unearth a black plastic bag buried in the banks of the Mississippi River containing the body of a man who has been missing for five years. After the painstaking process of examining the remains, confirming the victim’s identity, and preparing a formal report for the police, Manhein testifies for the prosecution at the murder trial. The defendant is convicted (due in no small part to Manhein), and the bone lady has helped solve yet another mystery. As director of the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory at Louisiana State University, Manhein unravels mysteries of life and death every day. In The Bone Lady, she shares, with the compassion and humor of a born storyteller, many fascinating cases that include the science underlying her analyses as well as the human stories behind the remains. Manhein, an expert on the human skeleton, assists law enforcement by providing profiles of remains that narrow the identification process when the traditional means used by medical examiners or coroners to conduct autopsies are no longer applicable—simply put, when bones are all that are left to tell the story. She assesses age, sex, race, height, signs of trauma, and time since death, and creates clay facial reconstructions. The case studies Manhein includes in The Bone Lady highlight the diversity of the field of forensic anthropology. She presents some of her more lighthearted cases, such as that instigated by the suburban man who discovers a box of bones buried in his backyard labeled “Patsy Lou Bates—Sis.” A coroner, police investigators, and swarms of media are present when Manhein identifies Patsy Lou as a dearly departed family pet. One of her most chilling cases concerns a husband who murdered his wife, buried her in their yard, planted a rose garden over her grave, and continued to garden there for eight years until his deed was discovered. Manhein’s involvement in historic cases includes her participation in the exhumation of Dr. Carl Weiss, the alleged assassin of Huey P. Long. Although Manhein enjoys solving high-profile cases, her personal crusade is identifying the John and Jane Does who wait in her lab. Manhein’s own words perfectly characterize her mission: “Identifying a victim can bring peace of mind to the family and can help them to go on with their lives. Some-times, peace of mind is the only gift that I can give.”
Cold Cases in Forensic Anthropology
Over the past thirty years, forensic anthropologist Mary H. Manhein has helped authorities to identify hundreds of deceased persons throughout Louisiana and beyond. In Bone Remains, she offers details of twenty riveting cases from her files -- many of them involving facial reconstructions where only bones offered clues to an individual's story.
Manhein takes readers into the field, inside her lab, and through DNA databases and government bureaucracies as she and her team tirelessly work to identify and seek justice for those who can no longer speak for themselves. From a two-thousand-year-old mummy, to Civil War sailors, to graves disturbed by Hurricane Isaac, Manhein presents both modern and historic cases. Her conversational accounts provide a fascinating look into the stories behind the headlines as well as sometimes heart-wrenching details of people lost and found.
Manhein shows how each case came to her team, how they used scientific analysis to unravel the secrets the bones had to tell, and how facial reconstructions and a special database for missing and unidentified people assisted in closing cold cases long believed to be unsolvable. She also discusses several mysteries that still elude her, further reflecting the determination and passion central to Manhein's career for over three decades.