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Archive for January 20th, 2014

Retired FBI Agent Thomas Louis Hughes Dies at Age 77

Thomas L. Hughes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thomas Louis Hughes, an FBI agent from 1961 to 1986, died last week at this home in Virginia Beach. He was 77.

According to an obituary on the Altmeyer Funeral Homes website, Hughes, since 2003, survived amputations, surgeries, and numerous hospitalizations.

“Through it all, his quiet strength of will and pleasant demeanor inspired all who knew him,” the obit said.

A native of Missouri, Hughes was working on a masters degree when he was recruited by the FBI.

He worked in the FBI Crime Lab and earned his Masters Degree in Forensics Science from George Washington University in 1971.

He was a recognized expert witness in 26 states and taught as an adjunct professor at George Washington University.

The obit said he he was Unit Chief in the Crime Lab; Unit Chief, Forensic Training Unit in the FBI Academy, Quantico; and Unit Chief, Administrative Unit, Laboratory Division.

He is survived by his wife Joan, daughter Kendall Hughes, grandchildren Danika and Landon Brackett, son and daughter-in-law, Craig and Judith Hughes. His son Doug Hughes passed away in 1995.

Memorial Service are set for 11 a.m.Saturday (Jan. 25) at Nimmo United Methodist Church, 2200 Princess Anne Road, Virginia Beach, VA.

 

A Free Man, Ex-NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik Now Pushes for Prison Reform

Bernie Kerik/ photo from his website

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

What’s Ex-NY Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik up to since he was released from federal prison after serving about three years?

For one, he’s back to running the Kerik Group, that provides security and countterrorism services internationally.

He’s also pushing for prison reform.

Kerik emailed a press release Sunday stating that he’s pushing for prison reform, and plans to deliver a speech on Jan. 29 at the Arlington Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA, to talk about a prison system he says is in dire need of repair.

His press release states:

Too many people are being sent to prison for non-violent offenses. The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. One in 31 Americans are behind bars, on probation or on parole. Our system of justice is too costly to the taxpayers and to family and friends of those being  incarcerated. Bernard Kerik has had a bird’s eye view and has come out of prison with specific recommendations.

In 2004, President George W. Bush nominated Kerik to serve as  Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A week later, he withdrew his name after admitting he failed to pay payroll taxes for his children’s nanny.

He ended up pleading guilty to income tax charges and lying to the federal government. He was sentenced to four years in prison and ended up serving about three years. He was released from federal custody last Oct. 15.

Last November, Matt Lauer of the Today Show interviewed Kerik about his life behind bars. (See the interview below).

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

NSA Phone Surveillance Generates More Than 1,000 Tips a Year for FBI to Investigate

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI receives more than 1,000 tips a year from information gathered from the NSA’s phone-surveillance program, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Newly declassified documents reveal that the NSA averages three tips a day that lead to terrorism probes.

“With respect to any information the FBI receives as a result of this order (information that is passed or “tipped” to it by NSA), the FBI shall follow minimization procedures,” the November 2006 document states. A footnote to that statement adds the NSA “expects that it will continue to provide on average approximately two telephone numbers a day to the FBI.”

The documents, released Friday, come as President Obama pledges to overhaul the system because of the public’s privacy concerns.

It’s unclear how accurate the tips were.

Murderer, Child Rapist Volunteers to Be Studied by Behavioral Analysts While in Prison

Elias Acevedo Sr.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Elias Acevedo Sr. said he doesn’t know why he raped children and killed two women more than 15 years ago.

Acevedo has agreed to be studied by behavioral analysts who work with the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime pleading guilty to the crimes last month, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

Acevedo “truly, truly feels horrible about what he did, but he doesn’t understand why it happened,” his attorney, Bret Jordan, said. “He doesn’t know if what he did could be prevented, but he wants to know.”

The FBI declined to comment on the arrangement.

 

President Obama: Marijuana No Worse Than Drinking Alcohol; Laws Should Be More Equitable

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama said smoking marijuana is no worse than drinking alcohol.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Obama said in an interview with the New Yorker. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Obama also showed support for legalizations of marijuana in Colorado and Washington and said it would create a more equitable justice system.

“It’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished,” Obama said.

Border Patrol Agent Fatally Shoots Man Following Scuffle in Southern Arizona

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man in southern Arizona following a struggle between the pair, the Associated Press reports.

Authorities were tracking a group of people Thursday night on suspicion of being in the country illegally.

While two of the suspect were apprehended, a third escaped. He was found under a mesquite tree and began fighting the agent and trying to steal his gun, the AP wrote.

The man is believed to be in his 20s. He died at the scene, the AP reported.

The shooting is under investigation.

Two ATF Agents Wounded in Oklahoma Shooting While Trying to Arrest Suspect

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Two ATF agents were wounded in Oklahoma after trying to arrest a man wanted in a shooting, the Associated Press reports.

The agents, whose names were not revealed, were treated and released and sustained no serious injuries.

Seventeen-year-old Henry Jackson was shot and killed by local police after he opened fire on them at 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Ardmore, according to police.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Some Quirky Ways to Reduce Crime

 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Some Quirky Ways to Reduce Crime

There are scores of proposals for methods and programs to reduce crime. And there is no shortage of criminologists, sociologists, social psychologists and criminal justice experts who make their living making these proposals. No doubt some of these “traditional” theories and projects deserve serious consideration.

But what about the nontraditional, the unorthodox proposals? The unusual, the out there and downright flaky-sounding suggestions—don’t they deserve a public outing?

The purpose of this column is not to review the oft-presented methods, like increased (or) decreased punishment, stronger community policing, an improved social safety net, and the like. Plus any discussion of gun control and immigration reform is way above my pay grade.

Instead presented in a nutshell for ticklethewire.com readers with shorter attention spans are some crime reduction proposals that are out of the mainstream, sometimes way out. These may or may not represent the views of the author or publisher.

1. Eat Healthy

Food Scientist Dr. Silvia Onusic has catalogued some myriad connections between aggressive behavior and nutritional deficiencies. In her article “Violent Behavior : A Solution in Plain Sight,” published by the Wilson A. Price Foundation, she presents an interesting study that the modern diet lacks vital vitamins and minerals necessary for the brain and nervous system to develop and function properly. The loss of nutrients in the diets especially of children and teenagers result in an unhealthy mental capacity and a tendency toward poor decision making.

For example she notes several studies demonstrating that insufficient vitamin A especially during gestation can contribute to symptoms of schizophrenia and problems with learning ability. Similarly vitamin D-3 deficiency can cause the increased risk of panic and depression. She proceeds through a dizzying number of other vitamins, K and several of the Bs, as well as minerals like iodine, potassium, iron, magnesium and others, that, when inadequate in the diet, can result in negative mental symptoms and violent behavior.

The article also takes aim at junk food diets filled with carbohydrates, sugar and thousands of food additives. For example several studies have shown that lowering sugar consumption can curb antisocial behavior.

A dozen other studies from research around the globe have linked inadequate diets with crime, psychosis, depression, violence and ADHD.

So I guess Mom was right.

2. Eliminate Lead in the Environment

Awhile back this column explored the proposition that even moderate lead exposure can be a primary cause of crime. Several studies, especially one by Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes of Amherst College, compared juvenile lead exposure with test scores and behavior problems. Her conclusion, even moderately elevated blood levels could be responsible for increased aggressiveness and violent criminal behavior, even years later.

Other studies have also shown a correlation between even low blood lead levels and violent crime incident graphs for populations in New Orleans, New York City, Australia, Canada, and Finland.

The solution–spend a bunch of money, billions of dollars, to eliminate lead from the environment. The human and economic benefits are, of course speculative, but this seems worth some definitive studies to determine whether it would be a good investment.

3. Better Vegetation in the Neighborhoods

Can better managed trees and grass prevent crime? Hard to believe at first blush, but M. Wolfe and J. Mennis in a 2012 study purported to show that more vegetation like trees, shrubs and grass had a beneficial effect on urban crime in Philadelphia. Their study, “Does Vegetation Encourage or Suppress Urban Crime?” published in Landscape and Urban Planning magazine, concluded that better maintained greenery resulted in a “calming effect” on populations, improved social interaction and closer neighborhood watch over public areas.

This was pretty much the same conclusion of a study by Geoffrey Donovan and Jeffrey Prestemon conducted in Oregon. They compared crime data with the level of vegetation in residential areas, especially the presence of large trees.

Before we dismiss these conclusions as correlation not causation, consider the theory that broken windows and unclean streets encourage crime. New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani instituted an aggressive program for cleaning up New York in order to create an environment where rule-breaking, even misdemeanors, were outside the accepted norm. My strong impression is that most New Yorkers believe the program was effective in helping to reduce crime.

4. Prevent Crime App on Your Smart Phone

The social media has invaded every other element of our culture, why not criminal enforcement? Smart phone users do love their apps. My wife has so many she can’t remember them all. Now Victoria, British Columbia Police has a free app aimed at reducing crime. The app provides a cutting edge tool for reporting and tracking a crime, and it can be done anonymously. Users can also view crime reports for a particular area or location plus other information from the police department.

5. Convincing Drug Dealers to Stop

David Kennedy, the Director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, worked with High Point, New Jersey police in a pilot program to convince known drug dealers to quit. First the police found a prosecutable case against 16 prominent dealers. Then they worked with the community to set up meetings between the dealers and the residents to confront them with the harm their activity was causing to the neighborhood.

After the meeting police officers would present the dealers with an option—if they continued to sell drugs, they will be picked up “within the hour” and prosecuted vigorously. If not, they would not be charged.

The key to the program’s success apparently has been the community response, both in improved relations with police and in providing pressure on the drug market. Apparently ignoring the police is one thing but offending your neighbors is quite another.

6. Free Books

St. Louis police in one of the city’s highest crime areas, Dutchtown, have instituted a program of giving away books to high-risk juveniles. The activity is intended to provide an alternative source of recreation as well as build better relationships between the officers on the street and the youth. The officers also reward reading activities with gift certificates from local businesses

The connection between illiteracy and crime is well established. DOJ reports that 70% of the country’s inmates read at or below the 4th grade level.

Police have set up collection barrels where books can be donated by the public. The books are then transferred to book stands throughout the neighborhood, where they are freely available.

No results are available but the department apparently thinks enough of the public response to expand the program into other neighborhoods.

7. CCTV Surveillance in Public Areas

In the last two decades police in the U.K., especially the city of London, have installed tens of thousands of surveillance cameras for the purpose of reducing crime. The cost has amounted to a half billion pounds in the last few years.

The cameras are placed in public areas such as shopping centers and tube stations, often at the request of local residents and businessmen.

The debate is vigorous about the cameras’ effectiveness and their effect on civil rights. Organizations like Big Brother Watch consider the surveillance to be a step toward the totalitarian society of George Orwell in the book 1984. Supporters argue that they are an inhibiting influence on criminals as well as a significant help in solving crimes.

In the U.S. no one knows how many security cameras have been installed in urban areas. The estimates vary to as high as 200 million installed since 9/11. The existence of facial recognition software has raised additional privacy concerns.

The rapid identification and resulting apprehension of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, however, have indicated how useful security cameras can be in terrorist attacks.

I have left out a few of the latest unorthodox crime prevention strategies. One involves providing jobs to offenders released from jail to act as “violence-interrupters” among criminal gangs. Another wonky one is entitled Statistical Crime Prevention, which studies the way crimes occur and then changes that environment to reduce the incentive for crime by increasing the difficulty of committing it and lowering the benefit involved. Yet another treats crime as a communicable disease and applies public health analyses and treatment models. How about banning what would otherwise be criminal assaults in professional sports since they serve as examples of acceptable behavior to kids and young men? I think that’s the only reason some guys watch hockey.

I won’t even mention one of my favorites, a national mandatory fingerprint and DNA data collection requirement at birth, for fear of frightening the few civil rights friends I have left.

Some of these theories and programs seem peculiar, but I agree we need to go beyond law enforcement and criminal justice to take on crime problems, especially violent crime. I, for one, am willing to give some quirky ideas a second look.