Educational Product

What's Education For

Most of us believe we need to provide our children with a quality education. However for every person you ask to define what “quality education” means, you would probably get a different answer.  We also need to be thinking ahead to what we want to happen at the end of the school years. Are we preparing students for factory and/or vocational jobs? Are we preparing students to further their studies in colleges and universities? Do we want to ensure that students become life long learners or are we just happy with producing cookie cutter copies of graduates who were all educated exactly alike? These are just some of the many things that educators and parents need to consider. What is an acceptable educational product? Though there aren’t any easy answers to these questions (and many others), it is important to consider educational options based on what parents and students want as the desired outcome of the educational experience.

Once we determine what is a desirable educational product in our students, we must then consider how we approach learning and teaching to achieve that outcome. There are many possibilities in the United States. Many different methods have been tried in the US and many are still an option. To explore these options, I checked out the following books all with alternative ideas to standard educational approaches.
Reskilling America

In Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century by Katherine S. Newman and Hella Winston the authors believe that a more vocational education is what America’s graduates need. They believe that high schools should not be pushing every student towards college classes. They believe instead that when students graduate high school that they should already have employable job skills and be able to enter the labor force immediately.

The School Revolution

In The School Revolution, Ron Paul advocates for homeschooling. In some developed countries (Germany for example) it is illegal to home school your children. The US allows for all sorts of differing educational experiences–including many forms of homeschooling. Ron Paul believes that parents should be educating their own children at home. As a former teacher I can see pros and cons to this approach. As a Christian parent, and especially in recent years, I can definitely see the appeal of this approach. (Hopefully I will be commenting more in depth on this topic in a later post.)

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In The BIG Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business by Dennis Littky with Samantha Grabelle, the author believes that the traditional school model (a student leaves home to go to a school building) is workable, however he believes that the educational model of traditional schools needs some serious overhauling. Of all of these books, this is the one that really resonated with me. We’ve all heard that schools teach the “three R’s: Reading, (W)Riting, and (A)Rithmatic.” The approach modeled in this book is based on a lot of collaboration with school, home, the students, and the community.  This educational approach still has three R’s although they differ from the traditional ones. In this case the three R’s stand for Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor.  There is heavy emphasis in this approach to build a culture of trust and respect. Kids will be respectful and open to learning if they are themselves treated with respect. Producing students who want to learn and will become life long learners is one of the core goals of this sort of approach.  There is so much good information in this book that I could never fit into one post so I will encourage those who are interested in it to read it for themselves. If you are a parent or teacher and want the best for your student(s), I highly recommend this book. The book itself has put all the big ideas into boldface print so you could even skim read it and still come out with a great understanding. I really did love this book and the ideas are not that hard to carry out, but it does require educators, parents, and students to all be on the same page in the educational process. When I was in school learning how to be a teacher, this is also how I was taught and how I was taught to teach. I cannot say enough good about this book.

Did you have a teacher who treated you with respect? Do you lean towards a particular educational model? What is your idea of a perfect educational product?

 

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370 Education

Education

After spending over a year exploring the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services), I am finally ready to move on to the 370’s, Education. Education is a constantly changing field with many subtopics. Being a former teacher myself I am excited to see what the Fulton County Public Library has to offer in this category.

All of us would probably agree that a good quality education is important. Most of us would agree that our educational system is not perfect and can always be improved. Some of the first books I encountered in this section do indeed have an emphasis on improving what happens in the classroom. In theory parents, teachers, and students should all be working together to get the most out of our educational system. With limited resources and funding, America’s teachers have to be creative and that is exactly what I found to be true in I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids by Kyle Schwartz.

I Wish My Teacher Knew

Ms. Schwartz is an elementary school teacher who emphasizes building relationships with students and their families. She believes this helps bridge the gap between school and home as well as establish trust between teachers, students, classmates, and parents. As a first year teacher Ms. Schwartz explained to her class that she wanted to get to know them better. She had the simple idea to use a sentence starter, “I wish my teacher knew…” and have her students finish it. The wide range of answers that students came up with totally astounded Kyle Schwatz and she has used this idea in her classroom ever since. She also shared the idea on social media and it went viral as other teachers across the country picked up on it. This simple idea has helped teachers across the country be able to connect better with their students, adjust lessons to fit individual needs, combat hunger and poverty as well as many other tough topics. If you are a teacher or if you teach informally in any capacity, I suggest that you read this book.

When I was teaching, I did something similar in my classrooms. All of my students kept a journal. They could write what ever they wanted to in their journals. This was an ungraded communication between me and my students. When my students entered my room the first thing they did was get their journals out of the journal basket and write in them. Often the students wrote notes to me which I answered every day.  My students thought it was cool to be passing notes with the teacher. Like Ms. Schwartz’s  students, my students brought up all sorts of topics. The only journal rules were that there were to be no bad words (most of my students were middle schoolers) and that they had to write at least one sentence everyday. The majority of my students wrote much more than one sentence. This gave purpose to their writing and they didn’t feel intimidated because they were not graded (although I did correct their spelling). This also gave me the opportunity to interact privately each day with every student I had. Often problems were solved this way. Sometimes students made suggestions and other times they just wanted to tell me that their cat had kittens. The students felt “heard.” At other times I could simply let an individual student know what I appreciated about him or her.

Equally as important as the idea of students communicating with teachers is the need for teachers to communicate with parents. The next book is similar to the previous one except that in this book the emphasis is on teachers wishing parents knew various things.

What America's Teachers Wish Parents Knew

Though this is an older book, I still think it is beneficial for parents to read it. Much of the information in this book is still very relevant. Successful students usually have cooperating adults in their lives.  I recommend this book for parents of school aged children.

I wish I could say that there is a third book about what parents wish teachers knew, but I could find no such book. (For all of you authors out there, here is another topic wide open for you). I searched the Fulton County Public Library for such a book and could not find one. Then I broadened my search to Evergreen (our statewide library consortium) and could not locate this type of book there either. I’m sure that we have books encouraging parents to communicate with teachers but not a simplified one like the previous two books.

Did you have teachers who communicated with you in writing? If you were a teacher how did you communicate individually with your students? Thinking about your favorite teachers, was their communication style something that sticks out in your mind?

Boy Scouts

Boy Scout Pledge

The Boy Scouts first began in Great Britain when army officer Robert Braden-Powell discovered that his book, Aids for Scouts, was being purchased and read by young boys interested in information about outdoor living, observation, and skills needed by army scouts. Though Braden-Powell intended his book to be a military manual, it soon was being adapted. Recognizing that his book could help teach boys life skills and values along with competence, Robert Braden-Powell  soon adapted his work into Scouting for Boys. First published in 1908 Scouting for Boys sold millions of copies and the scouting movement was officially born. Robert Braden-Powell became the founder of the Boy Scouts.

Scout Stuff

The first 100 years of the early Boy Scouts (and to a small degree the Girl Scouts) is outlined in Boy Scouts of America Scout Stuff: A Centennial History of Scouting Memrabilia by Robert Birkby. This is an adult picture book with very interesting pictures and facts about the Boy Scouts. Many facts shared in this post come from this book.

Another Englishman, Ernest Thompson Seten,  lived in Canada and had a similar idea to that of Robert Braden-Powell. Seten was an avid outdoorsman who encouraged boys to experience the great outdoors and develop skills for outdoor living. Seten called his organization Woodcraft Indians. Eight years after founding the Woodcraft Indians, Seten was invited to fold his organization into the Boy Scouts and Seten himself became the first Chief Scout. Seten was the primary author of the Boy Scout Handbook. Largely due to Seten’s efforts, the Boy Scouts core values and ethics were formed.

Seven years after the birth of the Boy Scouts in England, an American businessman, William D. Boyce,  was lost in London during a fog. An English Scout noticed the businessman’s plight and guided him to his destination. Boyce was so impressed with the young man and the idea of Scouting that he brought the idea back with him to America and formed the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). It was easy enough for city boys to join the Boy Scouts of America but Boyce was concerned that boys who lived on farms and ranches were not being reached. Boyce founded a separate organization called the Lone Scouts of America (LSA). The literature for LSA was a sort of independent study that Lone Scouts used to guide themselves in order to advance and were sometimes able to meet up with other Lone Scouts for activities.

BSALSAlstoday

Another adult picture book also celebrates the Boy Scout Centennial History with fascinating pictures, stories, and facts:

Boy Scouts of America

Other books I checked out were:

The Official Handbook for Boys

Legacy of Honor

In addition to reading about the Boy Scouts, I live with an expert on them. That’s right. I married a Boy Scout. The Mister also worked for the Boy Scouts and did fund raising for them. The plaque on the left was awarded to The Mister’s district for his leadership in fund raising.

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There is Boy Scout memorabilia all over my house.  The Mister was quite excited when he found out that I would be writing about the Boy Scouts and wanted to show off a few items in his collection. The Mister missed being an Eagle Scout by just three badges. His troop disbanded when he was three badges short. He could have been a Lone Scout to earn the last three badges, but he says his parents didn’t push him to pursue them and he was not motivated enough at that point in time to pursue them himself which is something he regrets. Here are some of his badges and other symbols:

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There is also a lot of art work associated with Scouting:

Boy Scouts 001

Because I could never possibly get all the items in the Mister’s collection in just one blog post, he requested to do a Boy Scout display at the Fulton County Public Library to show off some more of his collection.

Since the Dewey Hop blog explores library resources and services as well as items available for check out, this is as good of time as any to introduce another resource – our patrons themselves.  Any patron of the Fulton County Public Library can display things in a display case just by getting on the schedule. Below are a couple of displays relating to seashells and things collected during WWII:

Ship Display

Jewelry 1

Also currently on display are these display cases to honor veterans which were done cooperatively with the Mister and several staff members:

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This is a close up shot of a picture of my Dad back in the day and his medals:

Stanley Cramer, Sr and medals

Unfortunately I couldn’t find more display photos but Fulton County Public Library patrons have created many displays to showcase personal collections, hobbies, and causes. Some of the displays that I remember were displays of items made from toothpicks, homemade dolls, and model ships.

Here is the Boy Scout display currently on view along with a few close ups:

Boy Scout Display Case

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Were you ever a Boy (or Girl) Scout? Do you collect anything you would like to see displayed? Have you ever presented a display?

 

Secret Societies

Secret Society

Secret societies are difficult to write about since they are, afterall, secret. Many things that are known are repeated in the literature–not that a lot of that exists since it is often secret also.  Having said that, it is amazing the amount of literature that is available about secret societies. The first three books about Secret Societies that I checked out contained much of the same information.  Here are the first three books I perused:

Secret Societies Sylvia Brown

 

Secret Societies A History Arkon Daraul

 

The Hidden World of Secret Societies Behind Closed Doors LIFE

Many secret societies began in secret because of beliefs that differed from the mainstream culture. Had certain groups stated publicly what they believed, the members would have likely been killed by their king or other leaders. Being secretive was about self preservation. This was particularly true of groups with occultic connections. Not all secret societies had occultic connections. For example early Christians were considered a dangerous sect by both the Jews and the Romans. This forced many churches literally underground. Many secret societies have origins dating back to ancient Egypt and some claim to date back much further.

In Secret Societies: and How They Affect Our Lives Today, Sylvia Browne divides these groups into the broad categories of political societies, religious societies, and the dark side of secrecy. Browne also says that secret societies have the following in common:

The Oath of Secrecy: Sometimes under penalty of death or excommunication, members not only pledge to keep all the secrets within the society, but often vow to give away money or other personal possessions.

The Oath Against Division: Members promise not to deviate from the group’s teachings or start their own organization based upon the one to which they’ve given the oath. They also vow to always work for the betterment of the society and not for themselves.

The Oath of Absolute Obedience: Members pledge to absolutely obey the rules and order of the society. They must also pay homage to their headmaster or founder and often (but not always) follow the laws of the land.

The Oath of Honesty: Members swear that they’ll never tell a lie about anyone in the society or about the organization, and they promise to live within the group with honesty and forthrightness.

The Oath of Support: Members vow to give support – morally, spiritually, or even financially – to the society. This can even extend to reporting insidious conduct that would bring harm to associates.

(pp 6-7)

In Secret Societies A History, Arkon Daraul discusses numerous secret societies from all over the world. The author attempts to explore the beginnings of each group. The author also points out that many of these groups are suspicious of others. According to Daraul some Arabs are suspicious of Jews who they consider to be a suspicious and dangerous secret society bent on taking over the world. The author also believes that Freemasons and Catholics eye each other with similar suspicions. In short, it’s about perspective.

The Hidden World of Secret Societies: An Illustrated History of the Most Mysterious Organizations published by Life Books is a fascinating adult picture book with interesting comments on several known secret societies.

The best known secret societies are: The Illuminati, The Freemasons, The Bohemian Grove, The Opus Dei, The Ku Klux Klan, The Black Hand, The Knights Templar, The Bilderberg Group, The Anunnaki, and Anonymous. For a brief description of each of these groups, follow this link:  Ten Secret Societies.

In Sacred Secrets: Freemasonry, the Bible, and the Christian Faith by Mike Neville the author attempts to explain many of the Freemasonry practices and rituals. Being Christian myself, I was rather fascinated with this book. The little that I know about Freemasonry is not compatible with my beliefs. There are some professing Christians who are also Freemasons and I’ve always wondered how they reconciled the two belief systems. In addition I’ve always wondered about the Freemasons and the Bible.

Sacred Secrets

Of all the groups that I read about, Freemasons are probably the least secretive group. A Freemason is allowed to tell anyone that he is a Freemason. In addition, a Freemason may tell you what degree Mason he is and may even tell you about some lodge meetings. Of the known Freemasons that I’ve met, most appear to be good people. One thing I have learned though is that in Freemasonry nothing seems to be what it appears to be. I am not insinuating that all Freemasons are bad people. I mean quite the opposite, actually. I think very good people get involved in Freemasonry and perhaps not all of them are fully aware of hidden agendas which may not be revealed unless they go further into the organization. I base this idea on the fact that I have known of Freemasons who tried to get out of the organization and met with or feared a lot of oppression and even violence.

Bearing in mind that I’m writing about a secretive group I can not guarantee 100% accuracy in my information. However, from many things I’ve read and watched in documentaries, You Tube, etc. I’ve attempted to assimilate information for this post.

Freemasonry dates back at least to ancient Egypt and some think that it even predates that time period, possibly to creation. Some believe that the aprons worn by Masons are symbolic of a fig leaf worn by Adam after he (and his wife, Eve) ate forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, Freemasons may talk about the Tree of Life and The Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some gather from this that there is “secret (and/or evil) knowledge” which may or may not have connections to the occult.

Freemasons use a King James Bible in their rituals. Masons do not accept the inerrancy of the Bible nor do they think it is a reliable historical document. Of the rituals I’ve come across there are 18 that any Mason may choose to complete. There are also 4 special titles or degrees which only Christians can pursue. Each ritual is associated with Bible stories, characters, or the most important building to a Mason, Solomon’s Temple.

Indeed the buildings that the Freemasons meet in seem to be modeled after Solomon’s Temple in dimension and arrangement of the interior. Though the more modern verbiage seems to be to call their buildings a “lodge” most were built being called a Temple. One can still hear some of the buildings being called Masonic Temples.

This is the Masonic Temple (or Lodge) in Rochester, Indiana.

Masonic Temple Rochester

The front entrance of this building calls itself a “Masonic Lodge.” However on concrete slabs embedded in the building, it is called a “Masonic Temple.”

Masonic Things 009

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Since we are talking about the actual buildings, here is one last image of the building in Rochester, Indiana.  Note that where windows should be, they are bricked up. All Masonic Temples, or lodges, either do not have windows or they are completely covered. No outside light is allowed inside the building with the possible exception of near the front door(s) where there may be a small vestibule. However, in the building proper there will be no outside light. Masonic Things 012

As far as I can tell there are three titles or degrees made up of various rituals (all associated with the Bible). Within each title or degree is a course of study. All Masons enter the Craft as Third Degree (Craft) Masons. As a Third Degree Mason a member, or brother, may choose to do nothing else and remain a Third Degree Mason or he may choose to further his study and move up in the organization.

Within each title or degree are 33 (a significant number) steps with 33 being the highest number to be achieved. Therefore it is possible to be a 33rd Degree Mason in one degree but not another. High status in one degree does not transfer to other degrees. If a Mason would want to be a 33rd degree across the board he would have to complete all of the necessary study for each title or degree.

Additionally there appear to be some blood curdling oaths taken with many (if not all) of the degrees. These oaths are mostly secret but basically seem to be the Mason saying, “May all of  <these terrible things> happen to me if I break my oath or reveal secrets” (highly and liberally paraphrased).

Structure of Masonry

Being Christian is not a prerequisite for being a Mason. Most modern day Masons are not Christian. Not long after the King James Bible was printed on the printing press it was adopted by the Masons for ritualistic use. Up until the 11th century Freemasonry was more “Christianized.” In the 11th century the Masons attempted to “deChristianize” in order to attract a broader range of people. The word “God” was changed to “Supreme Being” among other similar such changes. To become a Mason one has to believe in a Supreme Being of some sort. This appears to be a central idea since Freemasons will often refer to the “Grand Architect of the Universe.”  Masons are builders and their logo shows the tools of the trade, or Craft.  The lodge, or temple,  will feature an open King James Bible with a compass and a builder’s square laid on top of it.

plumblodgebible

Approximately 2 years ago, a Masonic Bible was donated to the Fulton County Public Library.

Masonic Bible Donation

It is in a display case in the Indiana Room. It is currently opened to a two page illustration of David and Goliath. Masonic Bible 2

Underneath it is Masonic literature that speaks of shaping the world.

Masonic David and Goliath

Because Masons were craftsmen and free to wander around seeking work  it wasn’t long until the word “free” became associated with “mason” and “masonry” giving us the compound words “Freemason” and “Freemasonry.”

freemasonswiki

In the image above, we see the all seeing eye, a compass, a builder’s square, and the letter G. The letter G seems to be somewhat of a mystery. Some think it refers to the Grand Architect of the Universe. It may or may not be a reference to God or the “Sun god.” In Freemasonry, there is a lot of talk about the sun and the moon. The sun is the “greater light” to rule the day and the moon is the “lesser light” to rule the night.  This wording is taken directly from the book of Genesis. In a lot of Masonic art you will see the G on an image of the sun or a sun disc so it could also be marking the “Greater light.” There is also speculation (and I tend to agree with this) that the letter G changes meanings for the various degrees the Mason has completed. Whatever the meaning of the letter G, it is often seen in artwork associated with Freemasonry.

washington_freemason

The artwork above is loaded with meaningful Masonic imagery. Nothing is unimportant. Unfortunately one blog post won’t allow me to comment on this painting in depth. Imagery seen here is repeated in multiple architectural sites throughout the world. Many of our government buildings in the US are loaded with Masonic imagery.

At the courthouse in Rochester, Indiana there is an embedded concrete slab placed there by the Freemasons. You can make out the date 1895 at the top in a triangle. (Triangles have significance to Freemasons.) Underneath is a slab with Masonic information. The information on the slab is legible if you were actually standing there, but the photo isn’t great since I was aiming the camera way above my head. It was difficult for me to get everything in view. Due to the lighting I couldn’t see where I was aiming. I did however want to make sure I got the 1895 date shown.

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Exactly 100 years later, the Freemasons left a centennial and rededication cube. (Cubes are also very important to Freemasons.) It is located at the same corner as the original stone slab. This stone is engraved on three (another significant number) sides.

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Look around any building or organization pertaining to government and you will find evidence of Freemason involvement. Many things I read suggested that the ultimate goal of Freemasonry is to control the world through government and commerce. Some have even suggested that Freemasonry will lead to the One World Order predicted in the book of Revelation.

Several US Presidents and other political and religious figures are associated with Freemasonry and were sworn in on Masonic Bibles.  Some of the Presidents are pictured below.

Freemason Presidents

Freemasonry has influenced almost every area of life. There are ciphers which the brothers learn to decode messages at times. Some “messages” are encoded in architecture, music, art, literature, money, etc. Geometry and numerology is of extreme importance to the craft. Since one blog post won’t allow me to go in to all of this about “hidden knowledge,” I will encourage those interested to follow my link (you will need to scroll down for the video) about secrets in plain site for an in depth explanation. The You Tube presentation is very long and about the first third of it is laying ground work important to understanding symbolism for the rest of the presentation. Secrets in Plain Site. If you stick with it, you will uncover some very little known information. This presentation will cover topics I can’t fit in in one post.

In the DVD series, Cities of the Underworld secret societies are sometimes discussed. Among them in season one are the Christians, Cult of the Dead, Freemasons, and Mithraism. If you have an interest in preserved ancient history, this is must see viewing. If you are a Christian, you will absolutely want to watch this episode (Secret Pagan Underground) in which the first ever Christian monastery, Christian school, and Christian cathedral like structure has just been discovered. You will also learn the extent that Christians went to to protect themselves (and thus the Gospel). Also, if you are interested in the Freemasons you will want to watch the episode specifically about them. Information is revealed linking Freemasons to the Underground Railroad among other things. I found both episodes fascinating.

cities of the underworld

Is there a Masonic Lodge near where you live? Have you noticed Masonic symbols in public (particularly governmental) buildings? Where you aware that the Christian underground world was so extensive?

Addendum to Secret Societies:

N.G. Secret Societies 1

Although I had no way of knowing this would happen, almost the same day that Secret Societies posted on Dewey Hop, National Geographic released a special edition paperback book about Secret Societies. I have skimmed through this book (and intend to read it) but wanted to let everyone know that if you are interested in this topic, you really should take a look at this book. It has many different secret societies in it and has several pages in it about the Freemasons.

Also at the same time the library added this DVD which you may want to check out.

Knights Templar

 

Prisons

Prison

No Criminology section of a library would be complete without also taking a look at prisons designed to keep  bad guys (or bad girls) off the streets.  Prisons have varying levels of security depending on the nature of crimes committed. Most of us are aware that our penal system is flawed.  In Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman,  the author comments on her experiences and observations during her year of incarceration in a women’s prison.

Orange_Is_the_New_Black_book_cover

Kerman comments on the system being punitive and not rehabilitative. There is a sort of economy system and culture within the walls of the prison, neither of which do anything to prepare offenders to reenter society and thus contributes to the recidivism rate. Often relatives such as sisters or mothers / daughters spend much of their lives in and out of prison. The author comments on the generational aspects of incarcerated families. It’s what they know.

Although this isn’t typically the type of book I would just pick up and read, I did find it interesting to read about what a woman’s prison is like from an insider’s perspective. Also interesting is the way in which Kerman describes her fellow inmates as people just trying to maintain some human dignity in the face of an uncaring and punitive system. One thing the author makes crystal clear is the need for more rehabilitative and educational programming on the inside.

There is a DVD series Orange is the New Black.

DVD Orange is the New Black

This series was originally created in 2013 and streamed by Netflix users and is now available to the public as a DVD series with several seasons.

The next book I came to in my read through of the Fulton County Public Library  is The Punishment Imperative by Todd R. Clear and Natasha A. Frost.

The Punishment Imperative

This book basically echoes Piper Kerman’s ideas that our penal system is in need of some major and rehabilitative changes. Where Kerman’s book reads easily and delivers ideas in an engaging and entertaining fashion, this book reads like a college term paper and throws a lot of facts at the reader without necessarily engaging the reader. The thesis of the book is located on p.16 and reads:

This book is about an American idea that took root in the 1970’s, rose to dominate discourse and practice through the 1980’s and 1990’s and has, as we enter the second decade of the new century, shows distinct signs of having run its course.

The rest of the paragraph goes on to explain that the authors regard our current penal system as a “grand social experiment in punishment.” The rest of the book discusses the consequences of our current system and attempts to explain the high rate of recidivism.

Perhaps of more interest to me was the next book Prison Profiles by Mary Knochel, Ph.D. and Rafael Ramirez, J.D.  These authors are fellow Hoosiers writing about different types of incarceration in my home state of Indiana.

Prison Profiles

I found this book highly informative and interesting. This book follows fictional characters through the Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) beginning from the time they arrive in the sally-port of the DOC. All of the characters are actually composites of  male inmates with actual details of their crimes and incarcerations. One character, Clarence Speakman, is totally fictional but is used to describe the role a Classification Specialist within the Department of Corrections. Classification Specialists are the only DOC employees who actually interact with both prisoners and paperwork. All other employees of the DOC deal only with prisoners or paperwork.

The men arriving in the sally-port are all wearing jeans and T-shirts. Each has a brown paper bag containing personal possessions. They are all in full restraints which consist of handcuffs, leg shackles, and waist chains. The list of prisoners on the transport is compared to the abstract of judgement which is paperwork that confirms that these prisoners are supposed to be arriving at the Reception and Diagnostic Center.Once confirmation has occurred, the men are allowed to exit the transport. Once the men enter the building their paper bags are collected by an officer who begins to catalog each bag’s contents and label who the items belong to. At this time, the officer also decides what is contraband and must be mailed to a relative and what the prisoner is allowed to keep. Shortly after the prisoners arrival, a second van arrives which contains boxes of paperwork. The prisoner’s “packet” of paperwork will follow each man throughout his stay in the DOC. From this moment onward, the goal at the Reception and Diagnostic Center is to decide where and how each prisoner will do time.  This procedure is called the classification process and takes anywhere from 30-45 days to complete. Once the classification process begins the prisoners are considered to officially be in the custody of the DOC.  Although there are more than 20 prisons for men in Indiana, every man begins his journey through the system at the Reception and Diagnostic Center in Plainfield, Indiana. The only exception to going to the Reception and Diagnostic Center is if an inmate has been sentenced to death. In that case, he is taken directly to death row (also called x-row)  at the Indiana State Prison.

Reception and Diagnostic Center Reception and Diagnostic Center 2

 

 

 

 

Every man entering the Indiana DOC does so naked with fellow new arrivals. They are taken to a “strip area” and told to strip.  After stripping they are then strip searched and showered. At this point each man is given a towel to wrap around himself while he waits for his turn to be “de-loused.”  The men work in pairs and spray each other with a fumigant before finally being issued prison clothing. At the Reception and Diagnostic center inmates wear tan t-shirts, undewear, blue scrub pants, socks, and sandals.

The next step is a quick medical evaluation by a nurse where standard vitals are gathered: height, weight, and blood pressure. Inmates are questioned about medications in an effort to avoid missing scheduled dosages of any prescribed meds they may take. Those inmates who are in good health will be seen by a doctor within 48 hours. Inmates with more serious issues will be seen sooner than 48 hours.

After their medical intake, inmates are sent to an inmate barber. The new arrivals have 2 style choices: above the collar and above the ears or a burr.  With haircuts done, it’s on to fingerprinting and being photographed for the official prison ID. At this point, inmates are given back their paper bags with any possessions they are allowed to keep during their incarceration. Any items deemed to be contraband will be mailed to the inmate’s relatives. If an inmate has $30 or more in his prison account, the inmate will have to pay the postage to mail the item(s) to relatives. If the inmate does not have $30 in his account, the DOC will pay this expense.

Once the entire group of incoming prisoners has completed all of the above steps they are taken to a Count Officer to be assigned a bunk in the Admitting and Orientation Section (A&O). Elderly and sickly patients are assigned to bottom bunks but all other bunk assignments are random depending on where there is an available bed. There are a few permanent residents of this section. They are prisoners with medical conditions requiring daily dialysis. These prisoners are housed here to facilitate treatment. Permanent residents of this section have cardboard boxes for their possessions and temporary residents keep their paper bags.

Prisoners are escorted between their temporary cells and the dining hall for meals. After dinner on the arrival day inmates are required to attend an orientation class where they will be told about procedures and will be given a rule book. When finished with the orientation the prisoners are transferred to a pod where they will remain for the rest of their stay at the Reception and Diagnostic Center.

At this point the classification process begins in earnest. Inmates days will now be filled with medical, dental, and psychological examinations. If an inmate is illiterate, he will be administered an oral Beta IQ test. Only those offenders with low literacy skills have their IQ tested routinely by the RDC staff.  Some inmates may have taken an IQ test during the Pre-Sentencing Investigation (PSI). Prisoners may refuse to undergo any type of testing although most do not refuse since it gives them something to do. Once tested, certain personality profiles indicate the need for psychological interviews. All inmates who reveal tendencies toward substance abuse, sexual deviance, or violent behavior will be seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

immate testing

All inmates will be seen by a Classification Specialist. The Classification Specialists use a point system that will determine what an individual inmate’s security level will be and where they will be housed during the incarceration. Points are assigned based upon such things as the severity of the current offense, severity of any prior convictions, bodily injury in prior convictions, and parole violations. There are 5 Security Levels which are earned by having a score as follows:

0-9 Level One – Facilities have a defined boundary but no fences, open dorms, and minimal staff supervision.

10-17 Level Two– Facilities have single or double fences with single razor ribbon, some towers, single housing or multiple dorms, direct and indirect staff observation

18-22 Level Three-Facilities have a single fence with double razor ribbons or double fences with single razor ribbons, manned towers and/or perimeter detection devices, secure single housing and/or multiple dorms, and close staff observation

23-37 Level Four-Facilities have walls or double fences with razor ribbon, many manned towers, perimeter detection devices, and constant direct staff supervision

Level Five– No inmate in Indiana is ever sent directly to this level. This level is popularly called Super Max and is reserved for inmates who commit offenses within the prison system.

Once an inmate is scored in this way, behavioral considerations are taken into account and may change the score. For instance if the prisoner has been involved with drugs and alcohol in an illegal manner he may score another 5 points. Other things are also taken into consideration such as if there were infractions or escape attempts during a previous incarceration. The Classification Specialist may then make certain recommendations. For instance if the offense(s) are alcohol related it may be recommended that the inmate should complete a rehabilitation program before becoming eligible for work release programs. Medical needs and educational levels of each inmate are also reviewed before assigning an inmate to a particular prison.

The remainder of the book follows the six inmates through their prison assignments and describes how their environments and experiences may vary for each. Pursuit of educational programs, work and work release programs, recreational activities, and whether or not they took advantage of things like drug and alcohol rehabilitation opportunities.

In addition to all of the above things, this book also describes the history of the prison system in Indiana and comments in depth about the way in which the Indiana DOC has always stressed rehabilitation over punishment. This book is an older book and some of our current prisons were actually being built at the time it was written. Overcrowding wasn’t such an issue at the time of this book. The idea of the Reception and Diagnostic Center is to find out the needs of the inmates and then assign them to the facility best suited to deal with the need. For instance young offenders may need to complete high school. They may be sent to the Plainfield facility where there is an actual high school for the inmates. Some inmates may possess skills such as carpentry and may be sent to a facility where they will be able to work making furniture–which is then sold in the community. As much as possible all inmates will still be able to achieve educational goals and be productive members of society even behind bars. This is part of the rehabilitative mind set in Indiana. Even prisoners need to feel useful. As much as possible it is stressed that inmates can still positively contribute to society. For instance inmates can participate in the Locks of Love program.

Unfortunately prison conditions have changed. Overcrowding has many drawbacks. While prisoners may be recommended for certain facilities, placement ultimately now comes down to the luck of the draw and where there is an available bed with that inmate’s security level. Some other factors may affect a prisoner’s placement as well. For instance if there are known gang rivalries or “separatees” (a person or persons who it would be dangerous for a given inmate to be around) an inmate may be assigned to an other than first choice placement.

Do you believe prisons should be more punitive than rehabilitative? Do you know anyone currently in prison? Do you have recommendations to improve the system?

 

 

 

 

 

Future Crimes & Rogue Justice

Postcard_front

In 2002 Tom Cruise starred in the movie Minority Report, a Stephen Spielberg directed film.

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Minority Report is a futuristic tale based on a Phillip Dick story with the same title. The plot is about crime fighting in the year 2052. More specifically,  fighting crime in 2052 seeks to prevent crimes before they happen. Cruise’s character is the head of the Precrime Unit and is himself accused of a future crime. The Precrime Unit is connected to “precogs” who have psychic ability and are a component of the actual computer system.  Crime details are reported and the Precrime Unit goes to arrest the accused, thereby preventing the crime. This movie raises important ethical questions such as: Is a person guilty of a crime they haven’t yet committed? If the future is known but can be changed, where does a person’s freewill  fit into a predetermined outcome?

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In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman the author explains everyone’s vulnerability through all of our interconnected devices. Many (though not all) of these future crimes deal with Identity Theft. Goodman discusses crimes such as murder that can be committed remotely. For instance, sending a lethal jolt of electricity through a pacemaker could kill. More and more our reliance on technology and the way those technologies rely on each other makes all of us vulnerable to new and appalling crimes.

Criminals have proven time and again that they are early adopters of technology. This proves to be challenging for law enforcement agencies who tend not to be first adopters. Criminals have created a significant gap between themselves and law enforcement officials. Only in recent years have the “good guys” realized that they need to narrow the gap, but at what cost? Is privacy a thing of the past? Technology is a two edged sword.

If you think that a world similar to the 2052 Precrime Unit is only fiction and will never happen, think again. It’s already here.  Though the details and technology may be somewhat different than the movie depictions of these events, predicting crimes before they happen is happening today in China. Predict Crimes Before They Happen. People are tracked by surveillance and more or less assigned points based on their activities. The higher one’s points the more suspicious one is considered. For instance if you shop for kitchen utensils (such as knives) and later shop for tools (Such as a hammer or an axe) you might be considered suspicious. Similarly patterns of behavior are tracked to determine if one is a thief or other type of criminal. Needless to say this raises all sorts of ethical questions about everything from privacy to when law enforcement should intervene. Is this sort of surveillance profiling even legal or moral? The questions are endless.

This type of Precrime activity has been in the US since at least 2010. In Indiana when you get your driver’s license picture taken, you have to pose for a facial recognition photo. You are not allowed to smile, there can be no bangs on your forehead, and you must remove your glasses. These are just some of the facial recognition points that are used by facial recognition software.

Facial Net

The next image is information released by Homeland Security.

FAST Vision

Those “non-intrusive sensors” and “prototype system” could look like this:

FB Facial Recognition

Crowd Face Nets

facere

You are on camera almost everywhere you go. Any time you are in public (and sometimes even when you aren’t such as when you are on the internet at home) information is being gathered about you. Your shopping habits, work habits, daily schedule, etc. is all being tracked. This kind of technology can be used for very good purposes or for very bad purposes.

 

Rogue Justice

In Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State,  Karen Greenberg talks about how our  American liberties have been compromised and our laws weakened in the aftermath of 9/11 and the War on Terror. Spying on American citizens by our own government has become commonplace. Situations such as illegal and indefinite detentions have become the norm in certain situations and the use of torture by some government entities is either condoned or completely ignored all in the name of national security. Greenberg, who is a top expert on Guantanomo, torture, and terrorism makes the point that justice suffers when our reported beliefs about liberty clash with matters of national security. This is a book that will make the reader think and question some of our currently accepted protocols.

Where you aware that facial recognition is already being used to track you and your movements? Do you see other parallels between the Precrime Unit in 2052 and our current world?

 

Pirates

Psychopaths and Priates

When the majority of us think about pirates, we are likely to think about men with a patch over one eye, strange clothes, a hook in place of one hand, and a sword in the other hand. Sometimes pirates are portrayed with a wooden leg or a crutch and with a parrot on one shoulder. Classic Pirate

Most of us will never encounter a real pirate (thankfully). Our pirate run ins are likely to be at costume parties and all in good fun.

Hollywood has included and glamorized pirates in movies such as Pirates of the Carribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,

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Treasure Island: Pirates’ Plunder, 

Treasure Island

and Peter Pan just to mention a few movies involving pirates.

Peter Pan

A few myths about pirates are:

They buried treasure to find later. While this may have happened on rare occasions, the majority of pirates weren’t future planners. They were in a very dangerous profession and many didn’t expect to live long enough to have to worry about the future.

They made their victims “walk the plank.” There is no evidence of this ever happening. If a pirate was going to execute a prisoner, they would likely just stab the victim. There is some evidence that pirates tied their victims with ropes and dragged them behind their ships. If the ship was moving quickly, the victims were caught up in debris which might cause serious wounds (and thus attract sharks). If the ship moved slowly, the victims would likely drown eventually.

Pirates said “Arrr.” This sound is more of a Hollywood invention.

A few pirate jokes (Answers at the end of the post):

What is a pirate’s favorite restraunt?

What is a pirate’s favorite store?

Why do pirates wear ear rings?

The truth of the matter is that pirating is serious and often violent crime even in our time. The act of piracy is seizing items that belong to others, usually by force. Both men and women have been known to be pirates, although it’s a male dominated crime.

Modern day pirates look like this:

Nigerian Pirates

Lithuanian Pirates

(The above images are from Somalia and Lithuania although pirating happens all over the world.)

Pirates on the sea today make use of technology and modern day weapons. The weapon of choice is an AK-47. Computer systems and radar as well as two way radios are often part of a pirate’s arsenal. Pirates may use small fishing vessels to try to appear inconspicuous. Often there will be a “mother ship” hiding just out of sight. Small vessels are equipped with weapons, technology, and boarding ladders.

The World Atlas of Pirates: Treasures and Treachery on the Seven Seas – in Maps, Tall Tales, and Pictures by Angus Konstam is a very interesting and informative book.

The World Atlas of Pirates

Although this book deals with piracy all over the world, for purposes of this post I will mostly discuss American piracy.  In order to understand American pirating, though, we need a bit of background about pirating in general.

High seas pirating has probably existed ever since there were ships. However, the hey day of pirating was in the 18th century when many wars were fought at sea.  At that point in time it was sometimes even legal.  If a pirate’s country was at war, it was actually encouraged to attack and plunder enemy ships. Governments couldn’t call this activity “pirating” so they called it “privateering.” To become a privateer all a person needed was a ship and a government permission letter called a “letter of marque.” As long as a ship’s captain had a letter of marque, all attacks on enemy vessels (which loosely translated was any vessel not belonging to the captain’s country or any vessel that fired upon your ship) were perfectly legal. If, however, a ship’s captain was captured and failed to produce a letter of marque, he could be tried and hung as a pirate.

Britain and France used privateers against each other. When American colonists rebelled against the British, the Americans turned Britain’s tactics against them. British ships blockaded the coastline along the colonies and the Americans responded by having purpose built privateering ships built, obtaining letters of marque and then turning these ships against the British.

American privateers had become a serious menace to British ships in American waters by 1775, capturing around 30 ships by the winter of 1776 just off the Boston coast line. However this conflict between the British and the Americans was happening from the New England colonies all the way south to Charleston. By 1777 American privateers had captured over 3,000 British merchant ships. Privately owned American privateering ships had grown to an impressive fleet of 449 vessels by 1781.

A privateer / pirate named John Paul Jones is generally credited with being the founder of the US Navy.  John’s surname was Paul. John  was born in Scottland and at the age of 13 apprenticed aboard the Friendship.  After the Friendship he served on several British merchant ships. He became a captain in 1770 at the age of 23. During a dispute in 1770  John Paul killed a crew member.  At this point in time he fled to America and added the name “Jones” to his full name. When the Americans began to rebel against the British in 1775, John Paul Jones offered his services and was commissioned as an officer into the fledgling US Navy. Jones first served as the second in command on an improvised warship the Alfred which cruised the Delaware River. In 1777 he was put in command of the USS Ranger, an 18 gun brig. The USS Ranger set sail from Portsmith, New Hampshire on the way to France. After just a month at sea the USS Ranger arrived in Quiberon Bay having captured two British ships on the way. In Quiberon Bay, the French gave the first official salute to a ship bearing the brand new American flag. Because of his service, John Paul Jones was considered a hero by the Americans and a pirate by the British.

If a privateer captain could capture a particularly good enemy ship with rich cargo (often called a prize), then his own ship could be paid for with one prize and also enable him to pay his crew. As wars dragged on and more prizes were captured, the privateer captain was able to buy more ships and increase his fleet. Governments were paid 10 percent of a prize and were able to use privateers as cheap and effective resources which generated money for the various governments. During this time period a good yearly salary was around $50. Capturing one good prize might generate $500 for a single privateer for doing just one job. When wars ended, privateers sometimes were tempted to turn to piracy rather than return to lesser paying respectable professions.

Piracy Today: Fighting Villainy on the High Seas by John C. Payne discuses ways in which modern day piracy is being fought. Just like modern day pirates who use modern technology, so too do governments use modern technology to fight piracy.

Piracy Today

One of the most interesting things that I read in this book was that the United States is using drones to effectively bring pirates to justice. Drones can fly over the seas looking for and taking images of suspicious crafts and crews. Of course drones can be spotted so pirates sometimes try to use camouflage or try to outsmart the drones. Some pirates have attempted to move under the cover of darkness in order to avoid being spotted by drones. In one example a drone flew over a pirate ship, taking pictures of the crew and equipment aboard the vessel. Images and radio messages are relayed to US ships in the area. Officials are already on the way to the spotted vessel by the time the pirates realize they are being watched. One pirate crew threw a boarding ladder and other things overboard trying to avoid detection but because the drone had captured images of the crew and cargo, those pirates were picked up and arrested. Moving under cover of darkness does no good since the drones are equipped with night vision.

Did you know the US Navy was started by a pirate? Have you heard about drones being used to fight pirates?

Answers to jokes:

Arrrby’s!

Big Arrrr

Because they are a buck an ear

Psychopaths (& Sociopaths)

ed-gein

Some criminals among us are like chameleons. They are experts at appearing normal at least at first glance. They can be charming, witty, highly intelligent, and attractive. They can be male or female. Most of us have heard of these types of criminals that we categorize as sociopaths and psychopaths. The psychopaths tend to be the more physically violent, but sociopaths can be very psychologically violent. Not all sociopaths and psychopaths end up in jail. Many remain at large in the general population affecting everyone they come in contact with. It is important to be aware of the warning signs.

First, let’s learn who the psychopaths and sociopaths are and how to spot them.

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How to Spot a Sociopath

How to Spot a Psychopath

10-habits-of-highly-psychopathic-people

Some of the most heinous crimes are committed by psychopaths. We have touched on this category before in my posts on PredatorsBad Guys, and True Crime.

Next, let’s look at an example of a known psychopath.

I have mentioned Ed Gein before in the Bad Guys post. Ed Gein was a psychopath who lived in Plainfield, Wisconsin. He was truly the orignal “psycho.” I’ve mentioned the connection between Gein’s crimes and Hollywood movies. Now my library read through has brought me to Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original “Psycho” by Harold Schechter.

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Ed Gein was the child of an alcoholic father and a domineering, self righteous mother.  Ed had one sibling, a brother, who died under questionable circumstances. At the time of his brother’s death, Ed acted strangely. He claimed that he thought his brother was killed from a fire they were trying to put out. Ed claimed he didn’t know where his brother was and rounded up a search party. However, as soon as the search party started to look for the missing brother, Ed led them straight to the body. His brother’s body had mysterious bruising about the head area. There were no burn marks or singeing of his body or clothing. Foul play was briefly suspected. It was known that Ed had been upset when his brother implied a slight criticism of their mother, but even law enforcement could not believe that Ed would harm his brother. The death was ruled accidental. Since Ed’s father had died four years previously Ed now had his mother all to himself.

Ed seemed inappropriately connected to his mother. She was his life and his inspiration. His mother’s approval was all that ever mattered to him. Ed’s mother had isolated her family in the country to avoid having to interact with the town’s people of Plainfield, who she believed were all evil. No one was good enough and she encouraged both of her sons to never marry or even interact with anyone unless absolutely necessary. Trips to town were only made when absolutely necessary. When Ed was old enough to drive, his mother would send him to town for the occasional necessities. However, she would constantly warn him about individual people in the town. Anyone Ed may have happened to mention would be an evil person whose sins were known and recited by his mother. Ed never questioned his mother’s omniscience. To Ed, his mother was at least equal to God. Ed’s faith in his mother was slightly shaken when she said she was so ill that he would have to take her to the hospital. Ed had a hard time believing that his mother needed help from anyone. After she suffered a stroke, Ed kept vigil at his mother’s hospital bedside. After her release from the hospital, Ed had to carry his mother into their house and then he nursed her back to health. When she was back on her feet, Ed was elated though somewhat disgruntled because his mother never once thanked him for taking care of her even though she was completely reliant upon him. When Ed’s mother had a second stroke and then died, Ed was very distraught.

From all outside appearances, Ed Gein appeared to be a quiet middle aged man. He helped his neighbors with anything he could and would sometimes hire on for odd jobs. Ed also became a somewhat popular babysitter. He was considered a very good and reliable worker. However, because Ed was different he was the brunt of pranks and often bullied and teased. He retreated inside himself holding in a lot of resentments towards his neighbors who he believed mistreated him and cheated him out of his pay.

Ed’s mostly pornographic reading material was focused on such things as tortures in Nazi prison camps, grave robbing, head shrinking, cannibalism, and various ways that the human body could be used to make household items and even musical instruments.

Eddie Gein killed two women, both of whom reminded him of his mother. Other victims are suspected but it was never proven that he killed more than two people. It was also never proven that Gein never killed men. (He was suspected in a least two murders of men.) It was proven that he dug up the remains of some of his victims from local cemeteries and perpetrated atrocities on the corpses.

The remainder of the book goes on to explain Eddie’s journey through the court system and mental health hospitals, as well as how the town’s people of Plainfield, Wisconsin dealt with the aftermath of Eddie’s crimes. Since I don’t want to spoil the book for those who may want to read it, I won’t say anything about the findings of the courts or the mental health system.

I would recommend this book to those interested in this true crime story. The author does a fantastic job of following Eddie through his life from his birth to his death. Harold Schechter keeps his tone conversational while clearly explaining what drove Eddie to commit the heinous crimes he committed. He also does a great job of following up the aftermath of Eddie’s crime spree. The reader will come away with a deep understanding of exactly what happened and why. The book itself is not scary, but it does have some rather gross descriptions in it that are definitely not for the squeamish! To me, the story is more sad than scary.

Due to the length of this post, I won’t comment in depth about the next book I came to, which is also by Harold Schechter. Psycho U S A: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of is a book which seeks to document psychopathic crime from almost the birth of the US.

Psycho U S A

Schechter identifies time periods from 1782 through 1961 when such crimes were not so widely publicized. Time frames and categories covered in this interesting book are:

  1. Fiends of the Early Republic 1782-1826
  2. Antebellum Maniacs 1840-1860
  3. Post Civil War Monsters 1866-1880
  4. Turn of the Century Psychos 1892-1896
  5. A Year of Horror 1927
  6. Demons of the Depression (Exact dates not given. Approximate dates 1928-1940)
  7. Soldier, Sailor, Serial Killer 1941-1961

There are very interesting articles in this book describing how certain stories have entered into American folklore. This book is worth the reader’s time.

Have you seen any of the movies based on Eddie Gein? Have you ever met someone with a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

 

Famous Historical Crimes

Famous Crimes

Some crimes are historically famous. Here are a few examples all from the 1930’s.

Famous Criminals

Although the above examples are all from the 1930’s, every decade seems to have its notorious criminals. I have perused books in the Fulton County Public Library about all of the criminals mentioned above – and many, many more.

Since time and one blog post will not allow me to comment on all notorious criminals, I’ve decided to comment on just one very famous case; Jack the Ripper. Although the Ripper’s crimes were committed in London, this case has world wide recognition and following. Many Americans have shown great interest in the case since the 1880’s when the crimes occurred. Jack the Ripper has been the subject of fiction and nonfiction books, movies, radio and television shows, stage plays, newspapers, magazines, photographs, and works of art. The Ripper’s story is on the world wide web and in the files of many police officers and detectives. There are even tours to learn about the Ripper’s crime spree (Scroll down the linked page to the second video to watch a 2 minute video about a very popular tour). This crime is retold in every medium imaginable.

One of the reasons I chose to write about this case is because it covers most of the areas of Criminology I’ve already written about. It is an obvious True Crime story. There have been many people accused of this heinous crime spree as well as many false confessions, making it a Falsie. The case was an Unsolved Crime for approximately 130 years which made it a famous historical crime.

JTR Ghastly Murder

The Ripper was active in the “East-End” of London in an area known as Whitechapel. He would strike at night. His targets were always female prostitutes who roamed the poverty stricken areas of London’s east side. The Ripper usually cut the throats of his victims and then performed horrid mutilations of his victims. Some of the victims had organs removed.  This is how the killer got his nickname. There are actual photographs but they are much too graphic to be shown in this post.  Because of the mutilations and a knowledge of anatomy, many believed that Jack the Ripper had medical training.

George Lusk, who was part of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received a letter containing part of a preserved human kidney. The letter has become known as the “From Hell” letter. The image below is of a photograph taken of the letter before evidence went missing. The letter was postmarked “15 October 1888.”

220px-FromHellLetter

The letter reads:

“From hell

Mr Lusk
Sor
I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother pirce I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.

signed Catch me when

you Can

Mishter Lusk.”

Jack the Ripper had 5 known victims, but some believe these were not his only victims and that the true number may have been 11 or higher. The 5 known victims are now referred to as the “Canonical Five.”

canoniacal five

Later, Johnny Depp  and Heather Graham would star in the movie From Hell which took it’s title from the Ripper’s letter. From Hell is, of course, the story of Jack the Ripper and his five known victims.

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Here are some of the books I checked out:

JTR Uncensored Facts
The Complete JTR A to ZJTR Secret Confession

Naming Jack the Ripper

In Naming Jack the Ripper Russell Edwards claims to have discovered the identity of Jack the Ripper by using a shawl of one of the Ripper victims, Catherine Eddowes. Catherine was the Ripper’s fourth victim. The author of this book explains how he traced a shawl belonging to Catherine, bought it at an auction, and was able to have blood on it tested for DNA. Modern technology has helped to unmask Jack the Ripper. This is a very interesting story which not only tells the story of Jack the Ripper in an engaging way, but which also follows the investigative process of the shawl itself to reveal the identity of the killer.

Spoiler Alert: If interested in learning more about the shawl you can follow my link, however the killer is also revealed. If you would prefer to follow the story and then find out, I suggest the above book. Shawl and Identity of the Killer.  There are also some interesting docudramas about the Ripper  (not scary) on this site. There is some criticism of the Russell Edwards findings, but the DNA evidence seems pretty strong.

Were you aware that Jack the Ripper had been named? Is this a story you have followed? Are you more curious now about Jack the Ripper?

 

Unsolved Crimes

Unsolved

Unsolved crimes may remain open cases for years before being solved. If this happens they may also be referred to as cold cases.  These crimes may be really old (decades or centuries) or they may be contemporary to our time period. One such contemporary case is the unsolved murder of a little six year old girl named JonBenet Ramsey.

Death of a Little PrincessWho Killed JonBenet Ramsey

Both of the books shown above chronicle the details of JonBenet’s death and the subsequent police investigation. JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado on Christmas night in 1996. JonBenet had been strangled. JonBenet’s body had been moved twice before investigators got to it, potentially destroying information and evidence. Initially investigators focused on family members. Police suspected Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother and Burke Ramsey, JonBenet’s 9 year old brother even though police said that Burke was not a suspect.

From the very beginning there were many conflicting pieces of evidence in the investigation of JonBenet’s murder. For instance there was a ransom note found as one might expect in a kidnapping case, but JonBenet wasn’t taken from the home. The note referred to John Ramsey’s business dealings and the note was written in the house with materials found inside of the home. The note suggested possible disgruntled business associates, but it had information in it that only the Ramsey’s should have known. Kidnappers who leave notes generally already have their notes prepared and won’t risk getting caught writing a note in the home of their victim. The evening of JonBenet’s murder the only known people in the home were the Ramsey’s themselves.

Two basic theories evolved:

  1. The Ramseys killed JonBenet. Police suspected that John and Patsy Ramsey worked together to try to cover up the murder. Were they protecting their other child, Burke? Did Patsy Ramsey kill JonBenet in a fit of rage and then John Ramsey tried to protect Patsy? Some evidence seemed to suggest one of these two scenarios may be true.
  2. An intruder killed JonBenet. Other evidence at the scene may have indicated an intruder. There was a broken window with a suitcase below it where an intruder may have entered (or exited) the home. A ransom note was left. JonBenet was somewhat of a public figure due to the beauty contests her mother entered her in and it was theorized that a pedophile may have been obsessed with JonBenet.

Although in the beginning of the investigation police focused almost exclusively on John and Patsy Ramsey, by 1997 there were over 1,600 suspects. In 2016 with improved DNA testing, the original DNA sample indicated that there were genetic markers for two people other than the victim.  At least one of the genetic markers indicates an unknown male. There are 437 items of evidence pointing away from the Ramsey’s yet police investigators at the time continued to believe the Ramsey’s were guilty. They seemed to ignore evidence of an intruder choosing to believe that the Ramsey’s staged evidence to suggest an intruder and cover up their crime.

Regardless of which theory one ascribes to, the murder of JonBenet Ramsey remains frustratingly unsolved. The murder investigation was reopened in 2010 and in 2016 the Boulder police department reported that the murder of JonBenet continues to be an active homicide case.

Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006 still not knowing who killed her daughter. Patsy was buried next to JonBenet.

There are many other unsolved mysteries and/or crimes. I read about several in the following books:

Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries

More of Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries

There is compelling evidence linking some of Hollywood’s most famous deaths to people like the Kennedy’s and organizations like the CIA. In many of these cases there seems to be a common thread about people who knew too much and threatened to reveal what they knew. There are far more stories than I can cover in one post but if you like to try to solve mysteries yourself, you may want to check out unsolved crimes and become an amateur sleuth!

Do you have an opinion about  the JonBenet Ramsey case? Do you believe Elvis Presley is still alive? Have you heard of the connection between Marilyn Monroe’s death and the Kennedy’s?