News round-up

A few more items that caught my eye in the last couple of weeks:

CORRUPTION: Find out what the Enron jurors thought about the case on NPR’s Morning Edition (26 May),

INVESTIGATIONS: In an attempt to leverage the public in fighting crime, Boston City police are to send residents electronic crime alerts (Boston Globe, 2 June) when crimes occur in their neighborhoods:

The system, run by the Boston police and the Internet company CitizenObserver.com, is meant to disseminate crucial information about crimes — including times, locations, descriptions of suspects, and photographs — into the hands of those most affected and those in the best position to help police find suspects.

INVESTIGATIONS: Teens’ online postings are new tool for police, says the Boston Globe (15 May):

MySpace and its cousins, Xanga and Facebook, have, in little more than two years, attracted more than 100 million users, most of them young people creating their own pages to show off to friends. Law enforcement officials, however, have another use for them: They are fast becoming a crucial source of evidence in crimes involving young people ranging from pornography to drugs to terrorist threats.

JUVENILE OFFENDING/AGGRESSION (1): A thoughtful article in Science News (27 May; Vol. 169, No. 21, p.328) discusses how violent and aggressive behaviour develops, touching on psychology, neuroscience and genetics.

JUVENILE OFFENDING/AGGRESSION (2): An article from the New York Times (28 May) on helping children with antisocial behaviour:

Stark County in Ohio is trying something different. Towell was part of a team using an innovative antiviolence program called multisystemic therapy, or MST. Developed over the last 30 years by Scott Henggeler, a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, it is based on the assumptions that families should remain together and that all of the causes of antisocial behavior should be attacked at once. Taking his cues from family therapy as well as from social ecology, which emphasizes that behavior is shaped by multiple aspects of the environment, Henggeler studies the ecosystem composed by family, neighborhood, schools, peer groups and the broader community. Instead of removing children from that ecosystem, he tries to change it: solve the drug problems and the legal problems, get kids away from delinquent peers and encourage academic success.

PRISON: The UK prison service is fatally flawed, according to Lord Chief Justice Phillips, reported in
The Guardian (30 May).

The most senior judge in the country makes wide criticisms of the criminal justice system today and warns prison overcrowding is proving “absolutely fatal” for efforts to tackle the treatment of inmates. […] In a broad-ranging interview for the Guardian, his first on penal matters, Lord Phillips warns that judges should not send people to prison unless they really have to and that the “sensible place for rehabilitation is in the community”.

CYBERCRIME: U.S. Secret Service establishes electronic crime task force, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (24 May):

The U.S. Secret Service is expanding its relationship with local universities and financial institutions to prevent and combat electronic crimes. The Secret Service’s local field office already had created a network with Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University and local financial institutions to try to prevent hackers from stealing information and money. Yesterday the service announced it was establishing Electronic Crime Task Forces in nine cities, Pittsburgh included, to create public-private partnerships aimed at fighting high-tech computer-based crimes.

TERRORISM: Finally, remember the launch of a new terrorism research consortium last week? Always a good idea to check if people want to be in your gang before you announce that you’ve launched it, suggests the Scripps-Howard News Service (1 June):

Penn State officials last week announced they would partner with the University of New Mexico and several other schools to create the International Center for the Study of Terrorism. One problem: They forgot to tell UNM. […] “I think it’s like announcing you’re going to get married and your partner never hearing about that before,” Hagengruber said. “We were surprised. We’re not offended. There’s a misunderstanding in the way it came across.”