Here are some other items that caught my eye this week:
Former US attorney general Janet Reno gave a lecture to the University of Pennsylvania last week, reports The Daily Pennsylvanian (3 April 06), in which she challenged academics to take a scientific approach to combating crime:
Society’s crime problem will only be solved with scientific evidence applied to a smart public policy, according to Janet Reno. […] Reno said that research institutions like Penn’s Jerry Lee Center for Criminology are crucial for finding what works to stop crime.
The Washington Post (4 April 06) has a profile of Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. Volkow has spent her career researching the effects of drugs on the brain and the article offers an insight to her efforts to bring together science and public policy.
Now, three years into a stint directing the government’s $1 billion anti-drug research program, Volkow is channeling new energy into determining exactly how the brains of addicts and those who never get hooked differ – so scientists can develop better ways to prevent and treat drug abuse.
Houston’s homicides are up nearly 25% this year. If the trend continues, 2006 will be the deadliest year in more than a decade. The Houston Chronicle (2 April) dispels the notion that it is simply a Hurricane Katrina effect. Various reasons are put forward in the article, including:
- a staffing shortage
- “outmoded tools for crime analysis” (according to Police Chief Harold Hurtt).
- misdeployment of police officers, with the lowest presence of officers in the most violent police patrol districts
- the September arrival of tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina[which] “amplified tensions and violence in the high-crime complexes”
- an increase in gang activity
University of Chicago Chronicle (Vol 25 Issue 13, 30 March) reports that Chicago Law School Professor Bernard Harcourt is about to publish a provocative new study that finds no evidence to support the popular theory that “broken-windows” policing actually reduces crime. Broken Windows: New Evidence from New York City, and a Five-City Social Experiment by Bernard Harcourt and Jens Ludwig appears in the latest issue of University of Chicago Law Review. Access the full text (pdf) here.
Crime fight focuses on emergency room intervention, reports the Boston Globe (5 April), where officials “hope to interrupt cycles of violence by offering counseling, drug treatment, and other help to victims of gunshot wounds and stabbings”.
This paper provides the first empirical evidence about which malicious strategies are successful at deceiving general users. We first analyzed a large set of captured phishing attacks and developed a set of hypotheses about why these strategies might work. We then assessed these hypotheses with a usability study in which 22 participants were shown 20 web sites and asked to determine which ones were fraudulent.
Fingerprints reveal clues to suspects’ habits, reports New Scientist (3 April):
Fingerprints from a crime scene are useless if the perpetrator’s prints are not on file. But new forensic techniques now mean they can be used to determine whether a person is a smoker, uses drugs, and even which aftershave they wear – information that could help narrow down suspects. Fingerprints contain a mixture of skin cells, sweat secretions and substances picked up from elsewhere. Careful analysis can show whether a person may have handled drugs or explosives, but the new tools make it possible to determine a person’s habits from the secretions in their prints as well.
Finally, if all this talk of phishing, brain fingerprinting and the neuroscience of drug addiction is just too much, here’s a site to take you back to the good old days.
The FBI has a long history of bringing criminals to justice, and their cases are often pulled straight from the headlines. Their work is evident in almost every stage in the last 100 years of American history. NewspaperARCHIVE.com, the largest newspaper database online, has provided a free archive on the history of the FBI.
You can find it at http://www.fbiarchive.com