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Archive for the 'Crime & Criminology' Category

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Interview with James Liebman, Author of “The Wrong Carlos”

The Wrong Carlos

“If you want money, you rob banks. If you want to study executions, you go to Texas.”—James Liebman

A few weeks ago we featured The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution by James Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project and interest in the book and the case continues to grow. Most recently James Liebman was interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor about the book and the case. The following is an excerpt from the interview:

Q: What convinced you to investigate a specific death penalty case?

In 2000 and 2002, we published a big study which showed there was a huge amount of adjudicated errors found in capital cases in the United States by state and federal courts. Essentially, two-thirds of all death verdicts reviewed over a quarter century had been overturned based on serious error.

Proponents say the system is working, and we don’t have to worry about the ultimate error of someone being innocent. There’s another interpretation. If an airline company or a car company had this level of error, nobody would want to go near them. If there’s this much smoke, there’s got to be fire.

So we wanted to examine a particular case to see if we could determine the risk of executing the innocent. We went from a statistical study where we were just counting outcomes to making a judgement call about which cases would be interesting to look at.

Q: How did you find this case in particular?

We started by looking at Texas cases. If you want money, you rob banks. If you want to study executions, you go to Texas.

We started looking at eyewitness identification cases because of the long-standing evidence that these cases can be faulty. The witness in this case was one person who happened to be pumping gas outside a store where a clerk was attacked and killed.

He saw the assailant come out of the store and run away. After a 45-minute manhunt, he identified Carlos de Luna.

This case fit what we were looking for.

(more…)

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Carlos DeLuna, Carlos Hernandez, and Wanda Lopez: the Story in Pictures

The Wrong Carlos

This week our featured book is The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution, by James S. Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project. Today, see the story of Carlos DeLuna, Carlos Hernandez, and the murder of Wanda Lopez through images in our Pinterest board for The Wrong Carlos.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Wrong Carlos!

View the story of the case of Wanda Lopez’s murder here:
Follow Columbia University Press’s board The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution on Pinterest.

(more…)

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The Wrong Carlos: Video Testimony

The Wrong Carlos

This week our featured book is The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution, by James S. Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project. These compelling video interviews shed light on Carlos DeLuna’s childlike nature, as well as Carlos Hernandez’s consistently violent behavior. All four subjects, despite their disparate backgrounds, strongly attest to DeLuna’s innocence.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Wrong Carlos!

Rose Rhoton, Carlos DeLuna’s sister, speaks to his mild character and his innocence in this emotional interview.
(more…)

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Do we execute innocent people?

The Wrong Carlos

“Our book challenges readers to consider the evidence we have carefully arrayed—and to test each phrase in the book against all of the relevant evidence on the point to which readers can quickly link on the web site—and decide for themselves whether our criminal and capital justice systems are reliable enough to keep innocent people from being executed.” — James S. Liebman

This week our featured book is The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution, by James S. Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project. In today’s guest post, James S. Liebman gives an account of the origin of The Wrong Carlos as a research project and book, and explains how he hopes readers will read and react to the story of Carlos DeLuna’s execution.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Wrong Carlos!

Do we execute innocent people?
James S. Liebman

Do the three dozen American states that authorize death as a punishment for murder execute innocent people? That is the fundamental question at the heart of The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution, a book coauthors and I published last week with Columbia University Press.

I began thinking about this question in 2000 and 2002, when colleagues and I issued two studies of rates of serious error found by courts in U.S. capital cases: Broken System I: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-1995 and Broken System II: Why Is There So Much Error in Capital Cases and What Can Be Done About It?. The studies and a follow-up article documented judicial findings of serious error in over two-thirds of all U.S. capital cases that courts reviewed between 1973 and 1995. Nearly all of those findings involved the kinds of legal errors known to undermine the accuracy of the determination that the defendant committed the crime and that he or she deserved to die for it. (more…)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The Death of Wanda Lopez

The Wrong Carlos

“Forty minutes after Wanda’s call, the police closed the case with an arrest. They caught Carlos DeLuna in a residential neighborhood a few blocks east of the Sigmor.” — James S. Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project

This week our featured book is The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution, by James S. Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project. Today, we are taking a look at the crime that started it all: the murder of Wanda Lopez. In this excerpt from The Wrong Carlos, Liebman et al. lay out the scene of the crime and give the information that the police had received from various witnesses.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Wrong Carlos!

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Book Giveaway! The Wrong Carlos, by James S. Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project

The Wrong Carlos

This week our featured book is The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution, by James S. Liebman and the Columbia DeLuna Project. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its authors on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

“A masterful deconstruction of the Lopez murder and police investigation followed by the prosecution and execution of the wrong man. Given the number of men already exonerated from death row and the unacceptable incidence of innocent men convicted of capital crimes, there can be no doubt that innocent men have been executed by the state. Liebman’s command of the facts and intellectual precision, ultimately infused with a moral urgency, makes a compelling claim that Carlos DeLuna is one of those innocent men.” — Peter J. Neufeld and Barry Scheck, directors, Innocence Project

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Wrong Carlos. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, July 18th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter Discuss Pot Smuggling on HuffPost Live

Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter, coauthors of Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade, were recently on HuffPost Live to discuss their book and drug smuggling in Thailand in the 1960s and 1970s. Also joining them was Jim Conklin, the DEA agent who busted Mike Ritter for smuggling.

As the three explained, surfers began smuggling marijuana from Thailand but in relatively small quantities, driven by a spirit of adventure as much as a thirst for profit. Initially, neither Thai or U.S. officials paid much attention to the smugglers, who were generally nonviolent and “laid-back”. It was only later in the 1970s when professional criminals became involved and the amounts began to grow that the drug crackdown began.

After discussing this fascinating history, the three consider current drug policy and the dangers of synthetic opiates:

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

VIDEO: Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter on Thai Stick

Australia Network News recently broadcast a story about Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade, by Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter.

The story focuses, in part, on Mike Ritter’s personal story as someone who dropped out of college in 1967 and traveled the world searching for enlightenment and “the perfect wave.” Ultimately, in order to pay for his lifestyle, Ritter turned to smuggling Thai marijuana or Thai stick. While drug smuggling from Thailand in the 1970s was very lucrative, it was not without its dark side.

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Interview with Peter Maguire, author of Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade

Thai Stick, Peter Maguire

The following is an edited transcript of a podcast interview with Peter Maguire, coauthor of Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade. The excerpt starts with midway with Maguire talking about the marijuana smugglers.

For another interview with Maguire, you can listen to Waking from the American Dream.

PM: Yeah, these were modern day pirates who basically needed to find a way to finance their endless summers and growing up in southern California they were sort of our heroes and I was a young lifeguard in Malibu and knew many people in this world and for many years I kind of tried to, to pretend I was you know, a straight history professor that didn’t have this other life that I had led before I moved on to academia, but I figured it was time for me to come out of the cannabis closet.

Q: These surfers that were part of this giant drug trade, just, they didn’t think it was immoral

PM: No, absolutely not.

Q: Certainly there were people executed, who were caught….. I don’t understand why this story hasn’t been , well, part of the vernacular of the war on drugs.

PM: Well, you know you figure that you had a generation of, of many of these guys were draft dodgers, and had basically been turned criminal as a result of, of dodging the draft and evading service in the Vietnam War, or you know minor criminal convictions for marijuana use and they just left the system.

And in case of my co-author Mike Ritter, he was a draft dodger, went to Afghanistan, began, they all began, very small and the thing just escalates, and so by 1974, the Thai stick, the finest marijuana, really, of the 1970′s, grown by the hill tribes in, in northeast Thailand, one pound of Thai sticks in the United States was $2000 in 1974.

So basically, if you could fill a boat with Thai sticks and get it back to the United States you could set yourself up for life.

One of our favorite narrators, Mike Charley Tuna Carter, one of the great captains of the Thai marijuana fleet, he brought back six tons in I think 1975 and netted something like twenty million dollars that he seal-a-mealed, put in igloo coolers in his yard and called it the bank of the igloo underground.

But that’s, that’s half the story.

The other half of the story is the Southeast Asia 1975 to 1979 was probably one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world given not only the pirates, the boat people, the Khmer Rouge, the Vietnamese Navy, so the DEA was the least of the worries that the Thai smugglers faced.

Q: Well, in going, in going through the Pirates and Perils chapter, I can’t believe that they were taking that kind of risk, but for $2000 you could buy a house in 1974 for that.

PM: Oh absolutely. And my co-author, Mike Ritter, he would contract Thai fishermen, and Thai fishermen will traffic in anything. Smuggling is not really frowned upon in Thailand as long as you make money. And marijuana to the Thais is grown in every garden in the Northeast. It’s a therapeutic plant, really not many people even smoke it, it’s used in chicken soup, it’s used to sooth menstrual cramps, and help pregnant women, and the idea that, that the US government was coming down on this, the Thais had a hard time taking it even seriously.

Q: So, when the DEA decided that they were going to go after this, the way that they did why do you think it was specific to that?

PM: Money. It was all about money. And there was one DEA agent in particular who we interviewed extensively, named James Conklin, and he was a Vietnam veteran who understood Southeast Asia. He very candidly told us that in his early years in the DEA, he started in the BNDD, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, that marijuana was called kiddy dope and they weren’t allowed to touch it and they had to focus on heroin. And he said the thing that turned the tables was the money and that he got a tip from an informant about a Thai marijuana smuggler’s house in Santa Barbara and then he began to see the assets that these guys had and it absolutely blew his mind and he was the first one to really begin to get his head around it. He single handedly pretty much took down the Thai industry. So by 1988 they arrest Brian Daniels who had two gigantic loads come across the Pacific. One was in a boat captained by two former Green Berets and it had been loaded by the Vietnamese military. And so you know, money transcends all things. And the actual smugglers, I really would compare them to the rum-runners or the moon-shiners of the North Georgia mountains where there was arbitrary law against it this, but they didn’t see it as immoral or anything else.

Q: Well it was Dave Catenburg who you cited was a former Vietnam veteran, who said that in the 70′s it was a Robin Hood sort of thing.

PM: Oh absolutely.

Q: And the links that you make between these people who were draft dodgers, who are Vietnamese vets, who are Vietnamese military, there were no obstacles for them anymore, it was like they had just one currency.

PM: Absolutely, and you know for many, and it was interesting, for many who served in Vietnam and for many who were draft dodgers, the defining event of their lives was the Vietnamese war and so you had these very disparate groups come together in the post ’75 period, because you had Vietnam vets who had trade craft language skills, knew the country, they could procure loads, and then you had the surfers who could sail boats, offload boats and all that and they formed an uneasy alliance which breaks down over time and many of the former military guys become confidential informants and are much more comfortable dealing with the government and turning on their former co-conspirators and pretty much everyone gets busted, everyone.

(more…)

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Book Giveaway! Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade

Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade, Peter Maguire

This week we will be featuring Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade the extraordinary tale of marijuana smuggling in the 1970s by Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter.

Throughout the week we will be featuring Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade on our blog, twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Thai Stick to a lucky winner.

To enter our Book Giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on Friday, November 22 at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Interview with Stephanie Hepburn, author of Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight

Stephanie Hepburn, author of Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain SightThe following is an interview with Stephanie Hepburn, coauthor (with Rita Simon) of Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight (For more on the book, you can also watch a video of Stephanie Hepburn discussing the book.):

Question: What made you interested in writing about the topic of human trafficking?

Stephanie Hepburn: I moved to New Orleans in February 2006, not long after Hurricane Katrina. Just like any place in any country that experiences a natural disaster, the infrastructure was disrupted, the population was in flux and law enforcement personnel were overextended. In order to rebuild the city there was a sudden demand for low-wage labor, which created an ideal scenario for labor exploitation and human trafficking. Further compounding the scenario is that the United States government temporarily suspended numerous protections for workers that affected wages, safety and health. Also, the government temporarily suspended immigration-enforcement requirements. These temporary suspensions compounded the situation and allowed illicit contractors to move in, and bring in and exploit workers unnoticed.

This is actually where the latter part of the book title (Hidden in Plain Sight) came from: the workers were exploited out in the open, but they were hidden in plain sight because no one was paying attention to the exploitation. I first began to research the human trafficking cases in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region and after seeing the common patterns I added the entire U.S. and 23 other nations.

Q: What do you want to accomplish with this book?

SH: I wrote the book to attract a broad audience and be accessible to anyone – whether an academic, expert in the field or a layperson who happens to be curious about the topic. I wanted to bring about improved awareness and understanding of all forms of human trafficking. When most people think of human trafficking they think of sex trafficking. They aren’t incorrect but that certainly isn’t the entire picture. In fact, the International Labour Organization estimates that 68 percent of the 20.9 million victims of human trafficking are forced labor victim, while 22 percent are victims of forced sexual exploitation. The remaining victims are in state-imposed forms of forced labor. To me, all of these victims are forced labor victims and it doesn’t serve any positive purpose to differentiate — it simply results in disparate laws and treatment.

I also wanted to tell the stories of victims and strike a balance between humanizing the experience and giving essential statistical data. Many of the books that I have read on human trafficking tend to go in one direction or the other. I aimed to achieve both. To me, the statistics are necessary for giving as close to an accurate image as possible of the extent of human trafficking, while the stories are the glue and heart of the book. They prohibit reader detachment and give a clear image of what victims experience from beginning to end.

(more…)

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Stephanie Hepburn Discusses Her New Book Human Trafficking Around the World

The following video is from Stephanie Hepburn’s recent talk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Ethics to discuss her book, co-authored with Rita Simon, Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight :

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

VIDEO: Interview with Robert J. Durán, author of Gang Life in Two Cities: An Insider’s Journey

In the following interview with Fronteras, Robert J. Durán, author of Gang Life in Two Cities: An Insider’s Journey, talks about his new book as well as his experiences interviewing members of Latino gangs in Denver, Colorado and Ogden, Utah.

In the interview, Durán also describes his life as a member of a gang while also looking at larger issues, including the societal conditions that lead people to join gangs and the role of persistent racism in American society.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo Selected as Best Book of 2012

Writing for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen named The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo: The D.C. Sniper , by Carmeta Albarus and Jonathan H. Mack, as one of The Best 2012 Books About Justice.

Here’s what Andrew Cohen wrote about the book:

I read and wrote about this book in early October, around the same time that Malvo gave a series of well-publicized media interviews on the 10th anniversary of the Beltway shootings. There are young people everywhere in the world who endured worse from their parents than Malvo did, but who did not become the killer he did. But if you want a sense of the damage a broken life can create for innocent victims decades later, read this book.

For more on The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo, here is a recent interview with the authors on Due Process:

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Jonathan Mack on Lee Boyd Malvo

We continue our week-long feature on The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo: The D.C. Sniper with an interview with Jonathan H. Mack, Psy.D. Mack is a forensic psychologist and in the book he identifies and analyzes the underlying clinical psychological and behavioral processes that led to Malvo’s dissociation and turn toward serial violence.

Question: Dr. Mack, what can we learn from the Malvo case and the fact that these types tragic mass murders continue?

Jonathan Mack: I think that one critical point is that there are a large number of mentally disturbed juvenile and young adult individuals, predominately males but also females, whose mental disorders are either unidentified or poorly treated. These tragedies emphasize that mental and psychological disorders are every bit as life-threatening and devastating to our society as medical disorders, and that mental health care needs to have absolutely full parity with medical care . The cost to society is just too great not to implement this.

Q: What are some of the specific steps we as a nation can take to help curtail this epidemic of murders by disturbed people?

JM: Just about every police and public safety officer is required to pass a psychological examination and psychological testing prior to being cleared to carry a gun. I think we as a nation must consider mandatory psychological testing and evaluation prior to clearing any citizen to carry firearms, possibly with a background check that reveals prior mental health treatment and a full medication list. If you scratch the surface of the individuals who commit mass murders you will find that a lot them were on psychiatric medication, and specifically SSRI or SNRI-type antidepressants, at the time of the commission of those crimes. These medications have black box warning labels that these medications may significantly increase the risk of violent behavior (suicidal or homicidal) in young people.

(more…)

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Michael Armstrong, author of “They Wished They Were Honest,” on the Leonard Lopate Show

We continue our feature on They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption, with an interview with the book’s author, Michael F. Armstrong.

In the interview, Michael Armstrong describes the1970-72 Knapp Commission investigation into police corruption, prompted by the New York Times‘ report on whistleblower cop Frank Serpico. He also talks about how the commission affected the NYPD’s public image, what leads to police corruption, and the toll it takes on society.

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

They Wished They Were Honest, The Knapp Commission, Police Corruption, and Serpico

Police corruption, prostitution, and illegal gambling are all revealed in this CBS news report from 1971 on the Knapp Commission, which uncovered rampant corruption in the New York Police Department . The chief counsel for the commission was Michael Armstrong, author of They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption .

As background, below is an excerpt from the CBS news report, in which an officer discusses how various plainclothes policeman were on the take. The clip also includes a short interview with Xaviera Hollander (aka Madame X and The Happy Hooker)

And for more background, here is the trailer for Serpico (1973), which starred Al Pacino as Frank Serpico. Serpico’s contribution to a New York Times story on the police as well as his testimony to the Knapp Commission revealed the depth of the corruption in the New York City Police Department.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Book Giveaway! They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption

This week’s featured book is They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption, by Michael F. Armstrong.

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption and we are also offering a FREE copy of the book to one winner.

To enter our book giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and address (U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses only, unfortunately). We will randomly select one winner on Friday at 1:00 pm. Good luck and spread the word!

Michael B. Mukasey, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1988 – 2006
said of They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption:

In this account, both colorful and accurate, of New York City’s police corruption scandals uncovered by the Knapp Commission in the 1970′s, Michael Armstrong … has told not only a tautly drawn and engaging story, but also a cautionary tale for our own time. The characters — Frank Serpico, the Mayflower Madam, Detective Robert Leuci — leap from the page; the lesson — that constant supervision and vigilance are necessary to assure honesty in those who enforce the law — resonates in every chapter.

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Crime and Criminology Titles on Sale

Genetic JusticeSave 30% on selected titles in Criminology and Crime.

To receive the discount use the code CRIM in the “Enter Coupon Code” field at checkout and then click apply.

Sale ends February 15, 2012.

Titles on sale include:

Addressing Rape Reform in Law and Practice
Susan Caringella

The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation: Street Politics and the Transformation of a New York City Gang
David C. Brotherton and Luis Barrios

Gangs and Society: Alternative Perspectives
Edited by Louis Kontos, David C. Brotherton, and Luis Barrios

Genetic Justice: DNA Data Banks, Criminal Investigations, and Civil Liberties
Sheldon Krimsky and Tania Simoncelli

Global Vigilantes
Edited by David Pratten and Atryee Sen

History of the Mafia
Salvatore Lupo

Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery
Siddharth Kara