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Title: Crime Television

Edition: 1st

Author: Douglas Snauffer

ISBN:  0-275-98807-4

Publisher: Praeger Publishers

Price: £28.99

Publication date: 30th September 2006


In both Britain and the United States the forensic crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and its spin-off shows, has unarguably been the television phenomena of recent years. Shown in over seventy countries, CSI is not just a smash hit, but has arguably become the touchstone TV crime show that marks its era, in the same way as Kojak or Starsky and Hutch defined the 1970s, or Hill Street Blues and later NYPD Blue provided seminal representations of policing for the 1980s and 1990s.

Such is the popularity of the CSI franchise that it has been credited with creating its own "CSI effect". In the show, techniques of forensic criminal investigation are used to solve the most complex cases, invariably achieving perfect certainty as to who was killed, how and by whom and, even in most instances, why! This extreme “forensic optimism” has led to criticism. The show is held both to give the public undue confidence in convictions secured on the basis of forensic evidence, and to give juries unrealistic expectations as to what level of proof real-life forensics can be expected to provide. Furthermore, although forensic investigation is by no means the crime-solver that its dramatic representation purports it to be, this has not stopped a new wave of potential investigators taking up criminal forensic courses and job opportunities.

The success of the CSI franchise raises any number of interesting questions: about how televisual representations of policing relate to policing realities; about the role of serving and former police personnel in acting as advisors to the producers of crime drama; and about the impact such representations have on the public’s perceptions of what policing and criminal investigation can be expected to achieve. In this context, a steady stream of books examining the (US) TV cop show / crime drama has emerged in recent years. Douglas Snauffer’s Crime Television is one of the latest attempts to pin down the significance of this "genre".

According to its publisher’s blurb, Crime Television attempts to provide a detailed history of the genre (for America from the 1950s to the present day), and to show how crime television in different eras both mirrors society’s ideas about crime and crime- solving, and reflects developments in the wider culture. Snauffer duly compiles a wide- ranging overview of crime television in the post-war United States. The work is arranged chronologically, with a chapter devoted to each decade from the 1950s to the present day.

There is little doubt that Snauffer located and viewed episodes of the many TV shows that he discusses, and supplemented this by conducting interviews with 'some of the most important writers and producers of crime television (jacket blurb).  The account offered considers a broad range of shows from each decade, including both the commercially successful and well-remembered and also some of the more marginal shows which enjoyed minor success, or, in some instances, achieved a degree of critical acclaim, but barely flickered into commercial life before being dropped from the schedules. The discussion of each show identifies its basic format and themes, its production origins, its degree of commercial and critical success - particularly its viewer ratings, and the number of episodes it ran for in its various incarnations. In addition, an outline of some of the 'more memorable episodes' is used to highlight the show’s approach to crime and policing and the extent to which the programme attempted to take on board social issues.

However, despite an undoubted amount of work that has gone into compiling the account, the overall result is somewhat disappointing. The discussion produced is too detailed and too descriptive. Chapters are delivered as solid unbroken text, providing a mass of information about broadcast dates, writing credits, Nielsen ratings, and so forth but without even any subheadings to guide the reader. Even as a ‘production history’ the account lacks adequate signposting and an organised argument.

For anyone interested in researching crime TV, this book throws up a mass of questions around the interplay between TV producers, screenplay writers, sponsors and advertisers, regulatory bodies and, of course, relations with the police themselves. But the book never really systematically organises its thoughts on these issues and instead, contents itself with posing rhetorical questions (who are the heroes and villains?), which are never really answered. 

This is most disappointing when coming up to the present day. Snauffer, to his credit, does a good job of identifying not just the standout smash-hit shows of the moment, but also elaborates some of the lesser known but still significant (including the earlier but soon to be re-issued Picket Fences). His discussion of shows such as Without A Trace, Cold Case, and Medium raise a host of interesting issues about the ways in which crime drama has become more emotionally charged (sentimental) in its representations of victims, witnesses and, on occasions, perpetrators. 

Whether the new crop of more emotively involved crime-solvers represents a useful counterpoint to CSIs forensic optimism, or alternatively just spins another set of crime-solving myths is an interesting question. But, despite the claim that the book addresses the relationship between the crime genre and the wider society, the analysis of this is hardly developed at all – swamped out by the detail and minutiae of writing credits and accounts of the behind the scenes wrangles that dogged the production of the shows considered.

Ultimately Crime Television runs the risk of pleasing no-one. The discussion isn’t academic enough to find much of a place on University courses. And yet the work doesn’t really qualify as a populist appreciation of crime television – it is difficult to see a fan readership ploughing through the detailed histories of the vast range of shows discussed, just to see if their own particular favourites gets a mention. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as Snauffer’s background is as a screenplay writer, it is this group who emerge as the ‘unsung heroes’ of TV crime drama.  Really, this book needed much tougher editorial control, and more thought given to its presentation, if it was to make the best of material it had available to it. Exactly how the TV crime genre reflects the social mores of the times of its making, remains to a large extent, a still unanswered question.

Sean O’Sullivan

Dead Wrong
Violence, Vengeance, and the Victims of Capital Punishment

Edition: 1st

Author: Richard A. Stack

Foreword by Rob Warden

ISBN: 0275992217

Publishers: Praeger

Price £28.99

Publication date:

Publisher’s Title Description

Polls indicate that 75 percent of Americans favour the death penalty-but they also show that minds change when individuals are confronted with the facts. This book was written to offer those facts-and to change those minds.

The United States is alone among Western democ­racies in its support for capital punishment, which was only briefly abolished throughout this country between 1972 and 1976. Today, 38 states have some form of capital punishment. Yet studies show that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, that racial disparities in the implementation of capital punishment are rampant, and that all kinds of procedural errors, incompetent defence lawyers, and mistaken eyewitness identifications lead to an alarming number of wrongful convictions.

Attitudes toward the death penalty have changed dramatically throughout the course of history, evolving from times when public executions were occasions of solemn and pious ritual to excuses for raucous entertainment, and finally to the modern era of private, bureaucratized, mechanized, and sanitized executions that are out of sight and out of mind. Conforming thus to modern sensibilities, state-sanctioned killing is somehow more acceptable to us than public hangings would have been, because we can imagine that the inmate's death is relatively painless, and not in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual" punishment. This may or may not be true; Stack presents compelling arguments to the contrary. What is certain is that Dead Wrong demonstrates beyond a doubt that death row is itself a form of psychological torture and of slow, painful dehumanization.

Endorsement From Marc Mauer Executive Director The Sentencing Project

In Dead Wrong Rick Stack reveals the human dimension of the death penalty, from the agonizing decision making on clemency by Governor Ryan to the horror of people spending years on Death Row for crimes they did not commit. Such stories need to be a critical part of our public debate on the death penalty.

Endorsement From Richard C. Dieter Executive Director Death Penalty Information Center

The times are rapidly changing around the death penalty and Richard Stack brings the reader up to date on the many developments that are influencing public attitudes on capital punishment in the U.S. The use of the death penalty is in decline and this book helps explain why, connecting the death penalty's earlier history to recent dramatic events. This story is told in a way that will be accessible and of interest to a broad range of readers.

Endorsement From Sister Helen Prejean

Polls of Americans consistently reveal broad support for capital punishment. When respondents are given more information, however, that support softens, resulting in an even split of opinions. The well considered reasoning of DEAD WRONG can significantly inform the public discourse on this life and death issue. As an advisor to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Stack worked to change the critical inquiry from, "Is capital punishment a deterrent to crime?" to "Can we trust our government to take human life when the criminal justice system is so flawed?" I recommend Stack's cutting-edge vision to anyone wishing to reduce the level of violence in our society."

The Author

Richard A. Stack, a lawyer and Associate Professor of Communication at American University, pioneered the field of litigation public relations and refined his ideas during seven years of pro bono media advising for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Reviewer Wanted

Would you be interested in reviewing this book? (The Book Above) If you are interested in providing a review in about 600/800 words within 3 months or sooner then please contact me by e-mail at providing a small CV and your interest in this particular book.

For an indication of what is required please see this site, which contains hundreds of examples. "Internet Law book Reviews" which currently attracts up to 1000 visitors per day welcomes all categories of reviewers.

The Dark Side of the Internet

Edition: 1st

Author: Paul Bocij

ISBN 027598575X

Publishers: Praeger

Price £25.99

Publication Date: 30th Oct 2006

Publisher’s Title Description:

In less than a decade, personal computers have become part of our daily lives. Many of us come into contact with computers every day, whether at work, school or home. As useful as the new technologies are, they also have a darker side. By making computers part of our daily lives, we run the risk of allowing thieves, swindlers, and all kinds of deviants directly into our homes. Armed with a personal computer, a modem and just a little knowledge, a thief can easily access confidential information, such as details of bank accounts and credit cards. This book is intended to help people avoid harm at the hands of Internet criminals. It offers a tour of the more dangerous parts of the Internet, as the author explains who the predators are, their motivations, how they operate and how to protect against them. Behind the doors of our own homes, we assume we are safe from predators, con artists, and other criminals wishing us harm. But the proliferation of personal computers and the growth of the Internet have invited these unsavory types right into our family rooms. With a little psychological knowledge a con man can start to manipulate us in different ways. A terrorist can recruit new members and raise money over the Internet. Identity thieves can gather personal information and exploit it for criminal purposes. Spammers can wreak havoc on businesses and individuals. Here, an expert helps readers recognize the signs of a would-be criminal in their midst. Focusing on the perpetrators, the author provides information about how they operate, why they do it, what they hope to do, and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

The Author

PAUL BOCIJ is a published writer of numerous computer training titles and has published articles on various cybercrimes in journals such as The Criminal Lawyer and Prison Service Journal. He is the author of Cyberstalking (Praeger, 2004).


Anyone who owns a computer must have encountered that moment when they feel like tearing their hair out or picking up the computer and throwing it out of the window. 

There is every chance the moment may have been brought about by those unpleasant people who for some reason known only to themselves,  spend their lives hell-bent on destroying other people’s work or pleasure, viz the writers of viruses, trojans and worms. 

As well as fully covering the subject of on-line criminals, this book actually goes on to examine who writes viruses and why.    Apparently it is curiosity, educational, enjoyment, status and social benefits, political, financial gain, or revenge, which covers just about everything except a sick mind!

We are reminded on Page 59 of the importance of back-up in the section on ‘Dealing With Viruses’.  I learnt very many years ago the three most important words in computing, ‘Back-up, back-up, back-up’ or the Grandfather, Father, Son routine’, which of course I fail to adhere to. 

This same section deals with the importance of Anti-Virus software, which I have used for many years.  I still do not rely on Windows and run Norton, which I personally have found very effective. 

This is an excellent book, which covers everything you need to know and I will certainly recommend it to all my family and friends.  My copy will not be far from my desk. 

We are told on the cover that, ‘We assume that behind the doors of our homes, we are safe from predators, con-artists and other criminals wishing us harm’.  The truth is as the Sergeant always told the patrols in 'Hill Street Blues' "Be careful out there people". 

In addition to matters already mentioned, the book also covers Spy and Adwear, Identity theft, Fraud, Junk E-Mail and much more.  If these words mean nothing to you, then this book would be a very good place to start.

Rob Jerrard

This book is a crime prevention book on internet crime, not a law book. The book appears to be written with a view to crime prevention and with the perspective of a crime prevention practitioner. Paul Bocij relates the methods used and opportunities sought by the internet criminal. This book arms the reader with information and crime prevention techniques that can be used to avoid victimisation. In this respect Paul Bocij’s "Dark Side of the Internet" is an educational book. Just as you would protect your physical self and belongings with property protection devices such as burglar alarms, locks, CCTV and other security devices, you should protect your physical and mental self and our finances on the internet with access control strategies, virus protections, passwords and keeping to the rules for information security.

 Its 253 pages contain 12 chapters, namely-



Viruses, Trojans and Worms.

Spyware and Adware.

Identity Theft.

E-mail fraud.

Auctions and other forms of Fraud.

Junk e-mail.

Intellectual Property theft.


Online relationships.

Deviant subculture.

 Each chapter of the book ends with useful website addresses and details of books for further information on that particular topic. At the end of each chapter are brief guidelines drawn from the FBI, the National Consumer League, the National Centre for the Victims of Crime, the US Department of Justice and others. There is included a glossary which is to be found at pages 205 to 218. The books also has an extensive bibliography.

 After reading through this book, I did not want to go to my computer for some time, but for most people that alternative is not viable in this information age. When considering internet crime, we must remember that it is not the internet that commits crime but people who lie, cheat and steal. Offenders are to blame for the bad reputation of the internet. The internet is just the system in which cybercrimes are committed. Some such offenders are those who constructed the system itself. For example, with regard to cyberattacks, Paul Bocij says (on page 27) that "Research has shown that most security incidents originate from within the organisation".

 The most disconcerting thing I have read in this book on cybercrime is the attack on the public at large in ways such as chain e-mails, petitions  and  charity and disaster-fund relief fraud. Bocij says that, "whenever a major disaster takes place, it is only a matter of hours before criminals try to take advantage. Online frauds relating to disaster relief have appeared after major incidents around the world, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Typically, millions of e-mails are sent out asking for donations. Following the link given in the e-mail message takes the Internet users to a web site that appears to belong to a genuine charity. The site asks people to make a donation by credit card and anyone who does so risks becoming a victim of identity theft".

Identity theft is a financial crime. In identity theft on the internet, the suspect assumes the identity of the victim through use of personal information and uses the new identity to commit fraud. The primary element for the success of identity theft is obtaining the personal information of the victim.

 Chapter 6 deals with e-mail fraud such as phishing and 419 "scams". Email frauds are usually frauds against the individual.

 Chapter 12 discusses the ways that sexual deviants target children and vulnerable adults. A paedophile on the internet simply develops a relationship and seduces children over a period of time, all the while parents being oblivious of this relationship. Oftentimes parents have not installed parental controls or filtering software on their children’s computers. Children’s computers are usually positioned in the privacy of bedrooms where illicit secrecy is fed. The book educates the adult reader who can then educate children about not giving out their names, telephone number, address or parent’s information to anyone on the internet.

 My comment on internet crime is that the internet does not have territorial boundaries like our physical environment. As human beings, we passionately confirm to ownership of our territory and this invokes our protective care. The internet does not give the same perception of territoriality or protectiveness that people have for their homes, streets, parks and countries. The internet facilitates anonymity and secrecy and herein lies the roots of the crime. "The Dark Side of the Internet" is an informative crime prevention book.

Sally Ramage

Serial Murder and Media Circuses

Edition: 1st

Author: Dirk C Gibson


Publishers: Praeger

Price £22.99

Publication Date: 30th July 2006

Publisher’s Title Description:

The Axman of New Orleans specialized in killing grocers of Italian descent in the 1910s, apparently to promote "jazz" music. Dorothea Puente was a little old landlady who murdered her tenants, but kept cashing their government checks. The Manson Family terrorized California in the 1960s, as did the Hillside Stranglers a decade later. Twelve serial murder cases, occurring in eight decades between the 1890s and 1990s, had one thing in common: significant presence of the mass media. This book examines these specific cases of serial murder, and the way the media became involved in the investigations and trials of each. Gibson argues that the American media plays a multidimensional and integral role in serial killings and their investigation--and that this role is not generally a positive one. Serial murder cases motivate the media in unfortunate ways, and the result is that even typically respectable media organizations can be involved in such things as document theft, or in interfering with the capture of serial murderers on the run. This link between multiple murderers and mass communication is not accidental or coincidental; rather, the relationship between the press and serial killers is one of extraordinary importance to both parties. Gibson examines the role of the media in serial murder cases; the body of knowledge on serial murder as seen through the lens of mass communication; the effectiveness of law enforcement responses to serial murderers and how they might be improved if the mass communication influence was better understood; the magnitude of the serial murder problem; and the interaction between the media, the killers, and serial murder investigations. Specific examples and numerous quotes are provided throughout to illustrate this strange and detrimental "relationship" between media and serial murderers.

Table of Contents:



Henri Desire Landru

The Axeman of New Orleans

Earle Nelson

The Manson 'Family'

Ian Brady & Myra Hindley

Angelo Buono Jr, & Kenneth Bianchi

Jeffrey Dahmer

Dorothea Puente

Gary Ridgway

Andrew Cunanan

Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka

Westley Dodd




The Author

DIRK C. GIBSON is Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico. He has published numerous articles on a variety of topics in such journals as Public Relations Quarterly, Public Relations Review, and Southern Communication Journal. He has also published several book chapters and two books, The Role of Communication in the Practice of Law (1991) and Clues from Killers (Praeger, 2004).

Sex Crimes Investigation - Catching and Prosecuting the Perpetrators

Edition: 1st

Author: Robert L Snow

ISBN: 0275989348

Publishers: Praeger

Price £22.99

Publication Date: 4 3 2006

Publisher’s Title Description:

No one wants to be robbed at gunpoint, or have his car stolen, or his house robbed. When these crimes happen, victims may feel angry, afraid, or violated. But there is no violation quite so devastating as sexual assault. Victims do not recover easily--either emotionally, psychologically, or physically from such incidents, and the long-term impact can be devastating to the victims, their families, and communities. Investigating violent sex crimes is particularly difficult for many reasons. Often the collection of evidence requires a full medical examination of the victim--a second violation of sorts. Police must interview the victim, who must recount his or her assault. Often, the victims are children, and offenders range from family members to perfect strangers. But investigating and prosecuting these crimes is crucial to the healing process of many victims, and to the safety of society at large. Detective Snow takes readers on a tour of the ways in which the police investigate and help prosecute such crimes. Each chapter begins with a real-life incident and throughout the book real stories are used to illustrate each step in the process. Snow addresses the processing of the crime scene, the collection of evidence, the development of suspects, the questioning of witnesses and perpetrators, and the preparation for trial. Few members of the public have any idea how complex and delicate the investigation of sex crimes really is. This book sheds light on this important police work and helps readers understand how these crimes are investigated, solved, and prosecuted. Victims and their families will especially benefit from the information in this book, but all readers will gain insight into the crimes, their incidence, their impact on victims, and the way the criminal justice system responds, from the scene of the crime through the capture and incarceration of the perpetrators.

The Author

Robert L. Snow is Commander of the Homicide Branch in the Indianapolis Police Department, and author of Deadly Cults: The Crimes of True Believers and Murder 101, among other titles.

Reviewer Wanted

Would you be interested in reviewing this book? (The Book Above) If you are interested in providing a review in about 600/800 words within 3 months or sooner then please contact me by e-mail at providing a small CV and your interest in this particular book.

For an indication of what is required please see this site, which contains hundreds of examples. "Internet Law book Reviews" which currently attracts up to 1000 visitors per day welcomes all categories of reviewers.

Killer Priest

Edition: 1st

Author: Mark Gado

ISBN: 0275985539

Publishers: Praeger

Price £22.99

Publication Date: 30 March 2006

Publisher's Title Description:

He was a Catholic priest and a killer. Hans Schmidt, ordained in Germany in 1904, arrived in the United States in 1908 and was assigned to St. John's Parish in Louisville, Kentucky. Arguments with the minister resulted in Schmidt's transfer to St. Boniface Church in New York City. There he met beautiful Anna Aumuller, a housekeeper for the rectory who had recently emigrated from Austria. Despite his transfer to a Church far uptown, Father Schmidt and Anna continued a romantic affair and, in a secret ceremony he performed himself, they were married. When he discovered she was pregnant, Father Schmidt knew his secret life would soon be exposed. On the night of September 2, 1913, he cut Anna's throat, dismembered her body, and threw the parts into the Hudson River. When the body was discovered, he was arrested and charged with the murder. A media circus ensued, as the New York papers became fascinated by the priest and his double life. After feigning insanity during his first trial, which ended with a hung jury, Father Schmidt was eventually convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. He remains the only priest ever executed for murder in the United States. The public fascination with cases involving husbands suspected of murdering their pregnant wives predates Scott Peterson and Mark Hacking. When the press learned that Father Schmidt was suspected of killing his pregnant wife, it generated the kind of flashy headlines and gossipy speculation similar crimes elicit today. The case provided a spectacle for the media and captured the imagination of a city. Not only did Father Schmidt kill his young, pregnant bride, but further investigation proved that he had a second apartment where he had set up a printing press and counterfeited $10 bills. In Louisville, the dismembered body of a missing nine-year-old girl was found buried in the basement of St. John's church, where Schmidt had previously worked. In addition, German police wanted to talk to Father Schmidt about a murdered girl in his hometown. Though he was never charged, it was strongly suspected that Father Schmidt committed these murders as well. On February 18, 1916, Father Schmidt was executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison. This book tells this tale in vivid and lively detail and looks at the man, the crime, and the attention both received in the popular press and the city at large.

Table of Contents:


The Chapel

The Sixth


Into the Cellar

The Pursuit

At Dawn

Cliffside Park



The Rectory




In the Tombs


Close Union



The Sacrifice

Sing Sing

Death Row





Reviews to date:

In Killer Priest, Mark Gado recounts the true story of a Catholic priest from Germany who, after what Gado believes were actually a string of killings, ends up an inmate on Sing Sing's death row convicted of the murder of the rectory housekeeper he inpregnated.
Journal News (Westchester) May 6, 2006


This is a true story, and, though clearly the product of careful research, the narrative turns bizarre facts into lurid and sometimes lascivious melodrama.

Hans Schmidt, born 1881, was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and ordained in Germany.  He emigrated to the United States, served in parishes in New York, married his housekeeper in a secret ceremony performed by himself, murdered her, and died in the electric chair in 1914. He was almost certainly guilty of at least one other murder: that of a young girl, for whose killing another roan served twenty-six years in a Kentucky prison, claiming innocence until the day he died.

The persistence of one police officer eventually led to the arrest of Father Schmidt and the sensational story aroused great public interest at the time, given the piquant mixture of murder, sex and religion.  The author, a police detective in New York, had plenty of contemporary material to draw from in newspapers and police reports but received no co-operation from the Catholic Church. He weaves his researches into a coherent narrative but, as he writes in his introduction:

"Of course, it is impossible to know exactly what was said in conversations that took place, for example, in the privacy of someone's home or in an isolated cell-block.  For that, some literary license had to be taken in order to maintain reader interest and story continuity.  But the author is confident that in each and every instance, the words used in the narrative are supported by the evidence and dictated by common sense."

Reader interest is maintained; from the account of Father Schmidt's strange childhood, through to the (over?) detailed description of his execution it is as compelling as any popular work of crime fiction.  Nevertheless, an uneasy impression is left, as if the author is revelling in telling the tale of a psychopathic killer, whose obsessions and delusions had been evident from an early age, and is presenting it solely for titillation.

The Series Foreword states:  "This volume is only the first in a series that we expect to be both timely and significant."

Pearl Norman

Preventing Teen Violence A Guide for Parents and Professionals

Authors: Sherri N McCarthy & Claudio Simon Hutz

ISBN: 0-275-98246-7

Publishers: Praeger

Price £74

Publication Date: 1/30/2006

Publisher’s Title Description:

Ever since the killings at Columbine High School created a renewed focus on the problems of adolescent aggression, professionals in education, criminal justice, and social services have been seeking ways to curb its rising tide. This volume examines adolescent aggression from many perspectives--biological, psychological, and social--and analyses some of the contributing factors to this growing problem. Written by internationally recognized experts in adolescent psychology, this book not only covers the causes of teen violence but, more important, offers solutions. McCarthy, Hutz, and their contributors reveal the precursors to violent behaviour, and provide strategies for working with adolescents to prevent future violence. The symptoms and strategies are described clearly in a way that can be understood and adapted by parents, schools, social service agencies, and criminal justice institutions. Topics include: substance abuse; suicide and self-harm; sexual aggression; anger management and impulse control; gang violence; school violence; bullying; resilience; and increasing critical thinking skills. This book is a must-read for anyone who lives, works, or comes in contact with youth.

Table of Contents:


Defining Adolescence and Examining Adolescent Aggression

School Violence: An Overview m

Strategies for Educators to Prevent Youth Violence

Aggression Directed Inward: Substance-Abuse, Suicide, and Self-Harm

Sexual Aggression among Adolescents

Anger Management Training Strategies to Reduce Adolescent Violence

Proactive Parenting in a Changing World

Teens, Violence, and the "3 R's": Resilience, Rehabilitation, and Recovery

Integrating Programs and Practices to Reduce Aggression

Cultural Aspects of Moral Development and Impulse Control

Reducing Adolescent Aggression by Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Street Kids, Anti Social Behaviour, and Adolescent Aggression

Philosophies that Foster Violence: Religious, Cultural, and Political Risk Factors


The issue of domestic violence has exploded onto the professional and political agenda in recent years, with many books and research papers following a similar evolutionary trajectory. Within this huge area a number of key dimensions have received insufficient attention and teenage violence is one such issue. The issue is a broad one and links to a number of current UK political initiatives such as tackling teenage anti-social behaviour and holding the young person responsible for their actions. In this broader context, this book is to be welcomed, especially since it is addressed not only at professionals but at parents. This is key: tackling such a problem requires parental understanding and support. The authors frame teen violence as a form of terrorism and once again this strikes a chord in the current international climate and encourages you to shift beyond simply an understanding, but to explore potential solutions.

The opening chapters of the book offer a useful overview of adolescence and adolescent aggression and this is then followed by chapters which focus on specific issues such as school violence, sexual aggression, substance abuse and suicide. It is useful that such a dense book is effectively broken down into manageable parts, since this allows people to dip in and focus on specific issues, or read it as a whole and see what issues and potential solutions are common across problems. It also benefits from drawing on an international literature although I am aware that much UK literature was omitted which could have contributed greatly to the debate. This may also be partly due to the authors coming from adolescent psychology and whilst they are aware of the limitations this brings to exporting it to other professional groups, they do not actually redress this in their sources or references. However one of the key problems associated with the current government assessment framework (DOH, 2000) is the lack of attention given to cultural and social factors and a very real strength for social workers will be attention to the religious, cultural and political risk factors, which have to be embraced in any effective response.

I can see this book being used by a wide range of professionals to help understand the source problem, although it will not be used as an assessment tool in its own right.

Martin C Calder

Prisons and Prison Systems - A Global Encyclopedia

Author: Mitchel P Roth

ISBN: 0313326560

Publishers: Greenwood

Price £42.99

Publication Date: 11/30/2005

Publisher’s Title Description

Prisons have undoubtedly changed over the years, as have penal practices in general, though more so in some countries than others. Prisons and prison systems have long been an overlooked part of criminal justice research, and as a result, limited material is available on many institutions. This comprehensive encyclopedia provides a historical overview of institutions and systems around the world, as well as penal theories, prisoner culture and life, and notable prisoners and personnel. Readers will find a plethora of information including material on such famous prisons as the Tower of London and Alcatraz, as well as on such topics as boot camps and parole. Other entries include Devil's Island, supermaximum prisons, Nelson Mandela, Pennsylvania system, and Amnesty International. Numerous appendixes list famous prisoners, prison museums, prison slang, and more.

Table of Contents

Alphabetical List of Entries

Topical List of Entries




The Encyclopedia

Appendix A: Prison Museums

Appendix B: Some Famous Prisoners and their Prison History

Appendix C: Writings by Prisoners

Appendix D: Writings by Prison Employees

Appendix E: Prison Architects and Visionaries

Appendix F: Federal Correctional Institutions (USA)

Appendix G: Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Appendix H: Selections from Alcatraz Prison Regulations

Appendix I: National Prison Congress Declaration of Principles

Appendix J: The Mutual Welfare League

Appendix K: Plan for a Penitentiary Inspection House by Jeremy Bentham

Appendix L: Prison Argot/Glossary/Slang

Appendix M: French Prison Slang from Devil's Island

Appendix N: Soviet Slang from the Gulags



Crime and punishment are nearly as old as the world itself, and it is a world view of one element of punishment, incarceration, that Roth presents in this one-volume work. A succinct preface clearly defines organization and methodology of inclusion and exclusion. An introduction offers a brief history of incarceration, and is followed by a chronology from 1900 BCE to 2004 CE. The main body of the work consists of nearly 500 alphabetically arranged, cross-referenced entries ranging in length from a paragraph to several pages; each lists one or more sources. The scope is impressive, covering everything from famous prisons (Alcatraz), famous prisoners (Nelson Mandela), and prison reformers (Dorothea Dix) to prison architecture (panopticon), prison innovations (supermaximum prisons), prison terminology ("parole"), prison slang ("screw"), prison organizations (Amnesty International), and much more; especially useful are the more than 200 entries on national prison systems.... This truly unique and valuable resource is well suited and accessible for both research and browsing, and is eminently suitable for academic and larger public libraries. Highly recommended.  Lower-division undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers.
May 2006

Any college-level collection with a focus on law enforcement should have Mitchel P. Roth's Prisons and Prison Systems: A Global Encyclopedia in their collection: it packs in details on famous prisons, prisoners, prison museums, prison culture, writings by prisoners and more, with listings ranging from paragraphs of biographical detail to near-essay fullness.
The Midwest Book Review - California Bookwatch
April 2006

This reference for criminal justice researchers provides a historical overview of prison institutions and systems around the world. Arranged alphabetically, the cross-referenced entries cover important facilities, prominent reformers, famous prisoners, major architects, and relevant legislation. The focus is on traditional correctional facilities, and prisoner-of-war camps and concentration camps are not covered. More than a dozen appendices offer supplemental information on such topics as prison slang and international standards for the treatment of prisoners.
Reference & Research Book News
February 2006

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The Global Gun Epidemic, From Saturday Night Specials to AK-47s

Authors:  Wendy Cukier & Victor W. Sidel

ISBN: 0-275-98256-4

Publishers: Praeger

Price £28.99

Publication Date: 12/30/2005

Publisher’s Title Description:

Just as guns know no borders, gun violence has become a global epidemic, killing hundreds of thousands of people each year and injuring many more. The toll is staggering. Experts estimate that there are 35,000 annual gun-related deaths in Brazil, 10,000 in South Africa, 20,000 in Colombia, and 30,000 in the United States. While guns kill or maim great numbers of people in war zones, two thirds of small arms are in the possession of civilians. Although guns do not in and of themselves "cause" violence, they increase its lethality and fuel "cultures of violence." This book documents the global gun trade, its threat to public health, and efforts to remedy the situation. Virtually every illegal gun begins as a legal gun. With the globalization of trade in licit products has come the globalization of the illegal trade in guns. For example, weapons originating in the United States fuel violence in Canada, Latin America, and as far away as Japan. And unregulated ownership of guns fuels crime. Because weapons tend to flow from unregulated areas to regulated areas, international cooperation is critical, but global efforts have been hampered by major arms producers and gun lobbies such as the National Rifle Association. Since 1998 there has been an emerging global movement to control the illicit trade and misuse in guns, and many countries have moved to strengthen their gun laws in an effort to combat this global epidemic.

Endorsements to Date

Endorsement From David Hemenway, PhD
Professor of Health Policy
Harvard School of Public Health
Author of Private Guns Public Health: Professors Cukier and Sidel have written the most authoritative book on the subject, a fair-minded analysis of the current "global gun epidemic." The book provides both the scientific evidence about the misuse of guns internationally, plus a recipe of what can be done to reduce the problem. The authors are not only respected academics, but passionate advocates for public health and safety. This book should be read by anyone interested in improving global public health.

Endorsement From Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M. Tutu
Nobel Peace Laureate, 1984
South Africa: [A] much-needed comprehensive and well-documented yet remarkably readable review of guns and gun violence as a threat to human rights and public health all over the world. Violence has played an important part in South Africa's history and violence has been called the greatest threat to human rights in our country, but South Africa is determined that peace will be its future. South Africa has therefore recognized the importance of strengthened gun control laws, intended not only to reduce the misuse of guns in our country but also, because of the impact South African guns have in the region, to reduce their misuse in southern Africa. Since strong anti-gun laws have an important international role in shaping both use and values, it is vital that all countries do their share in combating this global epidemic.

Endorsement From Michael Klare
Professor of Peace and World Security Studies
Hampshire College: At last we have a thorough and readable book on the global epidemic of gun violence that examines this deadly scourge in all of its critical dimensions! Wendy Cukier and Victor Sidel draw on studies from around the world to demonstrate how uncontrolled gun trafficking is endangering the lives and safety of people everywhere. They also show in practical terms how we protect ourselves from this plague through concerted international action. An important book at a critical moment in human affairs.

Endorsement From Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY): All too often, the debate over tougher gun laws ignores many important by-products of gun violence. Wendy Cukier and Victor Sidel have done a great service in bringing attention to global challenges brought about by increased gun violence. Gun violence has drained many public health systems, endangers human rights, and threatens many nations' homeland and national security. The Global Gun Epidemic is a must read for anyone on either side of the gun violence debate.


The Global Gun Epidemic is a book which both stimulates and raises awareness of issues which popular media will not often make mention of. Issues raised in the book are tackled, as introduced by the authors in the Preference, using a public health perspective. This makes the publication more personal and brings the issues closer to our hearts in contrast to many works on the topic which tackle the Global Arms Trade using a more distant, political/economic angle often detached from the gruesome realities of both illicit and legal gun trades. Having said this, the book is in no way without merit or academic indulgence. Both authors are University professors with a solid background of the subject area. The style of writing is clear and easy to read and crosses the boundary many academic books fail to cross, making it accessible to all readers. It does at the same time remain academic and factual with a large amount of referencing and evidence of very substantial research.

Throughout the book the reader is immersed into the world of shocking statistics such as the fact that 40% of US households possess at least one firearm or that out of 200,000 gun-related (non-millitary) deaths every year, 30,000 occur in the USA. These numbers are not only important in shocking the reader into realising the scale of the problems, but also to entice him into reading on, as issues and problems related to gun trade are discussed in-depth.

The publication is well structured and methodically analyses the causalities, of what is labelled by the authors 'epidemic', that is the global arms trade. The USA is highlighted throughout the book as an example of an industrialised state which contributes more than its share to the astonishing amounts of small arms being moved around the globe. The authors make a point of showing that through a complex chain that almost all illicit firearms start their life as a legal export eventually landing in the hands of criminals, human rights abusers in conflict zones and other undesirables.

The book has a two-fold purpose, firstly serving as a valuable tool for raising awareness of issues, which are by standards of most governments and media organisations considered to be highly taboo. Secondly it is an excellent overview and reference source for researchers who often find it hard to source published material on the subject. Understandably governments and arms manufacturers are not very enthusiastic about information which links shortcomings in their system to murderers and genocides. This makes research in the area all the more difficult and any publication all the more valuable. The book not only analyses the topic but also serves as a starting point for a deeper insight into the subject. Included is a well thought out list of 130 references and numerous statistics, which are helpful for seeking out deeper information on specific aspects of this area.

As an interesting addition the book highlights movements and organisations struggling to battle the arms trade and lists numerous organisations and their efforts. The book discusses some solutions to the problems discussed. It successfully shows the uphill struggle and barriers met, while attempting to change established government policies and the economical giants that are arms manufacturers.

While tackling a vast subject, the book inevitably stumbles upon some hurdles. Although it does offer some solutions their number is by far outweighed by discussion of problems. It does offer an in-depth insight into the vast web of interlinking chains that form the arms trade but shows few ways of limiting or regulating them more effectively. More worryingly it shows the scale of the problem to be so huge that the reader is left with a sense of hopelessness, even having read about the glimmer of hope that is the much promoted International Action Network on Small Arms.

Having said the above, as mentioned earlier this work is very important to the field and any research made publicly available in this little written about area is welcome, especially when it is written in an easy to understand fashion making it much more accessible to a wider audience. It offers a good insight and an overall picture of the subject area and is useful for both academics and those with a general interest.

Wojciech Domanski

January 2007

Community Preparedness and Response to Terrorism

Edition: 1st

Authors: Edited by Gerald R Ledlow, James A Johnson & Walter J Jones

ISBN: 0275983668

Publishers: Praeger , Greenwood Publishing Group

Price £125, set of 3

Publication Date: 3/30/2005

Publisher’s Description:

What can we do to protect ourselves from a terrorist attack, and how can communities respond most effectively if the unthinkable should happen?  The next large-scale terrorist attack on the United States could be carried out using any number of agents and delivery methods, including anthrax, smallpox, the water system, the agriculture industry; threats to bridges, tunnels, trains, airlines, and other transportation systems; suicide bombings in crowded cities, convention centers, and shopping malls; the possibilities are many, but not endless.  Local preparation is critical. Until now, scant attention has been paid to the role of communities in preparing for and responding to terrorism. This invaluable set covers chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive scenarios.  Throughout, the focus is on community preparedness and response. Volume I, The Terrorist Threat and Community Response, focuses on local, state, regional and federal coordination of efforts and interaction.  Volume II, The Role of Community Organizations and Business, includes chapters on the public health system, counterterrorism training, cyberterrorism, negotiating with terrorists, nonprofit organizations, and schools.  Volume III, Communication and the Media, addresses the role of the media in alerting the public to a terrorist attack, and the need to prevent terrorists from using public information against the very citizens the media is trying to serve in times of crisis.

Previous Review

Terrorism is perceived as a social disease to which all populations are susceptible. Thus this three-volume work makes a cogent, sober argument that community preparedness on many levels is required to manage terrorist attacks, whether the assaults be biomedical in nature or involve bombing or communication systems. The authors clearly convince readers that the consequences of lack of preparation would be horrible....The authors argue that terrorism is an act of communication, and that it is only through competent communication that terrorism can be managed. This three-volume work is scholarly, well documented, rich in resources, and straightforward. It also conveys a sense of foreboding as it analyzes in detail how terrorists cause disruption, drain resources, grab attention through the media, and generate profit. This work is meant to generate not only thoughtful reflection but an action plan within each local community. Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above; general readers. Choice December 2005

Author Information:

JAMES A. JOHNSON is Professor of Health Sciences at Central Michigan University. He has published nine books on a wide range of health-related topics. He is actively involved in international health development, including work with the World Health Organization.

GERALD R. LEDLOW is Associate Professor and Director of the Doctor of Health Administration Program at Central Michigan University and former U.S. Army Medical Logistics Officer in the Medical Service Corps. In the 1990s he directed managed care for Military Health Systems.

MARK A. CWIEK is Professor of Health Sciences at Central Michigan University. He has served as president and CEO of hospitals in Michigan and Illinois and he has led a Physician Hospital Organization.

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Murder 101 Homicide and its Investigation

Edition: 1st

Author: Robert L Snow

ISBN: 027598432x


Price £25.99

Publication Date: 30 July 2005

Description: Of all crimes, murder fascinates the public more than any other. While considered a detestable act, for which society reserves its severest punishments, homicide still captivates the American public. But the way homicide and its investigation are depicted in our media fail to capture just how murders get solved. Here, Snow takes us on a tour of murder, its investigation, and its prosecution from the perspective of a seasoned homicide detective. From the commission of the crime to the collection of evidence, examination of the crime scene, roundup of suspects, interrogation, and resolution, he leads readers from the scene to the courtroom, stopping along the way to consider all the elements that go into a murder investigation. He considers the culprits, the motives, the victims and their families, and offers readers a glimpse into the actual techniques and methods used to solve real crimes. This volume will fascinate and inform anyone interested in knowing the truth behind the scene of the crime of murder. Through the use of real-life cases of actual murders, Snow captures the intricacies of solving murders of all sorts. From domestic or intimate partner murders to cold cases and sexually based murders, police must approach homicide cases very carefully so that successful prosecution can eventually take place. Snow shows that there is much that can be learned from the crime scene, the body, the evidence, and the witnesses in terms of identifying suspects and motives for murder. He considers all aspects of the murder case and illustrates how careful police work can lead to the capture of the right suspect in any type of homicide. In addition, he looks at the victims themselves and the aftermath of their murders for their families and friends, who must cope with the violent loss of their loved ones. What emerges from these pages is a truer picture of the investigation of this most violent crime.


The given description of this book explains fully the content and nature of it perfectly. The first chapter of the book entitled ‘Murder In America’ begins with a brutal explanation and visual description of various past murders that have happened there. There are also some very interesting statistics in relation to the topic such as the fact that for 71% of the children who are killed in America - the perpetrators are family members.  In this chapter the author introduces himself and through his experience in investigating crime instils a confidence in the material of which he is writing.  The notes, bibliography and appendices at the back of the book further prove the extent of the research that was undertaken in the writing and completion of this book.

Almost every chapter begins with a case study relevant to that particular chapter.  The cases given are as interesting as they are despicable and complex.  They usually explain the process of the investigation, from the murder, police involvement, and finally the conclusion.  The case studies, although perhaps considered to be an introduction seemed disjointed within the context of the rest of the chapter.  With case-studies seemingly standing apart from the rest of the chapter, it gave them less relevance than perhaps they were.  I feel that if the case studies had been more integral to the chapter, it may have made the book flow more easily.

The absolute wealth of information and facts within this book were both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. On many occasions throughout the book I had to read parts of it more than once to fully absorb the information given within it. This was particularly applicable in the more scientific areas.  It would be a very strenuous task to read this book from cover to cover in one sitting, due to the intricate details and the broad range of information. This is not a condemnation, but a compliment to the book.

Personally, the most interesting elements of this book were details about CODIS, the American equivalent of the British DNA Database, and its role in crime-solving with a case-study to demonstrate its effectiveness.

Being a forensic science graduate, the chapter, which I most enjoyed, was Chapter 2, entitled "the crime scene." This chapter questioned every element of the crime scene and how it is processed from when the first officer arrives, to when the homicide detective finally leaves the scene.  It was in Chapter 4 however “physical evidence of murder” which held my favourite quote, and which I feel sums up the key element of a homicide investigation, this is "wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him...."

As previously discussed, the absolute abundance of knowledge that this book contains relating to a homicide investigation is excellent.  The book throws up question after question on the investigation process, from the position a body is found and the story that tells, to the best way to interrogate a suspect and to the best technique to answering questions whilst on the witness stand in court.  This is a detailed, accurate and at the same time very human journey and insight of a homicide investigator which was both a privilege to read and review.

Marie Meehan. 19.02.2007

Homicide By The Rich and Famous

Author: Gini Graham Scott

ISBN: 0275983463

Publishers: Westport

Price £22.99

Publication Date: 30 march 2005

Endorsement From Katherine Ramsland,
Professor of Forensic Psychology, DeSales University
author of The Criminal Mind and Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers: Dr. Scott provides an organized, accessible collection of some of the most intriguing crime stories of elite American culture. Without resorting to sensational reporting, she nevertheless has penned a page-turner.

Endorsement From Marvin J. Wolf,
author of Perfect Crimes: An unsparing examination of the power of wealth and fame over justice that roasts American values over a brilliant flame of indignation.

Endorsement From Peter Dunbar, Deputy Chief,
Oakland Police Department: Ms. Scott's book demonstrates that homicides are not just confined to the inner city or gang violence. No one is immune from this deadly violence or its consequences. It is often good "old fashioned police work" that brings these cases to justice.

Endorsement From Alma H. Bond, Ph.D.,
Psychoanalyst, faculty of Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) and Writers School
author of The Deadly Jigsaw Puzzle and Murder on the Streetcar: Homicide by the Rich and Famous is an exciting read. Gini Scott is an excellent researcher...Reading this book will change people's reactions to crime news forever.

Description: Many people express shock and horror when they hear of a wealthy or famous person killing another person. As a society, we seem to expect the rich and famous to behave better, to commit fewer crimes, to be immune to the passions that inspire other, less prominent people to kill. After all, the rich and famous have everything--why would they need to murder? But the rich and famous kill for the very same reasons other do: love, power, money, jealousy, greed, revenge, and rage. Here, Scott takes us on a tour of murders committed by the rich and famous during the last century, looking at the motives, the responses of the community and local law enforcement, the media, and the outcomes. She argues that the rich and famous may kill for the same reasons as others, but they receive vastly different treatment and are often able to get away with murder. Homicide by the rich and famous is not new in this country, nor is fascination with the crimes committed by our most revered citizens. But being among the upper echelon of society does afford such suspects with a greater ability to escape punishment. They have greater access to better representation, they have the means to flee the country, they have influential friends in high places willing to put themselves on the line, and they are generally treated better by law enforcement and the criminal justice system. This book profiles the many ways in which homicides committed by the rich and famous are similar to other murders in their motives, but differ from those committed by everyday citizens in their outcomes. Scott provides readers with a showcase of crimes that will infuriate and fascinate readers.

Table of Contents:

·                     Introduction

·                     A Matter of Motive

·                     What's the Method?

·                     Hiring Help

·                     The Big Cover Up

·                     Family, Friends, and High Places

·                     The Power of the Press, Personality and Politics

·                     Legal Power?

·                     When Rich Kids Kill

·                     Losing It

·                     Conclusion

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The Racist Murder of Stephen Lawrence Media Performance and Public Transformation

Author: Simon Cottle

ISBN: 0-275-97941-5

Publishers: Westport

Price £39.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 30th Oct 2004

There have been many racially motivated murders in Britain in recent years that have received little media attention or public expressions of concern. The 1993 murder of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence, a black student, proved to be very different. Through time and growing media interest, the name of Stephen Lawrence became a potent symbol and catalyst for change. This particular killing prompted widespread re-examination of questions of (in)justice, cultural identity, and continuing racism in British society, and it eventually initiated processes of institutional reflexivity, including government policies targeting institutional racism within Britain's most powerful organizations of state and civil society. This book examines the media's role in "performing" the Stephen Lawrence case over the ten-year period since Lawrence's murder.

Developing the framework of "mediatized public crisis," this book carefully examines how and why the British and international media turned the Stephen Lawrence case into a watershed moment with potentially transformative effects. To understand this, we need to attend to the expressive possibilities of symbols and journalism forms, the dynamics and contingencies that inhere within both politics and narrative, as well as the strategic interventions of involved interests and identities. This important book provides new insights into how and why the media report and, occasionally, "perform" issues of "race" in ways that can unleash moral forces for social change. Includes many newspaper images from the British press; a list of racially motivated murders from 1970 to 2003; a detailed chronology of the Stephen Lawrence case; and the Macpherson recommendations and social reforms.

Table of Contents:

List of Tables and Figures

·                     Preface

·                     Thesis Events

·                     Theory

·                     Mapping

·                     Breach

·                     Crisis

·                     Redress

·                     Reintegration/Schism

·                     Ebbing/Revivification

·                     Conclusion

·                     Postscript

·                     Appendix 1: Racially Motivated Murders, 1970-2003

·                     Appendix 2: Chronology of Stephen Lawrence Case

·                     Appendix 3: Average Net Circulation of U.K. Newspapers, 1993-2003

·                     Appendix 4: Macpherson Recommendations and Social Reforms

·                     References

Boys Among Men, Trying and Sentencing Juveniles as Adults

Author: David L Myers

ISBN: 0275982548

Publishers: Westport

Price £22.99

Publication Date: 30th June 2005

Endorsement From Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D.,
Director of Systems Research
National Center for Juvenile Justice: Myers has documented the historical, social, and political forces that molded the U.S. justice system's approach to the transfer of juveniles to the criminal justice system....This skillful organization of the history and science of juvenile transfer should give those new to the topic a clear understanding of the issue, while at the same time raising the quality of the debate for those who have been involved in it for years.

Description: Images of youngsters in handcuffs and prison uniforms have become common on the nightly news in the United States. As America's fascination with crime and justice has grown, so has attention to the ways in which youthful offenders are charged, tried, and sentenced. While they may have been once viewed as misguided youth, more and more juveniles are being charged as adults and sentenced to adult prisons. Myers questions whether doing so is an effective deterrent for young offenders, if rehabilitation is out of the question, and if youth and society are better served by sending children away to adult prisons rather juvenile detention facilities. These questions and others are addressed in this careful analysis of the history and evolution of transfer laws that are increasingly prevalent throughout the United States. The the move toward charging juvenile delinquents as adult criminals initially coincided with an increase in violent crimes committed by youthful offenders. However, as such policies have grown and expanded, the methods by which youth are formally treated as adults in the criminal justice system have changed. Here, Myers examines the demographic, legal, criminal, and social characteristics of those youth who are waived to adult courts, assessing the nature, use, and effectiveness of punishment and rehabilitation efforts in modern juvenile and criminal justice systems. He concludes that as long as separate juvenile and adult justice systems are maintained, there will be a desire and perceived need for transferring some youth to adult court. However, he suggests that such transfers should be facilitated on a much more limited basis, while greater resources and funding for prevention and early intervention should be implemented to prevent youth from offending in the first place. This controversial topic receives a thorough accounting in this volume, which will open readers' eyes to the realities of juvenile delinquency and its treatment by the criminal justice system.

Table of Contents:

·                     Acknowledgments

·                     Series Foreword

·                     Adult Crime, Adult Time

·                     Separating the Men from the Boys

·                     Transformation to Criminal

·                     Who Gets Transferred?

·                     What Happens in Adult Court?

·                     Prospects for Punishment and Rehabilitation

·                     General and Specific Deterrence

·                     The Rise and Fall of "Adult Crime, Adult Time"

·                     References

·                     Index

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Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime Scene Messages.


Author: By Dirk C. Gibson.

ISBN: 0-267-98360-9

Publishers: Praeger Publishers

Price £22:99. Hardcover

Publication Date: October 2004

Publishers Description:

Serial killers come from different backgrounds, attain different levels of education, and hold various types of jobs. However, many serial killers do have at least one thing in common: the desire to communicate regarding their crimes. Killers from Jack the Ripper to the Son of Sam often provide clues to their identities, their motives--even their future targets--through crime scene notes, letters to the media, calls to police, messages scrawled on victims, and, increasingly, email and other technology. Here, Gibson takes a look at ten notorious serial killers, their crimes, their victims, and their communications to uncover the hidden clues into the minds of these unusual and dangerous people.

What compels a serial killer to leave a crime scene message or to call the police to discuss their crimes? What are the purposes of the messages themselves? What do they say about the individuals? How can investigators use such communications to track down these elusive killers? How do killers use these communications to attract new victims? Through a careful examination of messages from such killers as the D.C. Snipers, the BTK Killer, the Zodiac Killer, Jack the Ripper, the Black Dahlia Avenger and others, Gibson reveals aspects of their communications that give us a window into the psyches of these criminals.

Table of Contents:



List of Illustrations


The Son of Sam

The DC Sniper

The Mad Butcher

The Unabomber

The Zodiac

The BTK Strangler

John Robinson Sr.

Jack the Ripper

William Heirens

The Black Dahlia Avenger


Selected Bibliography


Review by Andy Day

Communication by serial killers is the basic concept behind this book, and in it the author discusses his research into the communication behaviour of ten serial murderers, from Jack the Ripper in 1888 to the D.C. Sniper case in 2002.

In each of the cases researched, the murderer, (five later apprehended, five never caught), communicated in some way, either with the authorities, the media, or the victim’s family.

As the author, (who’s background is in speech communication and mass communication, with doctoral training in the science of history), states "the primary purpose of this book is simple.  It is to enhance our understanding of the communication of serial killers, and for the purposes of this study, serial murder is defined as repetitive homicide with a separation of time".

Despite the wide variety of the cases investigated, the author finds certain recurrent communication tendencies throughout.

The ways in which serial killers have communicated in the ten case studies are varied in the extreme, from leaving tarot cards, (in particular the death card), at murder scenes, to the carving of letters on the body of a victim, and from writing on a wall at a scene in blood, lipstick, chalk etc. to letters and telephone calls to the Police, the media, priests and in some cases the victims family.

In each of the case studies, the book takes the reader through a brief history of each victim, and the location and circumstances, as far as they are known, of the murder.  The communication used in each case is described, discussed and analysed.  In some cases the communication progresses as the murderer becomes bolder, frustrated, smugger, patronising, arrogant or abusive.

The possible reasons for the communication are also examined.  Some are attempts at extortion, some to mislead the Police, some convey the killers contempt for authority or society, some are intended to terrify and horrify, and some are vindictive and vengeful. Others are left or sent as deliberate clues.

All of the communications, (be they letters, telephone calls etc.), some in code, are printed in the book, with errors, spelling mistakes etc. retained.  Several of the letters are illustrated, however, I am pleased to state that no ‘handwriting experts’ views are included in this book.

The author does however, in some of the cases, state the interesting and informative views of Psychiatrists, psychological profilers, FBI profilers, and the President of the Violent Crimes Institute.

The book contains a very interesting chapter on a relatively new way of communication, (the Internet), as used by a serial murderer, who started killing in 1984.  E mail communications purportedly from his victims to their friends and family, were used in an effort to persuade them that they were fit and well and on an extended holiday, or that they had simply decided to move away and make ‘a fresh start’.

For many serial killers, it is apparently not enough to murder a number of innocent persons. For a large number of these offenders, there is a need to communicate during and after the murders. Each of the repeat murderers studied, felt the necessity to share parts of their homicidal experience with someone, in some fashion, during, and or after the fact.

The final chapter of the book attempts to offer some conclusions about this diverse and consistent communicative conduct.

Does the author achieve the ‘primary purpose of his book’?  - To enhance our understanding of the communication of serial killers.  In my view he does, by giving the reader an insight into the mindset of the various, individual serial killers that are studied in this interesting and informative book.

Andy Day.  2005.

Women and Men Police Officers; Status, Gender and Personality 


Gwendolyn L Gerber

ISBN: 0-275-96749-2

Publishers: Westport, CT and Oxford (Praeger)

Price £52.99 

Publication Date: 2001

 This book seeks to challenge the established but outdated view that police behaviour and policing styles are inextricably predicated on the sex and gender of the individual officer.  Instead, Gerber asserts that it is the relative status of an individual officer that dictates perceptions of professional competency.  Utilising evidence gathered from questionnaires and interviews conducted with members of the New York City Police she destroys the stereotypical assumption that male officers are generally perceived to be more competent in practice than female officers because of their masculinity.  She confirms that while male assertiveness and ‘instrumental personality traits’ match public expectations of competent and effective policing, women officers, despite being as equally competent in practice, tend to be seen as less effective because of their more accommodating and submissive feminine mores.  Thus, it is not their respective gender stereotypes that create this perception, but the fact that male officers typically enjoy a ‘higher status’ role than their female counterparts publicly indicating they are more competent professionals.  Conversely, in a masculine orientated force women are expected to adopt a low status role and so appear less competent.

Methodologically, Gerber adopts the ‘status characteristic theory’ to identify the personality and gender dynamics within a number of operational police pairings or partnerships working as crews in the New York City Police.  She states that this is the first time police personalities have been examined in the same way as other professions as opposed to focusing on the police as a unique body.  Her sample comprised 154 such pairs from 75 precincts of which 66 were both male, 59 mixed male and a female, and 29 all female.  Questionnaires were distributed with a 90% response rate and augmented by supervisor questionnaires to confirm demographic information and 37 face-to-face interviews, although only two of these were with all women crews.  In mixed teams, the male officer was automatically identified as the ‘higher status role’ even where his female partner was more senior or qualified; where the officers were of the same sex the senior partner was deemed to hold higher status, where both were of equal rank the officer with more education was identified as having higher status.  If education experience was equal, the older officer was designated as such.  This automatic association of male officers with high status appears rather simplistic, as it assumes that this is always in fact the case.  It can also be somewhat contradictory and confusing where the author makes reference, for example, to the low status woman in a male female relationship, who has more seniority than her male partner (p55).  

Gerber’s results concluded, perhaps unsurprisingly, that all male teams have a much higher status profile than all female teams and that they are also more likely to be  confrontational and aggressive.  She confirms that it is individual status rather than inherent gender differences that account for this, because if status was ignored, the results would appear to support public perceptions that male officers are the more competent.  She also asserts that “a woman who works with a male partner can never be openly acknowledged as the leader in the partnership” (p61) which again seems a rather absolutist and sweeping generalization.  Gerber suggests (chapters 4 and 5) that as women are of lower status the only way they have of expressing any influence is through their more negative feminine trait of  ‘verbal aggression’ i.e. nagging or complaining. Gerber claims that in a mixed pairing, where the woman is the more senior but automatically of lower status, she will need to resort to verbal aggression if she is to have any influence and her use of such verbal aggression may in fact enhance her male partner’s feeling of competence.  Predictably, if  such verbal aggression was expressed by men it would be seen as a sign of weakness by their supervisors.  Thus verbal aggression can be an effective means of having opinions heard, gaining influence and moving up through the ranks.  Is this really how our current female Chief Constables have secured their positions?  By nagging and complaining?  It may be the case in New York (?) but many female senior officers this side of the pond would surely find such conclusions patronising. 

Unsurprisingly too, Gerber found (chapter 6) that in same sex partnerships one officer will inevitably assume the other gender’s traits so that in an all male pairing one will become ‘feminised’ and follow the more experienced male, and in all female pairs one will become more dominant and masculinized.  However, for the former low status male who will still retain his ‘ideal police officer’ masculine traits the consequences of such gender violation are less severe.  But in violating her feminine gender norms the higher status masculinized female is not only likely to be viewed less favourably by her supervisors, but her team will also be regarded as less competent overall.  Gerber identifies a tension here in that a high status female will self-evaluate her personality when manifesting masculine traits as more desirable and influential, whereas her supervisor will regard her less favourably.  For a low status male such gender factors are not salient in his self-evaluation and do not have the same impact or effect.  Supervisors enforce gender norms by rewarding gender normative behaviour but this can cause problems for both sexes fostering resentment and stress.

Contrary to accepted opinion Gerber’s results indicate that increased status does not lead to greater self-esteem (chapter 7).  While both sexes were found to have similar levels of self-esteem, high status men in all male partnerships reported the lowest self-esteem.  The author surmises that this is possibly because to achieve seniority requires an increased level of undesirable dominating traits and decreased levels of desirable traits.  The results also revealed the possibility of such individuals finding it hard to work with women, though again this should not be something of a surprise to too many.  The women generally had no problems of global self-esteem though did regard themselves as less competent in dealing with specific police tasks.  The author also looked to see whether a pattern of character traits was evident within individual personalities and found that an individual’s status and the traits themselves – domination, submission, verbal aggression, confrontation etc., differed and changed according to the context of the operational situation the officer found herself in.  Again hardly an earth shattering conclusion.

The utility of this thesis for practitioners according to Gerber, is that her results demonstrate that status differences between the sexes not only reinforces gender stereotypes in the eyes of the public and observers, but more importantly accounts for the personality traits attributed to the actual individuals themselves (p.136).  These ‘status-related personality traits’ which have always been presumed to be gender specific (instrumental-expressive; dominance-submission; confrontational-verbal aggression) are present in two dimensions within both sexes – a dominating-expressive dimension related to power and an instrumental-submissive dimension related to self-efficacy in terms of being able to do the job.  And that as regards self-esteem it is these ‘status-related personality traits’ that are more significant than the individual status of the officer herself.  While women police officers may appear to have different personality traits from men, it is only because of their lower status, not their gender; and both have exceptionally high levels of instrumental traits such as decisiveness and assertiveness - most probably Gerber surmises because they need these qualities to enforce the law! (p.141).  She concludes that the most important aspect of her project is the revelation that ‘police officers are not a homogenous identity’ (p.154).  If this is the most significant point she can offer then it would appear that the US academic community has little understanding of the police in general and the New York City Police in particular.  Surely the world, and academic research, has moved on?  Unlike Maria Silvestri’s recent book Women in Charge, which demonstrates a perceptive knowledge and understanding of gender and ‘status’ dynamics in the British Police; this book states the obvious (and the common-sensical) rather too often.  While empirically it may be unimpeachable, it does not really offer anything more than supervisors need to be able to identify ‘what kinds of behaviours and personality traits will enable men and women to be more effective in their work’ and that ‘police organizations need to re-examine their expectations involving gender’ and make them more ‘relevant to a world that includes female officers, as well as men.’(p.153).  While management training should always look forward and take into account new perspectives and research findings Gerber appears to be implying that police supervisors are not even familiar with the most basic principles of personnel management let alone ongoing gender awareness training and evaluation.  It would be very interesting to conduct a similar comparative exercise with, for example, the Metropolitan Police. 

 Kim Stevenson

Battlefield Chicago, The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention

Author: Frank Kusch

ISBN: 027598138x

Publishers: Westport, CT, and Oxford (Greenwood Publishing Group)

Price £25.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 2004

Did the police lose control of themselves in dealing with demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention? Or were they simply men who saw themselves as protecting their city from the forces of revolution?  Kusch contends that Chicago's police were more than unthinking "thugs," that they had, in effect, become a counterculture, even more so than the people they ended up attacking. From Polish and Irish working class backgrounds, these men felt they represented a time gone by, a different way of life. The world they found themselves in during August of 1968 was an almost alien environment.  Analysing interviews of men who were on the streets and examining in-depth their actions and the reasons behind them, Kusch challenges traditional thinking on this pivotal event.

As television cameras rolled, and flash bulbs popped, young middle-class college kids were attacked by Chicago's finest.  For four days, police chased, bludgeoned, and kicked, not only the protesters, but innocent onlookers and dozens of media representatives.  Going beyond stereotypes and addressing what went on behind the cameras, Kusch challenges the assumptions that the police rioted and that the violence was limited to a handful of individuals.  These officers are revealed as real men with families, lives, and fears.  It was these fears-as much as their hatred of the antiwar movement and the people in it-that led to the violent showdown.  This work tackles a turbulent period when presentation was key for all the major players: the protesters, the media, and the police themselves.


"Frank Kusch's compelling account of the clash between Mayor Richard Daley's men in blue and anti­war rebels reveals why the 1960s was such a painful era for many Americans. Chicago, he shows, was the angry heart of a nation riddled with hatreds rooted in class, race, and cultural values. Other historians have sympathetically explored the motives and actions of young protestors. Kusch, to his great credit, allows 'the pigs' to speak up for themselves." Michael Kazin,  co-author of America Divided, The Civil War of the 1960s.

"Frank Kusch has provided a decisive account of the hurly-burly surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  Kusch traces the turbulent trajectory of the 1960s, interweaves it with Chicago's sociopolitical history, and then places us in the eye of the storm beside the policemen, protesters and politicians who made history that summer. Kusch's countless interviews with the officers who were there help provide a harrowing on-the-ground account of the disorder of convention week and the human tragedy it truly was. A clear and authoritative look at a complicated subject and a confusing time." Douglas Brinkley University of New Orleans author of Tour of Duty, John Kerry and the Vietnam War

"With informed and passionate first person accounts from countless police, Frank Kusch illuminates the cultural and political wars that engulfed Chicago in 1968. This book complicates in important new ways our understanding of one of the most important clashes of the 1960s."  William H. Chafe Duke University,  author of The Unfinished Journey; America Since WWII

From the Author’s Preface

Few periods in American history engender hyperbole like the 1960s. Although those years were indeed turbulent, they actually pale when compared with much of the nation's past.  Arguably, the revolutionary era, the opening of the West, the scourge of slavery, the crisis of civil war, the tribulations of Reconstruction, two world wars, a crippling economic depres­sion, and a 1950s ensconced in cold war and civil rights all trump the decade in turmoil.

The 1960s, however, remain an endless source of fascination for baby boomers and those born after the culmination of America's long war in Vietnam.  In some circles, the years have reached almost mythical proportions.  Elucidating this enduring attraction is that, unlike much of the aforementioned past, the 1960s are sexy.  The years charm with Black Power, sexual revolution, unconstrained youth, expansive rhetoric, and unabashed self-expression.  Perhaps one of the rea­sons intrigue holds fast is that the era feeds the mind's attraction to spectacle while assuaging its desire for deeper meaning.

Beyond the fete of psychedelic drugs and free love, however, was the war in Vietnam and the war at home.  Consequently, although many are attracted to the era, the loss of 58,000 young Americans in a fruitless war remains a sobering tact.  An academic acquaintance once admitted that the reason he avoids teaching any course on the 1960s is that he finds the decade "distasteful." It is clear, however, that the subject, to him and others, goes beyond mere unpleasantness but borders on the taboo.  Although the scholar in question knew someone who died in Vietnam, he has not been able to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  When traveling to the nation's capital, he actively avoids the granite walls that rest in the shadow of Lincoln's memorial.  He believes a visit would constitute a trespass.

The sixties are unfinished business.  Whatever dreams or hopes were imagined during John Fitzgerald Kennedy's stirring 1961 inaugural address fragmented in the immediate years following his death on a Dallas street.  His successor's attempt to outrun the ghosts of the New Frontier with an even more ambitious Great Society ended in discontent at home and tragedy in Vietnam.  Although some periods were indeed more turbulent in American history, the 1960s cast a pall over those who remember all too well the war and the turmoil that defined the era, the dashed hopes, and a youthful idealism that appeared truncated as the cur­tain closed on the decade.

Battleground Chicago is an effort to explain the breach called the sixties, when optimism and idealism collided with angst and warfare, when the World War lI generation clashed with its rebellious offspring.  This book revisits the decade's pinnacle year, 1968, and the protest riots that occurred during the Democratic National Convention that August.  Unlike previous studies, however, this book focuses primarily on those whom many commentators have blamed for causing much of the turmoil: members of the Chicago Police Department.  By turning its lens on the men who wore the uniform that fateful spring and summer, and the city they called home, this study hopes to move beyond stereotypical images of Irish, Italian, and Polish cops, "storm troopers" with cigar butts between their teeth, beating hippies with batons, spraying mace with abandonment.  It ventures past the construct of "pigs" that went "berserk" on the streets of Chicago and places their actions into the context of the time and the culture from which they emerged.  As such, the book does not limit its scope to that summer alone, but examines events leading to that dramatic showdown in the Windy City.  It strives to see these officers as they saw themselves-men with families, mortgages, and lives-from the perspective of that turbulent time.  It is an effort not to excuse police behaviour but to explain one of the most legendary clashes of the 1960s, one marred by hyperbole and myth concerning the actions of the Chicago police.  In doing so, this book endeavours not only to offer a more accurate portrayal of convention week, but of a paradoxical decade.  This reconstruction of events was gleaned in part from U.S. government and city of Chicago investigations, interviews with eighty former officers, print and televised media accounts, police reports, and manuscript sources.

"Internet Law Book Reviews" Copyright Rob Jerrard