Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

The FBI is crowdsourcing its search for an alleged sexual predator, known only as John Doe 27 (pictured below), and they’ve posted enhanced images from an incriminating video in the hopes that someone can identify the suspect or the setting in which the video was taken.

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John Doe 27, wanted by the FBI

According to the FBI’s Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) web site:

Law enforcement officials are seeking information which will lead to the identification of an unknown individual known as John Doe 27. It is alleged that he may be involved with child exploitation and the sexual abuse of a minor. Images of this person were found on the Internet. John Doe 27 is described as a White male, likely between the ages of 40 and 50, with brown hair, graying sideburns, and a bald spot. He wears glasses and a ring on the ring finger of his right hand. Based on audio taken from video files associated with this individual, it appears as though he speaks with a southern accent and refers to himself as “Jimmy”. Additional images relevant to the investigation include a plaid chair and the inside of a residence which may be recognized by someone who knows the subject or the victim.

If you have any information, contact the FBI online at the FBI Tips and Public Leads page, or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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There’s little doubt that the police have a tough job to do. Unfortunately, sometimes that includes using deadly force in chaotic, dynamic, and ambiguous circumstances.  The accidental shooting in Times Square this past weekend of two innocent bystanders by police points up the complexities and dangers of using firearms during street encounters.

Photo courtesy of nesoiam

Photo courtesy of nesoiam

But, what do we really know about police shootings on a national scale? Does anyone track them, and what might those numbers tell us?

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If you’re an academic, student, or government staffer, you likely have access to some amazing professional databases chock full of articles you can consult when doing research or crafting criminal justice policies or legislation.

In the real world, we don’t have easy access to those types of information tools.

It’s not that we don’t need such tools – we do.  Too often, though, we’re stuck relying on media outlets to report information accurately (which they frequently don’t do) on criminal justice topics.  And, when it comes time to vote or debate on these topics, we need facts and figures, not anecdotes or sensationalized news stories rife with bias and inaccuracies.

So, here’s a list of 10 free, high-quality sources of data and research on a wide variety of criminal justice topics that offer anyone the chance to do their own independent research.

1. National Criminal Justice Reference Service  – An information source sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, this site has a wide range of current research articles on courts, corrections, policing, victims issues, and other areas. Not all articles are available as full text, but many are.

2. Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) – This is the FBI’s consolidation of crime information reported by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The data doesn’t cover all types of crime, and it can seem somewhat incomplete as a result. If you want to know, though, how many sexual assaults, robberies, or other serious offenses were reported to the police in a given year, however, you can quickly have that information at your fingertips.

3. Bureau of Justice Statistics – According to their website, their mission is “[t]o collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal, state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded.”  They produce one of the important counterparts to the UCR above, the National Crime Victim Survey.

4. National Crime Victim Survey – This is the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ report that uncovers what’s referred to as “the dark figure of crime.” These are offenses that are never reported to authorities, and therefore don’t show up in the Uniform Crime Reports. The BJS surveys a random sampling of households in the U.S. to gather this data, as opposed to relying on official law enforcement reports. The NCVS, therefore, provides a good counterpoint to the FBI’s dataset when investigating the prevalence – both reported and unreported – of a given type of crime.

5. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) – According to their website, the NIJ “is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. NIJ provides objective and independent knowledge and tools to reduce crime and promote justice, particularly at the state and local levels.” One of their aims is to use “Translational Criminology” as a way to bring research to bear on the real-world problems of the criminal justice system. They have over 4,000 articles in their database, many of which cover practical aspects of criminal justice issues.

6. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – According to their website, “[t]he Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides national leadership, coordination, and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization. OJJDP supports states and communities in their efforts to develop and implement effective and coordinated prevention and intervention programs and to improve the juvenile justice system so that it protects public safety, holds offenders accountable, and provides treatment and rehabilitative services tailored to the needs of juveniles and their families.”  Their database covers an array of juvenile justice issues, from child abuse to victim issues, and includes information on research, programs, and funding sources.

7. National Center for State Courts – According to their site, “The National Center for State Courts is an independent, nonprofit court improvement organization founded at the urging of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren E. Burger.” Their article database covers a wide range of court-related topics, including adoption, judicial administration, election law, and social media.

8. Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies – This site is less about specific research, and more of a tool to identify further leads for information. Every department or agency operated by the federal government is listed, including all of those dedicated to criminal justice matters.

9. DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report – This page from the Department of Homeland Security is information “collected each business day as a summary of open-source published information concerning significant critical infrastructure issues.”  This isn’t research, per se, but it can be an interesting source of national-level information about threats to infrastructure from a wide variety of threats, both natural and man-made. There are some who use it as a way to identify stories for blog posts, for example, or as a source of leads for further research on issues not being covered in the mainstream press.

10. National Archive of Criminal Justice Data – This site is operated and maintained by the University of Michigan, and their mission is “to to facilitate research in criminal justice and criminology, through the preservation, enhancement, and sharing of computerized data resources; through the production of original research based on archived data; and through specialized training workshops in quantitative analysis of crime and justice data.”  In addition to research articles, they also provide access to datasets individuals can use to conduct their own analysis.

There are many other resources, and this is just a sampling of some of the more well known ones. What’s your favorite source of criminal justice info? Comment and share a link below.

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Last week, the FBI disclosed it had taken over and operated a child pornography bulletin board service  for two weeks in 2012 as part of an investigation into the site’s activities. They identified over 5,600 users of the site and, at this point, have conducted at least one raid in Washington state to gather further evidence as a result.

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The FBI reportedly obtained a judge’s approval to operate the site after they determined they couldn’t identify users just by accessing the site’s logs.  And, while it doesn’t appear the agents actively distributed child pornography, they did allow the board’s users to continue doing so.

According to an article posted on The Verge:

Over the course of two weeks, the [FBI] attempted to identify more than 5,600 users, responsible for sharing over 10,000 photos of children being abused. In total there were 24,000 posts on the site. The posts contained discussion related to pedophilia, including guides on how to avoid police detection by utilizing encryption and other tactics.

The board also reportedly had threads where users described how to lure and sexually harm children, including one user who wrote in reaction to an image of a girl being raped, “Jesus I would enjoy hurting that child.”

Sting operations are not a new idea, of course. They’re used to investigate many different types of crime, including drug trafficking, theft rings, and espionage. The difference here is that the sting operation didn’t just allow criminal behavior to continue, it also perpetuated the distribution of illegal images of children for those two weeks.

Some may feel – like the agents and the judge involved in this case did – that allowing images to be traded on the board was worthwhile because it potentially aided in identifying the perpetrators. What it also allowed, however, was the further sharing of images that are incredibly damaging to the children pictured, and those who love them.

According to one former victim whose images were shared over the internet in a different case:

“Every time they are downloaded, I am exploited again, my privacy is breached, and my life feels less and less safe,” she continued. “I will never be able to have control over who sees me raped as a child. It’s all out there for the world to see and it can never be removed from the internet.”

Which leads us to this week’s poll question. Should the government be allowed to perpetuate distribution of child pornography when doing so would aid an investigation?

Participate in this week’s Monday Poll and see the results!

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This week’s videos focus on the scourge of human trafficking, which is “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion” (Source: U.S. Department of State).

While hard and fast numbers are difficult to come by, due mainly to the secrecy involved in criminal enterprises like these, here are some stats:

  • Between 20-30 million people are forced to work as slaves worldwide
  • Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked across international borders each year to work as forced laborers or in the sex trade
  • Up to 50,000 individuals are trafficked into the U.S. each year (National Institute of Justice – PDF)
  • Approximately 100,000 children are involved in sex trafficking in the U.S. each year
  • Approximately 250,000 kids are at risk for entering the sex trade in the U.S. each year
  • Human trafficking generates over 32 billion dollars in illicit funds for criminal individuals and organizations annually

In other words, modern day slavery is alive and well around the world.

Background on human trafficking

Despite the enormous challenges involved, governments and individuals are taking action to combat all forms of human trafficking.  One innovative organization that’s battling domestic sex trafficking in the U.S. is Truckers Against Trafficking.  According to their website, this organization

recognizes that members of the trucking industry and individual truckers are invaluable in the fight against [human trafficking]. As the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, you are in a unique position to make a difference and close loopholes to traffickers who seek to exploit our transportation system for their personal gain. This site has been created to inform truckers and other travelers of the basic issues involved in human trafficking and a summary of ways you can help. We invite you to travel through this website and learn how you can join this worthy cause and save lives.

Their educational mission is carried out in part through the below video, which describes the extent of the trafficking problem and how truckers can help identify individuals who are recruiting victims or otherwise engaging in behavior related to human trafficking.

Truckers Against Trafficking training video

If you see what you think might be recruiting or trafficking behavior, take action. Call your local police, the FBI, or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 and report it.

Have a safe weekend.

It would be hard to believe anyone is unaware at this point of what’s happened in Boston, and many people have probably overdosed already on the 24-hour news coverage of the tragedy.  But, to be honest, I just didn’t want to post anything else today, or even pretend to ignore the impact this incident has had on the direct victims and our country as a whole.

So, here are four videos that capture a variety of perspectives on what happened in Boston this week:

The first video is a short AP clip that includes witness interviews and footage of the explosions.

Next are the President’s comments regarding this “act of terror.”

Here is the FBI video of the two “persons of interest.”

And finally, a tribute to the victims and First Responders.

Have a safe weekend.