Infographic: Civil Forfeiture – The Lack of Due Process

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Top 15 Worst Tourist Scams You Must Be Aware of This Summer

1. Smash and Grab Scam

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The Smash and Grab scam is an example of one of the more harrowing scams that a traveler can face. In some tourist districts within large cities, thieves will linger around intersections with lengthy stop lights. Once a car stops, they will come and rob drivers of their valuables, such as purses and jewelry. There are also times when they will smash the windows of the car in order to steal those possessions. To help prevent this, it’s important to lock your car doors after entering the car. This scam occurs in South American countries, as well as Malaysia and Hawaii at times.

2. Maradona/Fake Police Scam

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The Maradona scam, also known as the Fake Police scam, tends to involve a person walking up and whispering to you, typically about some sort of nefarious activity. It is at this moment that two or three men will come up and take out their police badges. Despite their seeming authenticity, those badges are fake and they will attempt to tell you that you are consorting with that man about something illegal, at which point they ask you to hand over your wallet and passport. The best way to safeguard against this scam is by simply refusing to give them what they are asking for, as they tend not to take the confrontation any further. The primary country in which this scam takes place is Romania, in the city of Bucharest.

3. Hot Dog Scam

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The Hot Dog scam starts with a man walking by you while eating a hot dog, actually a mustard packet in a bun, and “accidentally” squirting mustard all over you. The person will then offer his deepest apologies, all while his accomplice is stealing your belongings. If this happens to you, try not to be distracted by it and make sure not to drop your bags. This scam can happen in any airport within most countries.

4. Brass Ring Scam

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The way this scam works is that a random passerby will spot a brass ring near you and pick it up, saying that it is a gold ring and they will sell it to you for some absurd amount of money. All you have to do to avoid this is to understand that finding a gold ring on the ground is nigh on impossible. You will find this scam in Paris and other parts of France.

5. Gypsy Baby Toss Scam

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This scam takes the form of a woman sitting on the side of a busy street and throwing her baby at you while you walk by, despite the fact that it’s not actually a baby. While distracted, someone will come up and quickly pickpocket you. To avoid this, try keeping your wallets and valuables in a secure location. Although this can happen in many European countries, it exists mainly within Rome, Italy.

6. CD Scam

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The CD scam is a relatively recent one that takes place in the crowded streets of Times Square in New York City. Someone will come up to you and hand you their CD. Almost instantly, he will accuse you of not paying for it and a few of his friends will come around to make sure that you do. To protect yourself against this, try to avoid taking the CD or lay it on the ground if you do.

7. Found Wallet Scam

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This scam is particularly frequented on tourists within the city of Kiev, Ukraine. It involves a tourist walking down a city road and spotting a wallet on the ground. When the tourist picks up the wallet, the scammer will then come along and claim that you are attempting to steal his wallet, which is conveniently “missing” money. He will demand that you pay what you have stolen. To avoid this, make sure never to pick something up from the street, even if you think you are being kind by returning the item.

8. Beggar Scams

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There are a myriad of beggar scams to look out for, particularly in India and Africa. These scams involve people that seem poor begging for money or food. While doing so, someone may come along and pickpocket you or that person will hang around you until you’ve given them what they ask for. In order to stay away from trouble, give them a smile and quickly continue on your way.

9. Currency Exchange Scam

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When traveling anywhere, though mainly in European countries, it’s important to understand the exchange rate involved. This scam involves a business owner or taxi driver being handed a credit card, swiping it and giving back the change in US dollars, which will be conspicuously less than they should have given you. Try to always pay with the local currency that you’ve had converted at a bank.

10. Claims of Damage Scam

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The Claims of Damage scam is one that can be perpetrated by a hotel in nearly any country. Upon leaving from your stay, you will find that your credit card has been billed an outrageous sum. When questioning the hotel, they will provide the credit card agency with a list and photo of the damages, which can be very difficult to disprove. To avoid this, take pictures of the room on each day of your stay, complete with time stamp.

11. Security-Checkpoint Scam

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This scam, which tends to happen most often in Chinese and European airports, involves a tourist walking through a metal detector and placing his belongings on the conveyor belt. At that time, someone cuts in front of them and walks through the detector with metal in his pockets, with the tourists valuables still on the conveyor. His accomplice will then steal their belongings from the other side. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, never remove your eyes from what you’ve placed on the scanner.

12. Just Been Robbed Scam

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As happens in London and many European countries, a desperate man will come pleading to a tourist, saying that they have just been robbed of their wallet and passport, and will proceed to ask the tourist for any money they can spare. If this happens to you, simply agree to call their embassy in an attempt to secure a passport for them.

13. Forced Upgrade Scam

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Though the Forced Room Upgrade Scam can happen anywhere, look out for it in big cities. It involves a tourist arriving at a hotel, after which the front desk informs them that the room they booked is not currently available and they will need to upgrade, forcing them to pay more money. If at all possible, try to find somewhere else to stay if this happens to you.

14. Lube Job Scam

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This scam can be found in parts of Africa and involves a local bystander pointing out that something is wrong with your car, which does appear to be damaged. In actuality, the “damage” was placed on your car by that bystander in the hopes that they will lead you to a repair garage that will charge you extremely high prices for doing basically nothing, which will then be split between the pair of scammers. To avoid this, don’t automatically fix it unless you’re sure something is wrong.

15. No. 64 Scam

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This scam is only found in Rome, as it involves the famous tourists bus no. 64. Pickpockets will team up in a small group to cause a distraction and steal the valuables from unsuspecting tourists. When on this bus, make sure your belongings are extra secure.

The 28 Most Dangerous Prisons in America

While serving a prison sentence is not meant to be luxurious, some prisons are equipped with simple inmate privileges such as access to recreation fields, gyms, sports equipment and hearty meals. The prison lifestyle is also not meant to be torturous, however, with conditions below those of human concern. There are a number of reasons why a facility may be considered dangerous including uncontrolled violence, staff abuse and medical neglect. Following are some of the country’s most notorious and problematic correctional facilities.

Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary: Leavenworth, Kansas
Leavenworth-prison This all-male prison carries out the judgments of Federal courts. It houses some of the most dangerous criminals in the country and places them under some of the most repressive conditions, including a lack of ventilation. Notable inmates include Michael Vick, Bugs Moran and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Polunsky: Livingston, Texas
polunsky unit The all-solitary unit houses inmates under some of the most strict death row conditions. Prisoners are kept in single cells for 22 hours each day with one hour of caged recreation. Many of the inmates have been reported to suffer various psychological disorders yet they are still deemed competent for execution.

United States Penitentiary Tucson: Tucson, Arizona
casephoto_tucson_300_255 With its share of violent high-profile inmates, this penitentiary commonly crawls with inmates wielding handmade weapons or “shanks” used in violent attacks.

Idaho Correctional Center: Kuna, Idaho
idc With its combination of gang violence and severe understaffing, Idaho Correctional Center has been labeled as a “gladiator school.” According to a 2010 lawsuit the violence is condoned and even promoted by prison staff.

United States Penitentiary Marion: Marion, Illinois
U. S. Penitentiary Marion This U.S. Penitentiary became the nation’s highest security prison within 15 years of its opening in 1963. Violence forced it into a long-term lockdown and it is one of only two facilities to have a Communication Management Unit. The prison’s famous inmates include John Gotti and Pete Rose.

Julia Tutwiler Prison: Wetumpka, Alabama
Tutwiler400 This all-female prison has a history of claims and lawsuits alleging sexual abuse on behalf of the facility’s staff. Many of the prisoners have become pregnant by male guards. Many have reported fear of rejecting sexual advances will lead to solitary confinement or other forms of retaliation.

California State Prison, Corcoran: Kings County, California
castatep Journalist Mark Arax covered the prison in 1996, claiming it was the most dangerous of all state prisons. Officers here had killed more inmates than any other prison with many of the shootings having no proper justification. Some officers would also initiate fights among prisoners. The facility currently houses Charles Manson and Phillip Garrido, known for kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard.

Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility: Leake County, Mississippi
MS_WalnutGrove_13-630 This youth facility has been reported to have some of the most brutal crimes committed against its young inmates. Assault, rape and psychological abuse are common occurrences and many of the prison staff members have been accused of contributing to violence between inmates.

United States Penitentiary Lewisburg: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
usplewisburg This overcrowded supermax prison is named in a number of lawsuits including one that claims prison staff intentionally bunk inmates with their known enemies, a practice that has resulted in at least two deaths.

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility: Sullivan County, Indiana

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Overcrowding is a major contributor to the lack of security seen here. Violent attacks among inmates are common, with some even ending in murder.

United States Penitentiary Beaumont: Jefferson County, Texas
beaumont This high-security facility has seen plotted murders take place as recently as 2007, and again in 2008. An investigation by a university student found incidences of corruption and even cage fights.

Holman Correctional Facility: Escambia County, Alabama
holman With its frequent stabbings and violent attacks between prisoners this prison has earned names like “The Slaughterhouse” and “House of Pain.”

United States Penitentiary Atlanta: Atlanta, Georgia
uspatlanta This prison is known for housing transfer inmates in 56-square-foot isolation cells for weeks on end. Its most famous event was the 1987 riot of Cuban detainees who set fire to the prison. Guards and inmates were hospitalized, many with gunshot wounds.

Reeves County Detention Complex: Pecos, Texas
reeves This institution is notorious for its lack of proper medical treatment for inmates. Conditions are so unsafe a detainee died from a seizure due to lack of concern over his condition. In response inmates initiated several riots in which parts of the complex were set on fire while staff members were taken as hostages.

Ely State Prison: Ely, Nevada
Ely In response to reported mistreatment and psychological intimidation, prisoners staged a 2010 riot that lead to serious injuries of inmates and guards including stab wounds and head trauma.

Pelican Bay State Prison: Crescent City, California
pelican-bay-state-supermax Ravaged with gang activity, the prison hosts inmates leading drug cartels that are the basis for violent infractions. Many assaults are aimed toward staff members or even prosecutors.

Attica Correctional Facility: Attica, New York
800px-Attica,_New_York_(Correctional_Facility) This notorious facility often houses inmates who are removed from other facilities due to disciplinary problems. Holding many of the most dangerous criminals in the world, it is most famous for its 1971 riot that lead to the deaths of 39 people including 10 civilians.

United States Penitentiary Pollock: Grant Parish, Louisiana
USP-Pollock Gang rivalries and personal fights have contributed to at least three individual murders here. Two of the cases have yet to be closed.

Men’s Central Jail and Twin Towers Correctional Facility: Los Angeles, California
Twin_Towers630 This overcrowded correctional facility houses inmates that are transferred from overcrowded California prisons. According to investigative reports beatings are prevalent with guards often standing by as inmates are assaulted or raped by their peers. Other times guards contribute to the attacks.

Sing Sing Correctional Facility: Ossining, New York
800px-Sing_Sing This notorious prison hosts a number of violent criminals, nearly a third of whom serve time for murder. Some of its more well known inmates have included Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were sent to the electric chair and Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

Folsom State Prison: Folsom, California
800px-FolsomStatePrison Hosting its share of violent criminals, including famed ones such as Charles Manson and Suge Knight, Folsom is one of the oldest prisons in California. The maximum security facility has a long history of gang violence. This frequently includes fights between rival gangs that result in injury to inmates and officers.

Alcatraz: San Francisco, California
alcatraz Another one of the country’s most well-known prisons, Alcatraz, or “The Rock” was designed to make escape as unlikely as possible. It became notorious for being the most fearsome prison in the country. Inmates were subjected to cruel punishment by guards, leading to severe psychological deterioration and violence among inmates, including murder.

Louisiana State Penitentiary: Angola, Louisiana
chamber-at-louisiana-state Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as the Alcatraz of the South, is the largest maximum security prison in the country. With an inmate population of 5,000 the facility is known for widespread violence and inmate abuse. There is also a reported history of commonplace sexual slavery as early as the 1960s.

Rikers Island: Queens, New York
Rikers As one of the country’s most famous correctional facilities, Rikers has a reputation for violence of all kinds between prisoners and toward guards. One such incident in 2007 involved a prisoner being brutally beaten by other inmates as guards watched. Famous inmates include David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, Tupac Shakur, Plaxico Burress, Lil Wayne and more.

Orleans Parish Prison: New Orleans, Louisiana
orleans-parish-prisonjpg-41ea94c061d6c440_large Another prison known for staff misconduct, Orleans Parish Prison, or OPP, is reported to have issues with guards allowing or ignoring inmate violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that in just one month in 2012 the prison sent 23 inmates to the emergency room for severe injuries resulting from violent encounters.

Penitentiary of New Mexico: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Penitentiary_of_New_Mexico_-_Recreation_Yard This facility has a long history of riots, with one of the most brutal ending in the deaths of 33 inmates with 12 officers taken hostage.

ADX Florence Facility: Florence, Colorado
ADXexterior630 This prison was built in response to the level of violence introduced by high risk inmates in other prisons. ADX prisoners are often transferred to the facility after having killed inmates or officers at their original locations. Inmates have filed numerous class-action lawsuits citing cruel and unusual punishment.

San Quentin State Prison: San Rafael, California
San_Quentin_Prison San Quentin hosts the largest death row population in the United States. It is notorious for gang-related race riots and internal corruption. Early in its history such altercations were encouraged by guards. Crips founder Stanley “Tookie” Williams, Charles Manson and Scott Peterson have all served time here.

The Death Penalty in the USA

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11 of the Most Famous Female Convicts

It may be true that the majority of the world’s violent criminals have been men, but female criminals are not completely lacking in world history. It is perhaps their femininity that makes their crimes seem all the more shocking. Though some are seen today as victims of an unjust legal system, many others are the authors of shocking crimes and garner little sympathy from the general public.

Susan Atkins

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One of five people convicted for the murder of actress Sharon Tate and others, Atkins was part of Charles Manson’s “family” in the 1960s. Known as Sadie Mae Glutz for most of her time with the Manson family, Atkins confessed to having personally killed the pregnant Sharon Tate and writing the word “pig” on the front door of the house in Tate’s blood. Atkins served nearly 40 years in prison and was denied parole 18 times. She died in 2009.

Squeaky Fromme

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Another Manson family member, Lynette Fromme was never charged in any murder cases, but she was an outspoken supporter of Manson and the family during the Tate-LaBianca murder trial. The crime for which Fromme was convicted was the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in 1975. She escaped from prison in 1987 to try to get to Charles Manson, who she believed had cancer. She was returned to prison and two extra years were added to her sentence. She was paroled in 2009.

Patty Hearst
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Patricia Hearst was the granddaughter of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. In 1974 when she was 19, Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a radical left-wing group. Two months after her kidnapping, she was seen armed and participating in a bank robbery with members of the SLA. She later claimed that she had joined the group voluntarily. When she was arrested and tried for armed robbery, she claimed that she had been coerced by brainwashing and sexual and physical abuse. Prosecutors alleged that she had never been kidnapped and had always been a member of the radical group. She was found guilty and sentenced to prison, but President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence two years later and she was officially pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Leona Helmsley
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Leona Helmsley was a successful business woman who was convicted of income tax evasion in 1989. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison but after appeal, many charges were dropped and her time served wound up being 19 months plus two months of home confinement. She became notorious when a former housekeeper alleged during the trial that Helmsley had once boasted to her about evading taxes by stating, “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.” This statement and Helmsley’s alleged attitudes towards employees gave her the nickname “The Queen of Mean.” She died in 2007 at the age of 87.

Juliet Hulme
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In the New Zealand winter of 1954, 15-year-old Juliet Hulme and her best friend Pauline Parker plotted and carried out the murder of Parker’s mother. They took their victim to a park and bludgeoned her to death with a brick. Both girls were sentenced to be “detained at her Majesty’s pleasure,” which in New Zealand meant imprisoned for an indefinite period of time. Both Hulme and Parker were released from prison after serving five years. Shortly after the release of Peter Jackson’s 1994 movie “Heavenly Creatures” that is based on the Hulme-Parker murder, the public learned that popular mystery author Anne Perry is, in fact, Juliet Hulme.

Joan of Arc
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Possibly the most famous female convict of all time, Joan of Arc was born in France around 1412 and convicted of heresy at the age of 19. She was executed by being burned at the stake. After her death she was eventually pardoned – and then some. Joan led the French army to victory over the British when she was 18 years old. Having claimed for years that God had personally spoken to her, she was eventually tried and convicted of heresy. Twenty-five years after her execution she was declared innocent and then declared a martyr. Some 500 years after that, in 1920, she was canonized by the Catholic Church.

Brenda Spencer
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If the name Brenda Spencer doesn’t ring a bell, the answer she gave when she was asked why she open fired on a group of school students probably will: “I don’t like Mondays.” The school shooting that inspired the Boomtown Rats’ hit song happened on the morning of January 29, 1979 when 16-year-old Spencer started shooting at elementary school children who were arriving at school across the street from her home in San Diego. She wounded eight children and killed two adults. Spencer showed little remorse after the killings and has attempted to put the blame on drugs or other circumstances at her parole hearings. She is serving a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Martha Stewart
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Martha Stewart was a fashion model before she became famous as a TV personality and home decorating and cooking icon. Her legal troubles in 2004 stemmed from charges of insider trading. She was convicted and sentenced to prison, where she spent some five months in late 2004 and early 2005. After her release she served five months of home confinement and another 19 months under supervision.

Mary Surratt
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Mary Surratt is widely known as the first American woman to be executed. She owned the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and his associates met to plan their conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln and other government officials. Surratt was charged and convicted along with three other conspirators. All four were hanged on July 7, 1865.

Tokyo Rose
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Tokyo Rose was a name American soldiers gave to any of several English-speaking women who made Japanese propaganda broadcasts on radio during World War II. The nickname is most associated with one woman in particular, Iva Toguri, an American who was convicted of treason for her radio broadcasts. There was much evidence that Toguri was a loyal American who actually infused anti-Japanese sentiment into her radio shows. She served 20 years in prison, but she was officially pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977.

Aileen Wuornos
Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos was a serial killer of male victims who was executed by lethal injection in 2002. She claimed that all of the seven men she killed in the period of one year had raped her, but she changed her stories at times. In total she received six death sentences for the murders. Six of her victims had been shot several times; the body of one was never found.

The 15 Most Infamous Heists of All Time

There have been no shortage of movies and books that surround the daring story of the big heist. There is a certain allure that captivates even the most refined mind when it comes to the ability to plan the impossible and pull it off. While some enjoy the occasional movie and others day dream about the big score, there are some who actually took action. When you think about folk heroes such as Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger and more, the word “infamous” comes to mind. The following heist are diverse in level of planning and the guts it took to pull them off.

1. The Agriculture Bank Heist

A Chinese banker cooked up a scheme to steal several hundred thousand dollars in order to play the lottery and then repay the money with his winnings. Believe it or not, the scheme worked the first time around, but as with most, he got greedy. Unfortunately, the next several attempts did not worked out, as he lost the more than $7 million dollars he stole on the lottery. He was eventually arrested and jailed. 

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2. Millennium Dome Raid

These would be robbers planned to raid the Millennium Dome to steal a 203-carat diamond known as the Millennium Star. The robbers planned a massive shootout with police and a speedboat get away. The problem for them was that the authorities were monitoring them from the beginning to the moment they actually attempted to carry out their plans.

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3. Gardner Art Museum Heist

In 1990, a couple of men disguised as Boston Police Officers gained access to the Gardner Museum, which was against Gardner Museum security rules. The two subdued the guards that were on duty. They then stole a number of priceless paintings, including a Rembrandt, Monet, and Vermeer. The statute of limitation has since expired, yet no one has admitted to the crime.

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4. The Famous Butch Cassidy Heist of 1889 $20,000 Stolen

Butch Cassidy became noted for his run-ins with the law, but on June 24, 1889, he made his biggest heist of note. Hitting the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride. It was this heist that thrust Cassidy into the spotlight, making him one of the most famous bank robbers of all time.

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5. The Great Brinks Heist

In this famous heist, eleven men gain access into a vault, stealing $3 Million dollars. The plan was to sit on the money until the six year statute of limitations was up on the crime. The problem is that the pressure from the cops and the lack of trust between the men involved sparked an insider war that resulted in a number them ending up dead and the rest were discovered by the police and jailed.

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6. The D.B. Cooper air Heist

This heist registers as the only unsolved air piracy raid in the history of aeronautics. Dubbed D.B. Cooper by the media after he was able to extort more than $200,000 on a Boeing 747, this man escaped by jumping from the plane, never to be heard from again.

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7. Dillinger’s Central Nations Bank Heist

Dillinger was not only notorious for his bank heist, but he was known for the elaborate schemes he would use to stake out future heist. He even pretended to be a film director shooting a movie about a bank robbery in order to gain access to the bank. His biggest heist on record was the Central National Bank and Trust Company in Greencastle, IN. Dillinger walked away with $75,000.

8. Palestine Liberation Organization British Bank Heist

In 1976, Palestinian guerrillas successfully robbed the British Bank of the Middle East in Beirut. They blasted through the wall of an adjacent church in order to gain access. Once inside, the group had safe crackers that were able to gain access to the vault, which contained gold, jewelry, stocks and bonds and more. It is reported that the group was able to get away with between $20 and $50 million.

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9. Stanley Mark Rifkin, 1978

Stanley Rifkin’s act of relieving the Security Pacific National Bank of $10.8 million was once considered the biggest bank robbery in history. This elaborate bank robbery did not consist of gun play, ski masks or demands for everybody to get down on the floor. This job was executed so smoothly, via large wire transfers to Swiss bank accounts, that the bank did not become aware of the fact that they had been robbed until the FBI informed them eight days later. If it were not for a disloyal associate, Rifkin may have gotten away with it.

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10. The Great Train Robbery

The Cinema has produced some of the greatest images of robberies, and some of the most exciting robbery scenes have taken place on trains. The Great Train Robbery is known for the amount that was stolen — $41 million — as well as the simplicity of the heist. Fifteen unarmed men used false signals to get the conductor to stop the train. They then boarded the train, subdued the guards and took to the money.

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11. The Bank Job

This heist was so popular that it inspired a movie. In 1971 a group of career criminals used a store front next to a bank to gain access to its vault. During the heist, the robbers used a lookout who communicated with them via radio. A local radio operator picked up the transmissions and alerted the police. Although the police scrambled units to more than 700 banks, the group got away with what was reported as $3 million dollars. Some have asserted that this job was actually funded by MI-6, Great Britain’s intelligence operation agency.

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12. The Banco Central Burglary

Some heist are known for the exorbitant amounts of money that was stolen. Some become infamous because of the person who pulled it off. This heist is known for the high level of engineering that it took. The criminals used a front as a landscaping company, which allow them the freedom to dig a 250 feet tunnel directly beneath the Banco Central of Brazil. The thieves’ ingenuity was rewarded with $70 million dollars. Although the police were able to make several arrests and recover $9 million, the majority of the group and they money are still at large.

13. The North Hollywood Bank of America Robbery

For a modern day robbery, $305,305 dollars does not qualify as a huge amount for a bank robbery. What qualifies this heist was the daring shootout, which has become one of the most talked about in history. Emil Matasareanu and Larry Eugene Phillips Jr. were armed with five illegally modified assault rifles and more than 3,300 rounds of armor-piercing ammunition. Their problems began almost immediately when they were spotted going into the bank by police. Upon their exit with $305,305, a shootout ensued that would rival any movie scene. As the shootout played live over news networks, the two stood their ground until they were finally killed.

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14. The Infamous Dunbar Armored Heist

At one point, the Dunbar Armored Heist, masterminded by Allen Pace, was considered to be the largest cash robbery in U.S. history — with the robbers making off with 18.9 million in cash. Pace was the regional security director for Dunbar, giving him access to take tons of stakeout photographs, which he used to brief the friends he brought back with him to the armored depot. The crew tied up the guards with duck take and packed off the money in a rented U-Haul truck. A fragment of the U-Haul’s taillight was traced back to Pace who was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

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15. Swedish Cash Depot Raid

This elaborate cash grab is known more for the execution and the failure of law enforcement. The assailants raided a Swedish cash depot by descending from a helicopter. What makes this daring robbery even more intriguing is the fact that the cops had been alerted to the robbery but staked out the wrong cash depot. Witnesses claim to have heard a series of explosions, and then they saw the men reappear carrying large bags of money. The cops would later find the helicopter ditch and subsequently make two arrests, but that would be as far as they would get.

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Each of these heists are unique and made the list of the 15 most infamous heist for the unique impact they had on the culture at the time of the heist and their historical significance. Some, such as the robberies by Dillinger and Cassidy, did not top the scale on the monetary side of the equation, but the robberies are now infamous, and the robbers immortalized.

15 Surprising Ex-Convicts (Who Made it Big)

This list of former convicts proves that no matter the circumstances, anyone can overcome hurdles to change their lives around and become a success and an influence.

1. Daniel Manville

http://www.legalnews.com/detroit/1283324

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Daniel Manville served three years and four months in jail for manslaughter. While he was in jail he studied the legal profession, earning two college degrees. After he got out he went to law school. He passed the bar, representing both prison guards and inmates in civil court cases. He currently teaches law at Michigan State University.

2. Uchendi Nwani

http://www.scoop.it/t/itsyourbiz/p/4007976123/2013/09/20/the-millionaire-ex-convict-uchendi-nwani-on-sunday-show Uchendi Uchendi Nwani served six and a half months of labor at a federal boot camp for drug dealing, interrupting his college studies. After his stint, he lived in a halfway house and cut hair at the university salon where he resumed studies. He opened his own barber shop and later school after graduation. He shares his success by traveling nationwide, motivating others to follow their dreams even in the midst of adversity.

3. Eugene Brown

http://educationtownhall.org/2014/01/13/chess-and-life/

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Eugene Brown served time in a New Jersey prison after a robbery attempt. During his prison stay he met his future mentor, a man named Massey, who taught him how to play chess. Brown realized that chess was a metaphor for life, and later established a chess club that also taught life lessons. Brown became a successful businessman, and in 2014 Cuba Gooding, Jr. will play the starring role in a movie based on his life.

4. Jeff Henderson

http://www.foodnetwork.com/chefs/jeff-henderson.html

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Jeff Henderson served ten years for dealing and manufacturing cocaine as a youth. During his time in prison he discovered he liked to cook and spent his days honing this talent. Released for good behavior, he worked as a chef in LA before moving to Las Vegas. He is currently working at Caesar’s Palace, earning top recognition and rewards.

5. Mark “Chopper” Read

http://www.news.com.au/national/what-happened-during-mark-8216chopper8217-read8217s-early-years/story-fncynjr2-1226736503189

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Australian Mark Read robbed drug dealers during his earlier years, and was recognizable by his many tattoos and cut-off ears. He served multiple stints in jail for crimes such as attempted abduction of a judge and armed robbery. During his time behind bars he wrote several best-selling crime novels. Eric Bana starred in a movie about his life in 2000.

6. Robert Downey, Jr

http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/Robert_Downey_Jr.

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Robert Downey, Jr has served jail time for multiple drug-related charges (involving heroin, marijuana and cocaine). He also attempted multiple rehabilitation and drug treatment programs. Although he has been candid about his battle with addiction, he has since enjoyed a comeback and starred in several blockbuster films.

7. Tim Allen

http://hollywood.improv.com/event.cfm?id=303620

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Before Tim Allen became a famous celebrity, he served two years and four months in the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minnesota for cocaine possession and drug trafficking. After his stint in prison he turned his life around and became a famous Hollywood actor.

8. Christian Slater

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000225/

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Actor Christian Slater suffered some setbacks when he served 59 days in jail after assault on his girlfriend and a police officer. He had been arrested prior to that for drunk driving, boarding a plane with a gun and another episode of assault. After jail and rehab, he was able to successfully turn his career around and enjoy a comeback.

9. 50 Cent

http://thatsenuff.com/index.php/2014/03/50-cent-deads-all-rumors-of-a-realtionship-with-vixen-sally-ferreria-calling-her-a-thirsty-video-b-details/

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Before he became a famous rapper, Curtis Jackson III (aka 50 Cent) served a six-month boot camp sentence (instead of his original three-to-nine years) for drug-related charges. While in prison, he earned his GED and was determined to make it as a rapper. His first album was a hit, and he continues to make music along with other business aspirations.

10. Danny Trejo

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001803/

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Danny Trejo was in and out of prisons for charges relating to both robbery and drugs. He finally turned his life around and broke free of his addictions. He now plays the tough guy onscreen in many television shows and action films.

11. Frank William Abagnale

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Abagnale

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When Frank William Abagnale was only 16 years old he began his career as a conman (pretending to be a doctor, college professor, lawyer and airline pilot), eventually writing $2.5 million in fradulent checks. He went to prison for five years. Since his release, he has cooperated with the government and runs a consulting firm that helps agencies debunk fraud. A movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks was made based on his life story.

12. Junior Johnson

http://espn.go.com/racing/blog/_/name/hinton_ed/id/4913741/daytona-500-grand-marshal-junior-johnson-discovered-draft-accident

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Junior Johnson served jail time for smuggling illegal alcohol in North Carolina, back before he became a NASCAR driver. He credits his early transports as training for his later career, where he has won 50 races. A highway in his hometown bears his name.

13. Malcolm X

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X

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Before he was known as Malcolm X, Malcolm Little says he committed acts of petty larceny while hustling in Harlem and Boston. During his jail time, Malcolm converted to Islam and became a powerful leader, preaching a message of peace and standing up for African-American rights.

14. Mukhtar Gusengajiev

https://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Mukhtar+Gusengajiev&gbv=2&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ei=7XxJU7XHLfSl2AXxrICgAw&ved=0CEYQsAQ

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Mukhtar Gusengajiev served three years in prison as a teenager for fighting. During his incarceration he studied both mediation and flexibility. Once he was released he performed in a circus before acting in a movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme. The movie was never released but Mukhtar ended up in Las Vegas where he became world-famous for his extreme flexibility. He now performs around the world and gives motivational speeches about reaching goals.

15. Eugene-Francois Vidocq

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne-Fran%C3%A7ois_Vidocq

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Frenchman Eugene-Francois Vidocq was jailed multiple times in his youth for false identity and even theft. He turned his life around and later worked with the police as a spy. Ironically, the modern-day French National Police force was founded by his tactics and expertise. His stories are also the basis of Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous Sherlock Holmes.

Infographic: Privatization of the US Prison System

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All Things Crime: An Interview with Patrick H. Moore

 

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Patrick H. Moore’s All Things Crime blog is what you would expect from someone who is a Private Investigator, Sentencing Mitigation Specialist, and crime writer. It’s a compendium of true crime stories, serial killer profiles and insightful reviews of fiction and true crime literature.

Patrick is based in Los Angeles. He has been investigating drug trafficking cases, sex crimes, crimes of violence, and white collar fraud since 2003.

Patrick is a brilliant, riveting writer and it was his love of language and our common interest in the dark side of humanity that attracted me to his blog. Patrick graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s degree in English Literature from San Francisco State University, in 1990.  He has also worked as a Community College English teacher. Patrick’s debut crime novel, Cicero’s Dead, will be published this Spring.

Check out All Things Crime and follow on Facebook.

Patrick H. Moore

Image courtesy of All Things Crime
Patrick H. Moore

Arrestrecords.com had the pleasure of speaking with Patrick about his work, the art of crime writing and our criminal justice system.

You are able to bring a unique insight to the topics you cover as a Private Investigator, Sentencing Mitigation Specialist and author. That sounds like an exciting life, although people who aren’t familiar with private investigators don’t realize that it isn’t a life of glamor. What led you to these career choices?

Patrick: Oddly enough, until I was in my early 50s, I had never considered working in the legal field. Then, around that time, I wrote a novel with a crime tie-in and sent in down to my current boss in L.A. He read it and realized that I could write. It just so happened that at that time, he had lost his right-hand-man who had taken a soft job in labor relations at UCLA. Since he desperately needed a replacement, I was elected. I moved the family to L.A. and the rest is history. I will have been at my present position for 11 years in October of this year.

Can you tell us what a Sentencing Mitigation Specialist does?

Patrick: The task of a Sentencing Mitigation Specialist is simple in theory; the Mitigator does whatever is necessary to get his clients a shorter sentence, or when possible, Probation. The process I follow is as follows. I spend a great deal of time interviewing my clients getting their life stories. I also interview friends and family members. We also collect character reference letters written on behalf of our clients which is an extremely important part of the process.

Ultimately, I write complex legal documents under the attorney’s cover which are called Federal Sentencing Memoranda. They are hybrid documents — part compelling life stories, part legal analyses of the cases. In a typical case, my goal is to get my client’s sentence reduced by half or more. Although we are not always successful, we are much of the time and sometimes our results are seemingly miraculous. On the other hand, once in a while we face a more or less impossible case in which our efforts are largely in vain.

Best of the Best Crime Fiction – Twelve Remarkable Crime Novels is a great defense for a genre that often gets dismissed by people who say they only read “literary fiction”. Many of the authors authors BJW Nashe mentioned here are my favorites. I see you get dozens of requests to write book reviews, which isn’t surprising since you used to teach English and you are such an accomplished writer. Do you have a favorite crime writer? What true crime or fictional crime have you read lately that you would like to recommend?

Patrick: My favorite crime writers are Robert Stone and Dennis Lehane, although I’m itching to find the time to read Jo Nesbo seriously. Because of my current major blog demands, I haven’t had much time to read crime fiction lately though I would heartily recommend Charles Salzberg’s innovative crime novel, ‘Devil in the Hole”, which, utilizing a multiple narrative point-of-view, follows the anguished exploits of a Connecticut Mr. Everyman who murders his wife, mother and children for no particular reason other than that he is bored with his meaningless suburban existence and foolishly thinks he can escape his fate.

I read the article you wrote on Mary Jones. It’s a heartbreaking story, but one that is all too common in the justice system. Thank you for bringing awareness to social justice issues. I also read your article on people serving life sentences for crimes they committed as children.  The Internet and social media has increased awareness of these issues, and it motivates people to take action.  As someone who has worked in the criminal justice system, do you think it is possible to affect change in our justice system overall? If someone knows of a case where a person was wrongfully convicted or sentenced unfairly, what resources are available?

Patrick: It’s very difficult to say if our work will have any substantial effect on the system as a whole, a system which as you may know, I often refer to as the Injustice System. On the other hand, there is no doubt that we regularly get people a more fair break. Truthfully, I don’t spend much time worrying about the big picture but rather simply chip away on my individual cases striving for good individual results.

It does appear, however, that the tide may be slowly shifting away from the “hang ‘em high” mentality to a more balanced approach in which even some law-and-order types are beginning to realize that it’s both appalling and humiliating to face the grim fact that the U.S. locks people up at a far greater rate than any country on earth. It’s not a pleasant thing to realize that you live in what has apparently become the world’s harshest police state.

It goes without saying that people are wrongfully convicted or sentenced too harshly all the time. Convicted individuals, of course, have appeal rights, and much progress has been made by groups like the Innocence Project in obtaining justice for individuals wrongly convicted of capital crimes. Not much can be done, however, for individuals who receive unduly harsh Federal sentences which still happens too much of the time for the simple reason that it is incredibly difficult in today’s climate to have a sentence reduced on appeal, though it does happen on rare occasions.

We can’t get enough of serial killer movies and TV shows. I was a huge fan of Dexter and I hate to say this about a serial killer, but I kind of miss him. Women are also the largest audience for books about serial killers. Why do you think the public is so fascinated with people who commit such horrible crimes?

Patrick: Great question! I too am fascinated with serial killers. I’m currently beginning to explore the life of that bizarre chameleon Ted Bundy. Everyone, of course, faces daily frustrations while fighting our way through life, but the serial killer for somewhat inexplicable reasons takes that extra fatal step into a realm of no return that closes irrevocably around them once they’ve slaughtered their first victim.

One thing people ask me all the time as a former P.I. is when I am going to write a book about private investigation. Do you have any plans for a novel or true crime book in your future?

Patrick: I’ve written two crime fiction novels, the first of which is being edited even as we speak and is slated to be published by Max Myers’ new indie publishing outfit, US Indie Books, by the end of the spring. I’d been writing crime fiction for a few years when I started All things Crime Blog. I might also be interested in writing a true crime book at some point although that would require substantial time for research which is not presently on the horizon.

 

Thank you, Patrick, it’s been such a pleasure learning about your work and  All Things Crime.

 

The Court Junkie: Interview with Jillian Pandav

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There can never be too many eyes on the justice system.  Jillian Pandav created Court Junkie to share the latest crime and courtroom news and to bring awareness to cases of missing persons.

Unless we are personally involved, most of us don’t have time to attend trials. Watching the proceedings that convict the guilty or free the innocent (in best case scenarios) has also become entertainment for the masses.  Jillian still shares the lurid details of crime, but she writes with compassion, eloquence and grace.

We all need to be familiar with the way our legal system works, or fails us on occasion. We also need to know about the dark side of life because any one of us, or our family members can become a victim.

Check out Court Junkie for the latest news, watch their YouTube channel or engage with Jillian and her readers on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 Jillian Pandav

Image Courtesy of Court Junkie
Jillian Pandav

Arrestrecords.com had the pleasure of speaking with Jillian about her inspiration for founding Court Junkie and her passion for criminal justice issues.

You’ve put together an amazing website. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you started writing about court cases and crime?

Jillian: Thank you! I’m 31 years old, live in the city of Chicago, and was a journalism major back in college, so I’ve always had the writing and news junkie bug.

I’ve followed crime stories for as long as I can remember. I think it all started with the O.J. Simpson trial – I was completely captivated by it. I would race home from school to catch the highlights of the trial on what was then CourtTV (which I wish they would bring back!)

Then, when I was in college in San Diego, the disappearance of Laci Peterson was all over the news, especially after Scott was arrested in Torrey Pines, not far from where I was. My heart broke every time I saw that photo in the news of Laci’s smiling face. I couldn’t even imagine the pain her family was going through, especially after finding out that her husband was the person responsible.

There were countless cases I followed after that, and I started my first true-crime blog about eight years ago, called “The Thirteenth Juror.” I didn’t put much effort into the design; It was just a very basic blog where I wrote about different cases and my thoughts on each one. I had a full-time job, was married, etc., and so I didn’t have much time to commit to it, so I eventually abandoned it.

About six months ago, I lost the full-time job I was in love with after our company was bought out. I decided to take some time off and get another website up and running, this time focusing on court cases, as well as missing person’s cases. I put a lot of thought into the design of the site, and my goal is for it to raise awareness. Too many people go missing nowadays, or are victims of senseless crimes and I firmly believe that awareness can be the key to possible prevention.

I also can’t describe it, but I have such sympathy for families of the missing; my heart just hurts for them. I cry over a lot of cases, but I think it’s important to get the word out about them and see them through. Our court system isn’t perfect, but we’re lucky enough to have access to what goes on inside the courtroom (whereas some other countries aren’t so lucky).

I have bigger ideas for my site – I’m planning to add forums, so people can have a place to discuss each case, and I’d like to have more community involvement. I want it to be a site where you can have everything available on a particular case (including court documents, recorded interviews, etc.) all in one place.

My goal was to make a site that I would want to read and hopefully that’s what I will accomplish with everyone else.

I have always been interested in reading true crime stories and most of the people I know who are fascinated by this genre are women.  I’ve read studies that back this up. Some researchers believe that women read true crime because they are more fearful of becoming a victim. They read these stories to learn about the criminal mind and to learn skills to avoid these situations. Do you find that most of your readers are female and why do you think that is?

Jillian:  I think that’s definitely a very good assessment. I have found that most of my readers are, in fact, women, and I do think there’s truth in the fear of becoming a victim theory.
One of my worst fears is to have a loved one just vanish, and to not know what happened to them. Or for me to just vanish, and my family to not know what happened to me. I just can’t imagine the “not knowing.”

Take, for example, Beth Holloway, Natalee Holloway’s mother – Natalee has never been found, and Beth may possibly never truly know if her daughter is alive out there somewhere, or if she is deceased. It’s just my absolute worst nightmare.

I think reading about these cases does instill fear in people and does make them want to avoid these situations for themselves.

And delving into the “why” of a crime is also important and fascinating to people. For example, what causes someone to act in such a violent manner? How can this be prevented?

When I was in my twenties (many years ago) my roommate was best friends with a guy who turned out to be a serial rapist. A women I worked with used to be a bank teller and Paul Bernardo was a regular customer. Have you had any close encounters with criminals?

Jillian:  Wow! I actually don’t have any connections like that, thankfully! I did attend the Drew Peterson trial (only a couple days of it), and I can tell you that during breaks in the trial, Drew would turn around and look at everyone in the gallery. He would make eye contact with each person, until you looked away. He did it to me several times and each time I would try to stare back but it was so uncomfortable that I did break eye contact every time. It was the creepiest thing, and I hope to never be in the presence of such evilness ever again.  But I probably will attend more trials.

You do a great public service by providing information on missing people and links to resources on your website and Facebook page. The more publicity we get for these cases, the better chances of finding them or finding information about the person.  Can you share a happy story about someone you featured that was found safe?

Jillian: Thank you, I’m trying!

I absolutely agree that the publicity is important, which is ultimately why I wanted to do this. I have had a couple of cases that I posted in which the missing person was found safe, but I typically take the post down afterwards, especially if it involves a minor. What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet forever and if a child has run away, I wouldn’t want someone to Google them years down the road and read about it on my blog. I’m not in it to sensationalize anything, and my general rule is that if a court case doesn’t come out of it, I won’t typically post it.

However, I have left up a few great outcomes.

One is the kidnapping of 29-year-old Bethany Arceneaux who was kidnapped by the father of her child. Her family was relentless in searching for her and eventually found her in an abandoned house. They kicked the door down, had a confrontation with her kidnapper, and saved her life. I struggled with whether I should take the post down after she was found safe, but I decided to leave it up because the family’s resolve to find her was absolutely inspiring.

On Debate.org there is a 50/50 split on whether criminal trials should be televised. The arguments against it are compelling, but we are both on the “yes” side. Why do you think it is important to allow the public to see what goes on in the courtroom?

Jillian: I can see both sides of this argument too, but I lean more towards “yes.”

We are lucky enough that in our country and Canada, we get to know everything that happens in a trial, and I think this is important. This ensures that every decision made in that courtroom is on the “up and up.” Televising a trial also brings more awareness, like we were talking about before. For example, regardless of your feelings on the Michael Dunn trial, it was incredibly important to see how the law applies itself, and how we, as a society, can lobby for changes, if necessary. A closed-door trial would be a very scary thing, in my opinion. Regardless of who the defendant is in a case is, they have rights too and shining a spotlight in the courtroom ensures that their rights will be met because tons of people are watching.

I do think there’s a difference between being televised and being sensationalized though. I love that HLN airs certain trials, but I don’t love how they sensationalize them. In my opinion, these cases aren’t glamorous; most times they are tragic. There really are never any winners, and I think it’s in poor judgment to name the trial something catchy like, “The loud music murder trial” with their background music and graphics. I doubt the family of the victim appreciates that. The publicity is great, but it needs to be done in a more respectful manner, in my opinion.

I often think about how I would cover trials differently if I had the power and money to start my own CourtTV channel.

What recent court decision has got your blood boiling?

Jillian: One recent decision that got my blood boiling would have to be the latest news about the duPont heir, Robert H. Richards IV. Granted, that sentencing was handed down in 2008 and recently just came to light, but that was definitely one that made me mad. This guy admits to sexually abusing his 3-year-old daughter, and he’s sentenced to probation?? The judge ruled that he “wouldn’t fare well” in prison. I’m sorry, but who exactly does the judge think WOULD fare well in prison??

It definitely makes me think that wealthy people can be, in fact, treated differently in our court system than someone who is poor. And again, this is another example of why publicity is important. People are outraged over this decision, and maybe the more people who speak up about it, the better the chances are that something can be changed.

The Internet has given law enforcement another way to solve crime, obtain evidence and locate missing people through social media and forums and other online sources. It’s also given the average person more opportunities to learn about the people they interact with, such as checking to see if there are any sex offenders in your neighborhood.  Do you feel that we are becoming a “big brother” state, or is this access to information worth losing some of our rights to privacy because it provides us with more security?

Jillian: In my opinion, the access to this information is definitely worth losing some of our rights to privacy. If you’re a sex offender, and you abuse a child, why should that be private? You might be able to go into rehab and become a changed person, but your neighbor definitely has a right to know what your tendencies may be. An educated decision is the best decision and awareness like that might make all the difference between letting your child hang around that person or not.

Everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion, and the thought of losing privacy might rub some people the wrong way, and I get that. I just think the benefits outweigh the cons.

 

Thank you, Jillian, for sharing your story and the stories of missing people and victims across our country.