Showing posts with label Criminals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Criminals. Show all posts

January 12, 2016

Burning The Evidence

This is a brillant funny advertisement that was displayed on the Metro in Washington, D.C.

"If I burn the evidence, those donuts never happened."

This as astute marketing for a fitness facility.  

Burn baby, burn (calories that is)!

But in Washington, D.C. (and at times for fiduicary duty bound Wall Street), where transparency is supposed to rule the day--but often doesn't as we know--this resonates in a whole other way for a class of political and wealthy elites as well as for a host of criminals. 

Bad things (fraud, waste, abuse, and stupid mistakes)--uh, they never happened if there is no evidence to prove it.  

Like the tree that falls in the woods that no one hears...it's as if it never fell. 

Also, is there a habit of perhaps punishing the innocent in order to protect those that are really guilty? -- That never happens too, right? 

But G-d knows what really happened, and often somehow, someway the truth does get exposed (whether by savy investigative journalists, Congressional or court inquiry, brave innocents that come forward, or some bad people getting caught up in their own jumble of lies and deceit).  

As Judge Judy says, "If it doesn't make sense, it's usually not true." 

Or more in line with the ad, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 20, 2014

2014 The Bad News Goes On

What a 2014 it's been as the world continues it's descent into madness.  

If Ebola, the War with Hamas in Gaza, the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 killing 298 including 80 children and 15 crew, the intransigence of Iran on Nuclear Weapons, employment still near a 30-year low, the National Debt hitting over $18 trillion (and growing $2.43 billion a day!) and the suicide of comedian, Robin Williams wasn't enough...

- Criminal Records: 1 in 3 adult Americans (i.e. 80 million people) now have a criminal record...hmm, if the average family has around 2.5 people then just about 1 person per household has a criminal record. Are you starting to look around you now?


- Economy: Uber, yes, it's a online "ride-sharing" (i.e. taxi) service, but after it's recent IPO, Uber is worth over $41 billion dollars (more than Delta, Charles Schwab, Salesforce.com, and Kraft Foods). Someone's getting taken for a ride. Is this even surprising considering the S&P is priced over 27 times average 10-year earnings (while the historical average is only 16), the result of pumping the economy with short term easy money policies.  


- Cyber Attacks: After a blithering cyber attack by North Korea, Sony withdraws the release of the movie, The Interview, surrendering to cyber terror, and putting us all at greater risk in the future because cyber crime does pay!


- Islamic Terrorism: While ISIS advances in Syria and Iraq, 132 school children (mostly ages 6-18) plus 9 adults massacred by the Taliban this week in Peshawar, many shot in the head and others lit on fire with gasoline and burnt to death so they are unrecognizable. This only 9 months after the April kidnapping by Boko Haram of more than 280 schoolgirls in Nigeria, which was repeated this week with the kidnapping of another 185 woman and children.


- Russian Militarism: The Great Bear is back with a vengeance as Putin continues driving Russian nationalism and buildup of advanced weapons, including WMD (e.g. nukes), aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs to counter alleged "Western Aggression." And despite, the rubbles' massive decline, Putin promises an economic comeback within 2 years--he'll wait out the West and hold Crimea hostage and spoil it for everything it's worth


So where are we going next--more hell on Earth or at some point a turnaround towards heaven again?   


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 5, 2014

Struggle Against Nature and Nurture

I started watching The Following on Netflix. 

If you haven't seen it, the show is a portrayal of a serial killer.

This criminal has a near cult like following of people who want to kill, like him, and they do. 

It is a frightening portrayal of people who murder, gruesomely.

They do it almost nonchalantly, like second nature. 

They have no remorse, quite the opposite, they are deeply committed to what they do (e.g. through stabbing, burning, choking, etc.)

And they connect with each other, and the main serial killer, in their brutal acts of murder. 

The show is deeply troubling in that there seems to be so many people out there who savor this, and that the authorities struggle to try to stop them. 

Last year, the Wall Street Journal explored the science behind violent criminals. 

They found in more than 100 studies that "about half of the variance in aggressive and anti-social behavior can be attributed to genetics."

The study of this is called neurocriminology.

When this predisposition of genetics is combined with "early child abuse," an individual is more prone to commit violent acts. 

This is the old, "nature and nurture," where our biological predisposition combined with our specific environmental factors, in a sense, make us who we are. 

Understanding these contributors can help to both predict behavior and recidivism, and very importantly help with early treatment by "making it possible to get ahead of the problem" through therapy, medication, and so on. 

People can be the worst type of animals, killing not only for food or because they are threatened, but actually for the joy of it.

The show is scary, but the reality is even more frightening as we battle heredity and environment. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 12, 2013

Parole By Analytics

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about parole boards using software to predict repeat offenders before letting someone go free. 

What used to be a decision based on good behavior during time served, showing remorse to the parole board, and intuition is being augmented with "automated assessments" that include inmate interviews, age of first arrest, type of crime, and so forth.

At least 15 states have adopted "modern risk assessment methods" to determine the potential for recidivism. 

Individuals are marked as higher risk if they are:

- Young--age 18-23 (and impulsive)
- Offense was drug-related
- Suspended or expelled from school
- Quit a job prior to having another one 
- Single or separated
- Diagnosed with a mental disorder
- Believes that it's not possible to overcome their past. 

Surprisingly, violent criminals (rapists and murders) are actually considered lower risk those guilty of nonviolent property crimes--the thinking being the someone convicted of robbery is more likely to repeat the criminal behavior because the crime is one that "reflects planning and intent."

Honestly, I think it is more than ridiculous that we should rank violent criminals less risky than thieves and release them because they had what is considered an "emotional outburst."

Would you rather have some thieves back on the street or murders and rapists--rhetorical question!

But it just shows that even the best of systems that are supposed to help make better decisions--can instead be misused or abused.

This happens when there is either bad data (such as from data-entry mistakes, deceptive responses, and missing relevant information) or from poorly designed decision rules/algorithms are applied.

The Compas system is one of the main correctional software suites being used, and the company Northpointe (a unit of Volaris) themselves advise that officials should "override the system's decisions at rates of 8% to 15%."

While even a 1/7 error rate may be an improvement over intuition, we need to still do better, especially if that 1 person commits a violent hideous crime that hurts someone else in society, and this could've been prevented. 

It's certainly not easy to expect a parole board to make a decision of whether to let someone out/free in 20 minutes, but think about the impact to someone hurt or killed or to their family, if the wrong decision is made. 

This is a critical governance process that needs:

- Sufficient time to make important decisions
- More investment in tools to aid the decision process
- Refinement of the rules that support release or imprisonment
- Collection of a broad base of interviews, history, and relevant data points tied to repeat behavior
- Validation of information to limit deception or error.

Aside from predicting whether someone is likely to be repeat offenders, parole boards also need to consider whether the person has been both punished in accordance with the severity of the crime and rehabilitated to lead a productive life going forward. 

We need to decide people's fates fairly for them, justly for the victims, and safely for society--systems can help, but it's not enough to just "have faith in the computer." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 18, 2013

Remembering Every Moment


I saw a frightening movie a while back about a girl that had been drugged and brutally raped. 

In the movie, the girl is eerily warned, "You won't remember, but you will never forget!"

That line leaves an indelible mark--that something can be so horrific, so scaring that you can't recall it, and can't forget it. 

Now there is a new device coming to market that helps you recall everything.

Memoto is a 5 megapixel tiny camera (36 x 36 millimeters) with an embedded GPS that is worn around the neck, like a necklace. 

When clipped on, it starts taking the phones and when put down or in a pocket it shuts off. 

The Memoto takes 2 photos a minutes (1 every 30 seconds or nearly 3,000 a day if worn all the time).

The photos are stored in an accessible cloud app that uses GPS to sort the photos on a timeline with a date and location stamp.

Photos are private by default, but can be shared using traditional social media, such as to Facebook or Twitter. 

The battery lasts about 2 days and is rechargeable by connecting to your computer at which time the photos are uploaded to Memoto's servers. 

Wear, photograph, recharge/upload and repeat. 

Privacy issues abound with a device like this--imagine wearing this into the bathroom, locker room, bedroom, or even a private corporate meeting--lots of embarrassing and compromising no-no's here!

At the same time, imagine all the precious or memorable moments in life that you can capture and enjoy--it's the realization of the photographic memory you've never had, but always wanted. 

Also think of that rapist or other criminal approaching you--getting photographed, caught, and punished--so that the victim really does remember, and can forget with a new peace of mind. ;-)
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July 12, 2012

100% Burglar Proof--Tell Me Another One

So I saw this advertisement for a "100% burglar proof" system and I was just bewildered.

Does anyone really think we can be 100% sure of anything--let alone security?

Everyday thieves rob the safest banks, cyber criminals hack the most secure systems, and crooks break into the most secure sites.

Everything we do comes down to risk management--assessing and classifying risk, selecting controls to mitigate risk, and monitoring those for effectiveness and necessary modifications. 

For children, maybe things are basic black and white--it's simpler that way "good guys" and "bad guys" and so on, but for adults we know there are at least "50 shades of grey" and that means that there are no certainties in life--whether security, sure financial bets, or perfect opportunities--everything is a gamble in some respects. 

I remember someone once joked about even marriage being somewhat chancy, since "you never really know the person until you wake up with them in the morning every day."

With 20-20 hindsight, all the pundits seem brilliant, but only the prophets can predict the future with accuracy. 

As to any product or vendor that markets itself as having a 100% success rate, you better get yourself a money back guarantee on it, because you will definitely need it! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 4, 2010

Advanced Biometrics for Law Enforcement

Homeland Security Today Magazine (March 2010) has an interesting article called “Biometrics on the Battlefield" about how the American military has had significant success in Afghanistan taking biometrics and in using it for “vetting, tracking, and identification.”

Here’s how it’s done:

The biometrics system uses HIIDE (Handheld Interagency Identity Detection System) devices, which is “similar in size to a large camera, [that] connects directly to the BATS [Biometrics Automated Tool Set] database and matches inputs against a biometrics watch list of 10,000 individuals.”

The database “BATS uses a combination of fingerprints, photographs and iris scans, in addition to an in-depth background examination” to “screen potential local employees, identify detainees, and differentiate friendly individuals from insurgents and terrorists.”

How successful has the use of biometrics been?

“The use of biometrics has clearly thwarted security breaches and helped prevent unwanted activities by the enemy. Additionally, in 2008 alone, hundreds of HVTs (high value targets) were identified through the use of this biometrics technology.”

The article suggests the application of this biometric system for domestic law enforcement use.

Currently, fingerprint cards or stationary scanners are common, but with the proposed military biometrics system, there is the technology potential to use mobile scanning devices quickly and easily in the field.

The article gives the example: “if an officer came into contact with an individual under suspect conditions, a simple scan of the iris would ascertain that person’s status as a convicted felon, convicted violent felon, convicted sex offender or someone on whom an alert has been placed.”

In this scenario, quicker and more accurate identification of suspects could not only aid in dealing with dangerous offenders and benefit the officers in terms of their personal safety, but also contribute to ensuring community safety and security through enhanced enforcement capabilities.

Of course, using such a system for law enforcement would have to pass legal muster including applicable privacy concerns, but as the author, Godfrey Garner, a retired special forces officer, states “hopefully, this valuable technology will be recognized and properly utilized to protect law enforcement officer in the United States. I know that I’ve seen it protect our sons and daughters on the battlefields of Afghanistan.”

We are living in an amazing time of technology advances, and the potential to save lives and increase public safety and security through lawful use of biometrics is a hopeful advancement for all.


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