John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Forensics: Hard Science, Not Glamor

January 6, 2010 | CUNY Lecture Series, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Television shows such as CSI:NY and Law and Order, have fueled the public’s interest in forensic science careers because of their thrilling depiction of detective work. But Prof. Lawrence Kobilinsky, chair of the Department of Forensic Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says people have a distorted view of the field. “It’s not glamorous,” he said. “There are times when evidence has to be collected from a dumpster where a decomposing body may have been.” He added, “The people that do the work are not always beautiful, tall, thin, and blond, carrying a badge and a gun while chasing a suspect.” In his lecture “Genes in the Courtroom: Science and Justice for All,” part of the Serving Science Cafe series, Kobilinsky explores the revolutionary impact DNA technology has had on forensic science since its introduction in 1985.
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Eggs, and Chickens, Grow in Brooklyn

November 23, 2009 | John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Newsmakers

Raising backyard chickens for eggs is a growing trend as the locavore movement gains ground in the city. But Declan Walsh is taking the process further. “We had been raising layer hens for six years and raising chickens for their meat seemed like a natural progression,” said Walsh, who, when not tending his brood in his Red Hook backyard, is director of community outreach at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Walsh raises the same breed used by commercial hatcheries — Cornish rock broilers — until they are ready for the local slaughterhouse. Walsh, who is organizing an event at the college in December with Just Food, a non-profit working to unite city residents and local farmers, discusses the pros and cons of raising chickens in the city. “It’s easier to find somebody to take care of them than a dog,” said Walsh, “because there’s a built-in incentive — a great egg.”
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Books on Crooks

July 27, 2009 | John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Newsmakers

Before there was Bernie Madoff, there was Charles Ponzi, the infamous swindler for whom the crime of bilking investors is named. The Lloyd Sealy Library at John Jay College of Criminal Justice recently acquired the original and never published manuscript, The Ponzi Story, which recalls the life of Ponzi, an Italian immigrant who stole $10 million from investors during the 1920s. Written by William H. McMasters, Ponzi’s personal publicist-turned-journalist, who helped break the Ponzi story, the manuscript is part of a collection of 2,200 books, manuscripts and pamphlets penned about hoaxes, con games and the criminals perpetrating them. “I don’t know of any other collection that has the depth and breadth on frauds and swindlers,” said Professor Larry E. Sullivan, John Jay’s associate dean and chief librarian, of the recently acquired collection, which can be seen by appointment. “We have just about every swindler and con (artist), going back to the 16th century.”
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Abortion and Faith

July 9, 2009 | John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Newsmakers

A three-year study that examined the behavior of unwed pregnant women, 26 and younger, produced surprising results. It showed that those who had either attended, or who had graduated from private religious schools were more likely to have had abortions than their public school peers. The report, “Understanding the Effects of Personal and School Religiosity on the Decision to Abort a Premarital Pregnancy,” by Amy Adamczyk, assistant professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, also found “no significant link” between abortion and one’s religious affiliation. “Not all women who regularly attend church, are necessarily going to be pro-life,” says Prof. Adamczyk, “even though the majority of Christian faiths in America disapprove of abortion.”
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Guantanamo: Assessing the Damage

June 2, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The disclosure by the International Committee of the Red Cross of the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay has damaged the image of the U.S. and undermined its efforts to end terrorism, say human rights experts. “Without a doubt, torture has taken place,” said David Marshall, human rights officer at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “And with respect to Vice President Cheney, he doesn’t have the last word on what torture is — the Red Cross and the U.N. do.” Marshall was joined by Stacey Sullivan, counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch and Roland Tricot, an attorney for the European Commission Delegation to the U.N., among others, in a panel discussion entitled, “Assessing Guantánamo: Challenges and Prospects,” at John Jay College for Criminal Justice.
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Counter Terrorism Debate Goes On

April 7, 2009 | City Safe, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Did Bush era anti-terrorism policies prevent another 9/11-style terror attack, as former Vice President Dick Chaney has claimed? President Obama has strongly rejected the Chaney claim, saying the policies did damage by increasing anti-American sentiments. Prof. Joseph Kings agrees. “The Bush administration failed to move forward with a lot of what they were doing,” said Prof. King. “If they could say they processed all of the detainees-and found some guilty or not guilty by a military court-than we would be in a much better position in the eyes of the world.”
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The Tankleff Case

April 3, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

In 1990 17-year-old Martin Tankleff was convicted of the brutal 1988 slayings of his parents in their Long Island home, and sentenced to 50 years to life. A newly published book says Tankleff’s unsigned “confession” was, in fact, extracted after long hours of questionable interrogation by a Suffolk County detective. Today, Tankleff is free after 17 years behind bars, his conviction vacated based on new evidence. “The real hero for his own rescue is Marty Tankfleff,” says psychology professor and false confession expert Saul Kassin of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “He wrote thousands and thousands of letters to people and got their assistance.” At John Jay’s Book and Author Series, Kassin, Tankleff lawyer Bruce A. Barket, and Richard Firstman and Jay Salpeter, authors of “A Criminal Injustice: A True Crime, a False Confession, and the Fight to Free Marty Tankleff,” discussed the case.
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Leopold and Loeb, Re-examined

February 9, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

In 1924, the brutal murder of a 14-year-old boy at the hands of two privileged, intelligent young men, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, held the country in suspense. In his acclaimed new book, “For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago,” Simon Baatz, associate professor of history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says the murderers’ lack of remorse was striking. “What shocked people was that they seemed to be so amoral,” said Baatz, who was joined by Louis Schlesinger, a criminal psychologist, and Stephen Handelman, director of the Center on Media, Crime, and Justice, at John Jay College’s Book and Author Series.
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Bratton on Leadership

December 1, 2008 | CUNY Lecture Series, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

As New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s top cop and now as Los Angeles’ police chief, William Bratton understands the challenges of leading a police force and fighting big-city crime; under Giuliani, he introduced the CompStat system, which is still used to track crimes and devise strategies. “As a police chief, there has to be an expectation that the person is capable of leading in the good times and in times of crisis,” said Bratton, speaking at John Jay College’s Patrick V. Murphy Lecture Series on Police Leadership. Bratton discussed how some of his predecessors successfully handled the pressure of the job, including Patrick Murphy’s response to the infamous police corruption scandal of the 1970s.
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Torture and Democracy

April 14, 2008 | CUNY Lecture Series, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

“Torture creates bad intelligence,” said Darius Rejali, an internationally recognized expert on torture and interrogation and political science professor at Reed College. “It involves torturing thousands of innocents while terrorists run free.” As part of John Jay College’s Human Rights Seminar Series, the Iranian-born Rejali explains why democracies are “major innovators” of torture and why sleep deprivation and water boarding techniques don’t work. Rejali, who grew up under the last reigning shah regime, discusses the genesis of modern torture techniques, the basis of his recent book, “Torture and Democracy.”
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