The Hope Chest: Bad News from the Past is a new blog of old newspaper clippings, mostly from Detroit and Chicago in the 1930s, with true crime and other bizarre stories. Examples include Tries To Shoot A Cat And Hits Automobilist, Driver Loses His Arm Giving Traffic Signal, and Pastor Writes Spicy Book. Other highlights are a phony cop attacking a pornographer with acid and the teenage girl who became a tattooed atheist bandit.
Stop Snitchin' may be the hidden link between hip hop and the 1980s alternative rock group, House of Freaks. According to the New York Post, journalist Ethan Brown has accomplished "making the Stop Snitching movement seem reasonable" in his new book Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice. Brown argues that harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses have created a "cottage industry of cooperators" and informants who fabricate evidence, because Provision 5K1.1 of federal sentencing guidelines gives leniency in exchange for "substantial assistance to authorities." According to Brown, two of these criminal cooperators included Ray Dandridge and Ricky Gray, the perpetrators of the Richmond spree murders that ended the life of Brian Harvey of House of Freaks, his wife, and his two children. On the other hand, Mark Kleiman argues that the Stop Snitchin' movement has driven homicide clearance rates so low that, in some cities, "you have a better than even chance of literally getting away with murder." [more inside]
Art Crimes is a fascinating site about the history of vandalism in the fine arts, recently revived by a Frenchwoman who left a lipstick imprint on a 2 million dollar painting by Cy Twombly. Other examples include a British suffragist attacking a Velazquez with a knife, an installation vandalized by the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, two Chinese performance artists who urinated into Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, and a Canadian art student who vomited blue gelatin on a Mondrian. Oddly enough, the artwork that has weathered the most attacks is Rembrandt's The Night Watch, which has survived two knife attacks (one by an unemployed teacher with a butter knife) and an attack by a mental patient who had a compulsion to fling sulfuric acid at fine artworks. Other art vandalism methods, including glass cutters, hammers, scissors, guns, and ink, are discussed here.
Three Strikes Laws May Increase Murder Rates A recent article in the journal Criminology & Public Policy suggests that the politically popular "three strikes" laws may have the perverse effect of causing more murders. Because the sentences for murders and "third strikes" are the same, criminals have an incentive to change their M.O. to murder witnesses and police officers. Maybe using baseball metaphors in determining crime policy isn't such a good idea after all.