Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

8 Things Mike Daisey Could Learn From Other Liars

In our country, we don’t mind liars. In fact, we respect them for their audacity. So long as everyone is in on the joke, winking at each other conspiratorially, telling a lie is no big deal. It’s the liars who get caught that we despise. But we despise them more for getting caught then for bending the truth. A week or two from now, will anyone still be upset that actor Mike Daisey made up several details in what was represented as a journalistic exposé of human rights violations in factories in China contracted to build products for Apple? We’ll go out on a limb and say "no," the main reason being Daisey is a rank amateur when it comes to lying. However, given the fact that the man is only 36, there is time for him to step up his lying game and make a new career or two for himself. Consider the following eight things Daisey could stand to learn from other liars.

  1. Deny everything!

    Even a sweaty, scheming, neurotic slob like 37th U.S. President Richard Nixon knew that when you get caught lying, first thing to do is deny that you lied. After the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon famously declared at a November 1973 press conference that he welcomed the scrutiny he and his administration were under. "I welcome this kind of examination," he righteously stated. "Because people have gotta know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got!" Ultimately, Nixon resigned when it became clear that his impeachment was imminent. But he never admitted to any wrongdoing, not even in his resignation speech.

  2. Deny everything again!

    Like Nixon, our 42nd president Bill Clinton also understood the art of denial. During the deposition for a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones while Clinton was in the White House, he famously denied having "sexual relations" with intern Monica Lewinsky, who had submitted an affidavit in the Jones suit stating that she and Clinton had never engaged in a physical relationship. Of course, this wasn’t entirely true. Interestingly, years later, Clinton’s pathological philandering and base treatment of women seems to have been forgiven by the general public, thanks in part to his philanthropic work and the fact that his wife Hillary continues to stand by him. So hang in there, Mike. Maybe one day your hometown will rename the local airport after you like Clinton’s did for him.

  3. Do NOT mess with Oprah!

    Disgraced author and screenwriter James Frey should have the following words tattooed on his forehead, "Do NOT mess with Oprah!" Former talk show queen and über-business woman Oprah Winfrey was not happy to learn that Frey’s recovery memoir A Million Little Pieces, a gripping book she had selected for her popular book club, contained several significant exaggerations and fabrications. At the time, Frey said in his defense, "Most writers of memoirs do what I did." But most writers who lie in their memoirs and get caught aren’t stupid enough to go toe-to-toe with the Empress of Empathy on her own damn talk show. Winfrey also faced off with Frey’s publishers on the same show, and took them down like a cheetah on a gazelle. Frey eventually parlayed his career into blogging, and scripting video games and cable television shows. His books continue to sell.

  4. Remember, bad artists copy. Good artists steal!

    This is a quote often attributed to the great artist Pablo Picasso, who recognized no boundaries when it came to creating and promoting his work. It is ironic given the outrage over Daisey’s misrepresentation of the truth that Steve Jobs, the co-founder and now-deceased anti-Christ of Apple, once said of his company, "We’ve been shameless about stealing great ideas." Remember, Mike, you didn’t do anything that had not been done before, and just like Picasso, need not concern yourself with originality or integrity.

  1. The bigger the lie, the bigger the bailout!

    In spite of the fact that Bank of America helped create our current economic crisis by taking risky home loans and illegally repackaging them as high-yield securities, then selling the now popularly described "toxic loans" to unsuspecting unions, retirement funds, and foreign banks, the president with support from Congress saw fit to save them from collapse with a $45 billion bailout. Since then, has Bank of America changed its nefarious practices? Hell, no. So long as grossly wealthy people control our political future, not to mention your retirement savings, there will be no oversight and no accountability. The lesson here is the bigger the lie, the bigger the bailout.

  2. Never apologize!

    Bernie Madoff, mastermind behind a Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars and is considered the largest financial fraud in U.S. History, offered what he considered to be a sincere apology to a courtroom of his victims just before sentencing. It didn’t do him any good, since he received what amounts to a life sentence for his crimes. Later in prison, Madoff famously told a gathered group of inmates, "F— my victims. I carried them for 20 years, and now I’m doing 150 years." Perhaps not surprisingly, many inmates admire Madoff for being a cold-blooded, still selfish, and once extremely wealthy a—hole.

  3. Never stop lying!

    Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen, known in popular culture as Baron Münchausen, was a real 18th century German baron who served with the Russian military and was known for telling exaggerated, fantastic tales based on his experiences in campaigns against the Ottoman Turks. His countless crazy stories inspired many books and films, including Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Münchausen. The psychological disorder Münchausen Syndrome, where a person fakes illness to get attention, is named after the baron. Perhaps, if you tell enough tall tales, you too may one day be celebrated for your creative imagination.

  4. It’s never too late to go on tour!

    Heavily inspired by The Beatles, The Monkees were a prefabricated rock band created to star in their own television show while other musicians provided the actual songs and recorded instrumental performances. From 1966 to 1968, the band was extremely popular, releasing several hit songs including "Daydream Believer" with lead vocals by the late, great Davy Jones. At the height of the show’s popularity, the individual members of The Monkees fought for creative control of their music. In the years after the show’s cancellation, three of the original members toured the world, singing their popular hits as well as deeper, post-TV show compositions. Happily, there is life after a career as a glorified karaoke singer. The Monkees last tour before Davy Jones passed drew enthusiastic audiences and received positive reviews.

10 Common Illegal Alterations Made to Cars

illegalIt’s a fact, we love cars. But we love them even more when they look and sound nice too. If you want to have the sharpest-looking car or meanest-sounding truck on the block, you may have to make some alterations to get these desired results. What many drivers don’t know is that some of the coolest and most popular car modifications are actually illegal. The rules and regulations on vehicle alterations tend to vary from state to state, but these 10 illegal alterations are some of the most common ones out there.

  1. Window tinting

    Dark window tinting is one of the most common illegal alterations made to cars. Every state has different laws regarding window tinting and regulations, including light transmittance and location of tinting. Some states are stricter about tinting the driver’s side window and the windshield. For the most part, a light tint is the best way to go and will keep you out of trouble with law enforcement.

  2. License plate frames

    Customizing license plates and the frames that keep them in place is very popular. It may seem harmless to have a customized frame that advertises a dealership or your favorite sports team, but you can actually get pulled over and ticketed if the frame covers up the state name or numbers in any way. Tinted and reflective-plate covers are also illegal in many states.

  3. Exhaust

    Adding a performance exhaust to your vehicle can make it more powerful, faster, and louder than before. Drivers who install a new exhaust system may have a noisier and meaner sounding vehicle, but you’ll also run the risk of being ticketed if it’s too loud and causes any noise complaints.

  4. HID headlamps

    Drivers who want a customized look for their car might be tempted to get a HID headlamps kit to install, but this popular alteration is illegal in all 50 states. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that no HID headlamps meet the federal photometric standards, so if you install these you may end up with a pricey ticket.

  5. Undercarriage lighting

    Undercarriage lighting is a popular, but often illegal alteration made to cars. Adding bright neon or LED lights may be illegal in your state, especially if it interferes with the front and rear lighting. Some states have restricted certain colors and color combinations that might cause confusion or distractions on the road.

  1. Lifts

    Lifting the suspension or frame and body of your vehicle can drastically change the way your car looks and drives. As popular as this alteration is, your state may have a limit on how high you can go. Some states set their height restrictions based on maximum headlight and taillight heights and others measure by maximum bumper heights. Depending on the state you live in or drive through, you could be ticketed for an excessive lift.

  2. Muffler delete

    Drivers who want to increase the horse power and noise level of their vehicle may consider installing muffler delete pipes. But it’s important to know that every state has different laws relating to muffler delete alterations, but for the most part, it’s illegal. Most states require all vehicles have a working muffler to prevent excessively loud or unusual noises, but adding a muffler delete or similar device to your vehicle is illegal.

  3. Studded tires

    Many drivers install studded tires to get better traction on slippery roads during the winter season, but these tires can also destroy pavement. Even though studded tires have been approved by the federal government and received the DOT rating, some states do not allow them on their roads or only at certain times of the year.

  4. Off-road lamps

    High intensity off-road lamps are very bright and very illegal in some states. These 100-watt (or more) lights are often attached to the grille of trucks or mounted on the roof of vehicles. Off-road lamps might help you find your way through the dark wilderness, but they are completely unnecessary for everyday driving. The range, intensity, and light patterns of these lamps are extremely distracting on the road and can cause danger to oncoming traffic.

  5. Cold air intake

    This is a common alteration made to mostly muscle cars and four-cylinder import vehicles. Drivers install cold air intake systems for various reasons, but one of the most common is to produce more power from the engine. But this increase in power can result in an increase in fuel consumption and emissions. Your car may seem like it’s running better, but if you’re exceeding the legal emissions limits, you could be in trouble with the law.

9 Surprising Reasons a Police Officer Might Pull You Over

You’re in the home stretch — just blocks from your apartment after a long day’s work. You’re ready for some cold pizza and a nice, quiet evening of blowing up stuff in Call of Duty. And then, you see them. Flashing red and blue lights, meant just for you. You check your speedometer. Nothing there. You glance at your tags. Nothing’s out of date. Before you start to sweat, make sure you know these nine surprising reasons that you might be getting pulled over. And, please. Just the facts, ma’am.

  1. Your Door Is Open Too Long

    Oregon is quite literally not a fan of the open-door policy. According to section 811.490(b) of Oregon’s state traffic laws, it is a Class D traffic violation to leave a car door open "for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers." What about groceries? What about when you’re cleaning out your car at the gas station? If this law were taken to its logical conclusions, every single Oregonian with a car would at some point be a law-breaker.

  2. You Accidentally Screeched Your Tires

    If you’re trying to avoid some roadkill in Derby, Kan., be sure you don’t get too swerve happy. If your tires screech, you can be pulled over and ticketed. Local officials claim that the law is in place to minimize occurrences of drag racing, but if you catch a cop on a bad day, you might be the lucky motorist to take home a ticket for (literally) burning rubber. Better try and keep quiet on the mean streets of Derby — the fine can be up to $500 or 30 days in jail.

  3. You’re Singing A Rap Song With Your Windows Down

    In Rockville, Maryland, Section 13-53(a) of their municipal ordinance states that, "[a] person may not profanely curse and swear or use obscene language upon or near any street, sidewalk or highway within the hearing of persons passing by, upon or along such street, sidewalk or highway." If you’re going to cuss, make sure you do it with the windows rolled up, which won’t be a problem if you’re Michael Bolton.

  4. It’s Dark, It’s Late, And You’re Alone

    You’re driving home alone in the middle of the night. It’s dead silent. The streets are deserted. The light is red. You can practically hear the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly as a tumbleweed crosses your path. Four hours later, and the light’s still red. No one’s coming. No one’s around. You’re all alone, in an asphalt wilderness. The dark road ahead beckons you. It’s completely safe to go. You’re missing Cougar Town. You’re worried you forgot to DVR Colbert. So, you go for it … and then, of course, you see blinding lights and hear a deafening siren behind you. This is your nightmare.

  5. You’re Driving Near A Bar

    Several states have passed laws allowing "sobriety checkpoints" along roads with a high instance of alcohol-related accidents, as well as "no refusal" weekends in entire urban areas. In these cases, police officers in cities like Austin and Houston, Texas may stop your vehicle without probable cause. Your only crime? Driving on roads on which drunk idiots have also driven. Although these checkpoints are presumably set to encourage motoring safety, their constitutionality is constantly being challenged in the courts — and it’s hard to argue that they’re not eerily reminiscent of Checkpoint Charlie.

  1. You’re Doing A Real-Life Oregon Trail in Wisconsin

    If you’re camping in your wagon while trekking the deadly and perilous Oregon Trail, don’t do it on a highway in Wisconsin. According to Section 86.025 of Wisconsin traffic law, it is "unlawful for any person or persons to camp in wagons [. . .] on the public highways." With a possible fine of 10 whole dollars and a month in jail, you’re better off fording the river and setting up camp in a different state. Word to the wise: the Oregon Trail does not go through Wisconsin.

  2. You Parked In Front of Dunkin Donuts on Main Street West in South Berwick, Maine

    You can burn off a few calories while you’re getting your donut holes and the shop’s infamous cup of coffee, as it is illegal in the township of South Berwick, Maine, to park within 25 feet southward of the Main Street Dunkin Donuts. Don’t be too surprised if you get pulled over for this offense — it’s common knowledge, people: Donuts + Vicinity = Cops.

  3. You’re Having Sex In The Front Seat of Your Taxi During Your Shift

    Although you might get tapped for public indecency if you’re off the clock, it is straight up illegal for Massachusetts cab drivers to have a nooner in the front of their cabs if they’re on the clock. Instead of wondering precisely how or why this law got on the books, maybe just avoid the front seat of Massachusetts cabs.

  4. You’re A Child, And You’re Driving A Big Wheels Tonka Truck

    If you live in Ohio, are under the age of 10, and/or if you can (awkwardly) fit in a Power Wheels car, you’re hosed. In Canton, Ohio, it’s against municipal ordinance to "go upon any roadway" if you’re on "roller skates or riding in or by means of any coaster, toy vehicle, skateboard or similar device."

The 10 Largest Prostitution Rings in American History

Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. It’s also one of the world’s most lucrative. But since prostitution is illegal in most parts of the civilized world, people have had to get creative with how they run a prostitution business. That creativity has led to some remarkably profitable and influential businesses that you may have never known about. Here are the top 10 prostitution rings in American history. 

  1. Heidi Fleiss’ Hollywood prostitution ring

    The glitz and glamour of Hollywood might not seem like a profitable place to form a prostitution ring, but Heidi Fleiss proved otherwise when she put together one of the most powerful "madame" services in U.S. history. The especially provocative thing about her prostitution ring was her clientele: rich, famous, successful movie stars and celebrities. Ms. Fleiss was once quoted as saying, "I took the oldest profession on Earth and did it better than anyone on Earth."

  2. The Dumas Brothel

    The Dumas Brothel was America’s longest running house of prostitution, doing big business from 1890 to 1982 when it closed down to become a museum. Located in Uptown Butte, Mont., the brothel is so well known in the region that it has been listed as a National historical landmark. The girls at the Dumas Brothel were well known for working hard, partying hard, and often dying hard. Many report that the Dumas Brothel is haunted by its former patrons and working girls.

  3. The Mustang Ranch

    The Mustang Ranch made prostitution so acceptable and profitable, that a majority of the rest of the counties in the state soon legalized prostitution after the Mustang Ranch opened. Located in Storey County, Nev., just outside Reno, the Mustang Ranch thrived in the 1970s as one of the largest live-in brothels in the world. After its owner was convicted of federal sex charges, the brothel was forfeited to the federal government and auctioned off. It has since reopened and continues to thrive under new management.

  4. Houston’s high-priced prostitution ring

    A well-organized prostitution ring catering to the Houston elite was run like any other business by a husband and wife pair. With two websites and a huge list of contacts, the couple were entrepreneurs in every sense of the word: only the product they were selling was illegal. The couple even hired administrative staff to run their website call system — a feat many legitimate businesses can’t match today. The working girls were said to be intelligent, driven, and well-trained.

  5. Pamela Martin & Associates

    Known as the "D.C. Madame," Deborah Jeane Palfrey established a well known "sex fantasy" service that went under the moniker "Pamela Martin & Associates." When federal authorities caught wind of her operation, they charged her with various prostitution-related crimes. Palfrey was the ultimate businesswoman, requiring her "gals" to sign contracts stipulating that no sex would be involved in an appointment, requiring a dress code, and insisting on punctuality. All working girls had to have college degrees and day jobs in order to work for the agency. Palfrey lost her court battle, and ultimately took her own life — a tragic end to a story straight out of Hollywood.

  6. Texas Chicken Ranch

    Any ZZ Top fan will know of the town of La Grange where the Texas Chicken Ranch is located. Broadway fans might know it better as "the best little whorehouse in Texas." Yes, it’s a real place, and an old one at that. Prostitution was legal, and even institutionalized in the mid 1840s, and the Texas Chicken Ranch was the preeminent brothel of its time. It continued to operate until the early 1970s when concerns about the Chicken Ranch’s ties to organized crime led to its shutdown. However, the circumstances of the shutdown and the alleged link to organized crime are controversial, and many believe that the Chicken Ranch should never have been shut down at all.

  7. Wall Street prostitution ring

    Few prostitution rings can boast the high-rolling prices charged by High Class NY, a prostitution ring catering to the elite Wall Street traders of New York City. The operation charged up to $10,000 per hour for appointments, and also provided customers with cocaine and other narcotics. It was organized through a series of websites that contained codes for use in setting up appointments and phone calls. The ring was eventually infiltrated by federal authorities and shut down. Talk about high society excess in the Big Apple!

  8. East Bay Area prostitution ring

    The East Bay prostitution ring was geographically enormous, spanning six cities and half of the third largest state in America. It was also one of the most notorious exploiters of immigrant women in recent memory. Asian immigrants were frequently brought in specifically to serve as prostitutes in the ring and cycled through the areas dozen or so brothels. It took a massive effort from California and federal authorities to infiltrate and shut down the sophisticated ring, with the eight proprietors eventually being charged with human trafficking violations in addition to the prostitution charges.

  9. Moonlite Bunny Ranch

    The Bunny Ranch has been the subject of an HBO documentary that thrust it into mainstream American discourse. Famously situated in Reno, Nev., the Bunny Ranch features some of the most famous characters in pornography and prostitution. It is so successful, even at a time when Nevada is in a debilitating economic recession, that state senators have proposed taxing the establishment as a means of raising funds to offset a massive state budget shortfall. Few brothels can say that they were an essential part of the solution to an economic downturn!

  10. LA’s Russian prostitution ring

    In 2002, police busted one of the biggest prostitution rings Los Angeles has ever seen. The prostitution ring was run by five Russian immigrants, who employed at least 50 Russian women from around LA, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood. The prostitution ring was very lucrative and earned up to $8 million over the course of two years. The ringleaders operated under a business named Russian Fortuna, where they posed as travel agents and provided limo and escort services to its customers.

10 Forensic Myths Spread by TV

If you’ve watched enough reruns of shows like CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, and Bones, you probably think you’re pretty well-versed in the science of forensics and crime-solving. Think again. Sure, you’ve probably picked up a few handy tips for the next time you plan on committing a crime (which we hope is never), but for the most part, these TV shows misrepresent the forensics profession in some major ways. If you’re thinking of a career in forensic science, make sure you know the truth behind these 10 myths spread by TV before you get in too deep.

  1. Forensic scientists only work on murders

    Think of the number of people you know who have died. Now consider how many of those were murdered. The percentage is probably pretty low. So is the percentage of homicide cases that forensic scientists work on in their careers. Even though we only see the CSI team studying evidence from bizarre murders, the real forensics teams deal with far less crime. There are many more accidental deaths or deaths from natural causes than there are homicide investigations, so someone who works in forensics won’t be solving murders every day of his career. In Portland, Ore., for example, medical examiner cases are made up of 60% natural-causes cases and only 2% homicides. Some cities may see more action than others, but it’s still unlikely that the bulk of their cases will be murders.

  2. They’re raking in the cash

    Sure, they deal with dead bodies, fluids, and weapons on a daily basis, but members of a forensics team aren’t compensated nearly as well as you’d think they’d be. The national average for a medical examiner is $45,000. Southern states tend to pay a little less, and salaries get higher as you move west and north. Forensic engineers, who are often called to help in fire investigations and traffic accidents, tend to be paid a little more, making as much as $79,000 a year in some states. None of the pay scales, though, are quite enough to make Horatio Caine’s Hummer in CSI: Miami believable.

  3. They interrogate suspects and make arrests

    In forensic shows on TV, it seems like the CSI unit is the most important team at the murder scene, calling the shots, interviewing the bad guys, and then hauling them off in handcuffs. In reality, most forensic analysts work mostly in the lab, occasionally going out in the field to collect evidence or process a crime scene, depending on what their exact role is. All the interrogating and arrests are left to the police. There are some instances of CSI agents also being sworn police officers who could do both jobs, but those cases are much rarer than you see on TV.

  4. DNA evidence wraps up every case

    You see it in almost every episode of whatever version of CSI you happen to be watching. The team finds DNA evidence, sticks it into a computer program, and minutes later, a suspect appears, along with his complete criminal record and a current address. How are there any unsolved cases out there with magical technology like this? The truth is, while DNA evidence is a great tool for police and lawyers, it’s not fool-proof and it’s not a guarantee that the case will be solved. The system that many shows use to match their DNA is CODIS, a real U.S. DNA profile archive. The number of DNA profiles in CODIS has risen significantly in the past 10 years, but there are still fewer than 9 million offender profiles in the system as of 2010. Considering there are about 313 million people in the U.S., it’s not hard to imagine that not every DNA sample found matches up with someone on file.

  5. Tests are done in a matter of hours

    On TV, we see analysts performing various tests and then rushing to their supervisor with the results minutes later. Often, medical examiners are rattling off the results of the toxicology report before the body’s even been fully autopsied. It certainly makes for quicker paced TV shows, but it’s far from reality. A typical toxicology test involves taking samples of blood, urine, and various body tissues, testing them for drugs and other substances, and often involves the specimens being passed between many different people. A forensics toxicology test actually takes four to six weeks in a normal case.

  1. Forensic analysts never make mistakes

    As the entertainment market has become inundated with forensics shows, the average person becomes more and more familiar with what they think is the real justice process. It seems commonplace that prosecutors would have piles of irrefutable forensic evidence to convince jurors of a suspect’s guilt. This idea, known as the “CSI Effect,” is actually affecting real-life trials. Juries expect to be given a show and hard evidence like they’ve seen on TV, and when they don’t get it, they often don’t think the case is strong enough. On the other end of the “CSI Effect” is the notion that forensic analysts are infallible. Juries believe these analysts’ test results, even though it’s been proven time and time again that many tests can be flawed.

  2. Criminals always make mistakes

    Another detrimental aspect of the “CSI Effect” is the knowledge it gives criminals about what crime scene units do. Many murderers and rapists now know what measures to take to avoid leaving DNA evidence behind, such as burning bodies or using bleach, and how to keep blood out of their cars. This doesn’t mean that they don’t screw up in other areas or have friends who turn them in, but it is certainly making it harder on police to get solid evidence linking someone with a crime. Combine this fact with jurors not convicting as often without high-tech evidence, and forensics shows could really be messing things up for our police and prosecutors.

  3. Forensics labs are high-tech and stocked with all necessary equipment

    Crime shows give the impression that every police department has its own forensics lab. Police, medical examiners, and analysts all seem to be housed in the same building, when in reality, forensics labs often serve hundreds of city and town police departments. New Hampshire, for example, has one lab that serves the whole state. Not only are these labs few and far between, they’re also not as fancy, roomy, and well-equipped as you see on TV. Labs across the nation are underfunded and understaffed, and you won’t find every piece of needed equipment in any of them.

  4. Crimes are solved quickly

    On NCIS, CSI, and Law and Order, murders are solved in an hour — and that’s including the commercials. Even though Law and Order lets you see a time and location for every move its detectives and attorneys make, it can’t begin to show the real time frame of solving most crimes. Let’s put it in perspective: there are more than 300,000 backlogged requests for forensic services in labs across the country, and the longer DNA sits in a lab, the colder a case can get, and the less likely it is the crime will be solved. The average lab has 152 backlogged DNA requests. While we’re not saying that the majority of cases go unsolved, those that are solved will likely take months if not years to figure out.

  5. You have to have a catchy one-liner about every death

    Forensics analysts and CSI agents are used to being around dead bodies, but this doesn’t mean they’re insensitive enough to make puns about a person’s death on a regular basis. CSI: Miami‘s Horatio Caine is known for putting on his signature pair of sunglasses and dropping a corny one-liner about the dead body at hand right before the theme song begins playing. It’s safe to say that a real forensics investigator would have to go through sensitivity training if they acted like this during every case.

8 Businesses Staffed by Ex-Cons

Applying for work after having served time in prison can be incredibly discouraging. Business owners can be quick to judge ex-convicts, and worry that they can’t be trusted. The irony is that this lack of faith on the part of the business community contributes to criminal recidivism. Without gainful employment, ex-convicts are likely to end up committing a crime will send them back to prison. But there are many examples of businesses who proudly employ ex-convicts. These businesses have developed a loyal customer base, managed to prosper in an uncertain economy, and changed the lives of the men and women hired. The federal government offers a substantial credit on income tax on wages paid to each former inmate a business hires, which certainly helps with their bottom line. Here are eight businesses staffed by ex-cons:

  1. Sweet Beginnings

    Frustrated at the lack of job opportunities for former inmates, Brenda Palms Barber, director of the Chicago-based non-profit North Lawndale Employment Network, started the for-profit Sweet Beginnings to temporarily hire and train ex-offenders. Sweet Beginnings produces honey and honey-based skin care products. Workers raise bees and perform sales, manufacturing, and customer service related tasks. Potential employees must complete NLEN’s job-readiness program before being hired and receive job-placement services as their time with Sweet Beginnings, which can last anywhere from 90 days to a year, comes to an end.

  2. I Have a Bean Coffee Store

    Located in Wheaton, Ill., where 20,000 prisoners are released every year, I Have a Bean Coffee Store, formerly Second Chance Coffee Company, was created to "positively impact the lives of post-prison men and women" and the communities in which they live. The company roasts, sells, and ships their brand of premium coffee. In addition to hiring ex-offenders, I Have a Been works closely with post-prison support organizations to provide additional counseling and other support for their employees.

  3. Moovers, Inc.

    Moovers, Inc. was founded in the Bay Area of California by former residents of Delancey Street, a nationally acclaimed residential facility that helps former ex-convicts as well as substance abusers and homeless men and women turn their lives around. Moovers, Inc. has since grown into a cross-country moving company, offering services on both the east and west coast. In addition to offering very competitive moving rates, their staff has a straightforward, no-nonsense approach to customer service.

  4. Felony Franks

    Chicago-based businessman Jim Andrews started the Felony Franks hot dog stand after a positive experience with hiring ex-convicts to work at his paper company. The hot dog stand opened in 2009, and features menu items like the "Misdemeanor Weiner" and "Pardon Polish" (as in Polish sausage). Andrews encourages business owners not to unfairly judge ex-convicts. "The ones that want to stay out of jail and make a better life for themselves just work harder," says Andrews. "They don’t want to go back and sit in prison."

  1. Belay Enterprises

    Belay Enterprises, a faith-based nonprofit located in Denver, Colo., has created businesses to employ ex-convicts, including Bud’s Warehouse, which supplies building materials, and Baby Bud’s, a secondhand children’s clothing store. Executive director James Reiner states on his blog, "Our positions are reserved for people who are shut out of the job market because of significant barriers to (being employable), including addiction, homelessness, and prison."

  2. Virgin Group

    Über-businessman and wanna-be spaceman Sir Richard Branson has publicly encouraged the managing directors of his Virgin Companies to hire ex-convicts. The United Kingdom organization Working Chance has worked with Branson to place ex-convicts in positions at Virgin. "I’ve had people at Virgin who have been caught stealing, and I’ve given them a second chance," says Branson. "One kid was taking albums sent to us by record companies. … [By] giving him a second chance, he became one of the best employees we ever had."

  3. Triple Thread Apparel

    Located in Nashville, Tenn., Triple Thread Apparel was started in 2010 by Vanderbilt University senior Kyle McCollom, who was volunteering at Dismas House, a residential facility housing both college students and former prisoners. McCollom understood there will always be a demand from college campuses for custom T-shirts. That demand helps him to achieve his overriding goal of helping ex-convicts turn around their lives. Triple Thread Apparel’s net profits are invested back into Dismas House.

  4. Dave’s Killer Bread

    Baker Dave Dahl has spent 15 years of his life in at least 10 different prisons for various drug-related offenses. His brother Glenn was hopeful when Dave began to turn around his life, taking medication for depression and enrolling in vocational classes while finishing his time in prison. After Dave’s release, he, Glenn, and Glenn’s son Shobi became partners in the family baking business. Dave surprised everyone with an original recipe for what Glenn immediately called "killer" bread. The name stuck. Dave’s Killer Bread, packaged in a bag with Dave’s story printed on its label, is sold through the brothers’ Healthy Bread Store at Killer Breadquarters in Milwaukie, Ore.

20 Cases Solved By Using Facebook

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10 Best Songs About Prison

"I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," "Dance the Night Away:" these are three of the most well-worn lyrical themes found in pop songs. But dig a little deeper into the 20th and 21st century songbook, and you’ll discover a large and varied repertoire of music directly inspired by the prison experience. In fact, there are so many examples in blues, country, rock, and hip hop of songs about prison, that you could argue getting locked up is as common a subject for a song lyric as boy meets girl. Here are 10 classic songs, most of them widely known, that support this point.

  1. "Folsom Prison Blues (Live)" performed by Johnny Cash

    This is the opening number from the 1968 live album At Folsom Prison, recorded by the late great Johnny Cash before a loud, rowdy, and — as you can hear right after Cash introduces himself — thoroughly appreciative audience. "Prisoners are the greatest audience that an entertainer can perform for," writes Cash in the album’s liner notes. "They’re not ashamed to respond and show their appreciation."

  2. "Mama Tried" performed by Merle Haggard

    Merle Haggard’s classic "Mama Tried" simply and concisely conveys the feelings of its guilt-ridden narrator, a young "one and only rebel child," who ignores his mother’s pleas to straighten up and behave and ends up in prison serving "life without parole." The respect the young imprisoned man now affords his mother comes across in Haggard’s lyrics and delivery, and offers a glimpse of redemption in the bleakest of circumstances.

  3. "Jailbreak" performed by Thin Lizzy

    Probably the cheeriest song on this list, Thin Lizzy’s "Jailbreak" is more of a metal club banger than a realistic account of escaping from an actual brick-and-mortar prison. It’s quite possible Thin Lizzy lead singer Phil Lynott just liked the threat and aggression implicit in the word "jailbreak" and crafted a lyric around it. "Jailbreak," along with "The Boys Are Back In Town," made Thin Lizzy international superstars, and both songs enjoy eternal rotation on American FM radio.

  4. "Chain Gang" performed by Sam Cooke

    Singer Sam Cooke composed, arranged, and produced nearly all of his recorded output. He’s also responsible for some of the most powerfully socially conscious songs of the 20th century, including the well-known "A Change Is Gonna Come." "Chain Gang," released in 1960, was inspired by a chance meeting with a chained group of prisoners working on a highway Cooke was traveling during a tour. The background chant is quite consciously reminiscent of the rhythm and cadences heard on field recordings of actual prisoners, including "Po’ Lazarus," included on this list.

  5. "The Mercy Seat" performed by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

    Recorded while lead singer Nick Cave was in the throes of heroin addiction, the first-person lyrics of "The Mercy Seat" describe the conviction and impending electrocution of an unrepentant prisoner who may or may not be innocent of his crimes. Cave and the Bad Seeds have performed this song in a variety of ways, sometimes slowing down the tempo and stripping down the number of accompanying instruments. The relentless panicked poetry of the lyrics and simple melody of the refrain make this song a contemporary example of prison folk blues.

  6. "Murder Was The Case" performed by Snoop Dogg

    Recorded in 1994 for the soundtrack to the short film of the same name, "Murder Was The Case" dropped at a time when murder, and the possibility of gang violence, was either subtly or explicitly referenced in the lyrics of both East and West Coast rappers. On this track, Snoop Dogg is resurrected from a certain death by shooting thanks to a deal he makes with the devil who, as the devil is wont to do, sends him to prison once their deal is broken.

  7. "Po Lazarus" performed by James Carter and prisoners

    Beginning back in the 1930s, folklorist and historian Alan Lomax and his father, John, visited several prisons in the South to record and archive the inmates’ work songs. This 1959 recording by Lomax of a group of Mississippi prisoners singing the work song "Po’ Lazarus" appears on the Grammy award-winning film soundtrack O Brother Where Art Thou? James Carter, the lead singer heard on "Po’ Lazarus," was tracked down by the producers of the soundtrack, paid $20,000, and credited for his decades-old performance.

  8. "Women’s Prison" performed by Loretta Lynn

    Country singer and songwriter Loretta Lynn has never been one to pull punches when it came to the lyrics of her songs. Over the course of her career, she’s written and sung songs about spousal abuse, infidelity, and the pill, much to the horror of conservative country radio, and on more than one occasion had her music banned from the airwaves. "Women’s Prison," another great addition to Lynn’s repertoire of blue-collar women’s songs, comes from her comeback album Van Lear Rose, produced by young rock singer and guitarist Jack White.

  9. "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" performed by Public Enemy

    "I got a letter from the government / the other day / opened it and read it / it said they were suckers!" So begins Public Enemy’s "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," featuring a harrowing lyric by MC Chuck D describing his arrest and imprisonment for dodging the draft and an ensuing prison riot and breakout. It’s a fantasy of course, but one inspired by the reality of America’s out-of-control military and prison industry.

  10. "Back On The Chain Gang" performed by The Pretenders

    While the lyrics to "Back On The Chain Gang" aren’t explicitly about prison, the background chant in the refrain, directly referencing Sam Cooke’s "Chain Gang," and lines describing separation of two friends or lovers by "the powers that be," speak to a poetic "prison" from which there may be no escape. This song was written as an elegy for The Pretenders’ founding guitarist James Honeyman-Scott who died of an overdose early in their career. Perhaps referring to the troubled Honeyman-Scott, lead singer and songwriter Chrissie Hynde vows that those powers will "fall to ruin one day / for making us part."

Top 10 Films Based on Real-Life Crimes

Hollywood does a good job of coming up with compelling and realistic movie plots, but they just don’t compare to the cinematic depictions of real-life crimes. Some of the best crime movies are inspired by real criminal acts and events that have shaped society and changed the way we view and punish crimes. Here are the top 10 films based on real-life crimes.

  1. Zodiac (2007)

    Zodiac is a mystery-thriller that chronicles the ongoing hunt for the infamous Zodiac serial killer, who murdered at least seven people in the San Francisco bay area during the late ’60s and ’70s. Jake Gyllenhaal plays San Francisco Chronicle decode the killer’s encrypted letters political cartoonist-turned-crime author, Robert Graysmith, who tried to that were sent to the police and newspaper. Despite years of investigation, the Zodiac murders still remain unsolved.

  2. Public Enemies (2009)

    Public Enemies chronicles the story of notorious bank robber John Dillinger and his gang of outlaws as they escape from prison and outrun the FBI. Johnny Depp gave a critically acclaimed performance as Dillinger, and Christian Bale plays Melvin Purvis, the real-life FBI agent who led the manhunt that eventually ended the outlaws’ crime spree.

  3. Summer of Sam (1999)

    Spike Lee’s crime drama Summer of Sam is based on the real-life Son of Sam serial murders that took place in New York City during the summer of 1977. The film follows one tight-knit Italian-American neighborhood that has grown fearful for their lives and begins to suspect one another of being the killer.

  4. Goodfellas (1990)

    The hit film, Goodfellas, is based on the real-life story of Mafioso Henry Hill and his rise from a small-time gangster to a convicted criminal, whose testimony helped bring down some of New York’s most notorious mobsters. Hill, played by Ray Liotta, enters the Witness Protection Program to protect himself and his family’s life, and later becomes an FBI informant.

  5. American Gangster (2007)

    American Gangster tells the true story of Harlem drug kingpin, Frank Lucas, who was famous for smuggling heroin into the U.S. by way of American soldiers’ coffins from the Vietnam War. Denzel Washington plays the innovative drug dealer who is investigated and arrested by detective Richie Roberts, played by Russell Crowe.

  6. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

    Dog Day Afternoon is based on the real robbery of a Brooklyn bank in 1972. The film was inspired by the events recorded in P.F. Kluge’s article “The Boys in the Bank.” Al Pacino plays the first-time bank robber, Sonny Wortzik, who hopes to steal enough money to help his lover undergo a sex change operation, but what was supposed to be a quick transaction turns into a day-long siege that ends in tragedy.

  7. Donnie Brasco (1997)

    Crime drama Donnie Brasco tells the story of undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone and his work to uncover the crimes of a large New York mafia family. Pistone, played by Johnny Depp, assumes the new name of Donnie Brasco, a street burglar, and joins the Bonnano family. Brasco’s undercover work helped bring down 120 mobsters who received life sentences.

  8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

    Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can is an award-winning comedy-drama about real-life conman Frank Abagnale Jr., played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his journey to becoming one of the most innovative and skilled criminals in U.S. history. At only 19 years old, Abagnale made millions by posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a parish prosecutor.

  9. Monster (2003)

    Monster is a crime drama based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a real prostitute-turned-serial killer who was executed for murdering six men in Florida. Wuornos’ first victim was killed in self-defense, but she continues to rob and murder her clients to support her and her lover, Selby Wall, played by Christina Ricci. Actress Charlize Theron won an Academy Award for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Wuornos in the film.

  10. Blow (2001)

    Blow tells the real-life story of American cocaine smuggler George Jung, played by Johnny Depp, and his journey to becoming one of the world’s most prolific drug dealers. But his success and wealth come back to haunt him when he’s betrayed by his wife, Mirtha, who plants a stash of cocaine in his car which lands him a 60-year prison sentence.

Top 10 Books Written Behind Bars

Since the time of Saint Paul, great writing has come to us from authors in prison. Such works include thoughtful memoirs describing the author’s spiritual journey toward redemption. Other works are unapologetic, even decadent, provoking never-ending debate as to their literary value. Here are 10 examples of inspiring, influential, and provocative books that were written behind bars.

  1. Cell 2455, Death Row: A Condemned Man’s Own Story by Caryl Chessman

    In 1948, Caryl Chessman received the death penalty for robbery, kidnapping, and rape. While serving his time in San Quentin State Prison, Chessman wrote a memoir, Cell 2455, as well as other books about crime and the prison system. Although relatively unknown today, Chessman’s case drew attention and support from around the world. He even appeared on the cover of the March 21, 1960, issue of Time Magazine. Chessman was executed after 12 years on death row and eight stays of execution.

  2. In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison by Jack Abbott

    Jack Abbott’s letters to author Norman Mailer describing life in prison were published in 1981 as In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison. Mailer recognized Abbott’s talent and successfully campaigned he be released on parole after having served several years for forgery, stabbing another inmate to death, and robbing a bank after briefly escaping from prison. Tragically, just a few weeks after his release, Abbott stabbed a man to death. He returned to prison, where he eventually ended his life by suicide.

  3. Conversations With Myself by Nelson Mandela

    Former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela was imprisoned from 1964 to 1990 for his role in the apartheid resistance movement. Conversations With Myself includes several of Mandela’s writings done while in prison. Critics and historians have noted the collection provides a fascinating emotional subtext to South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. "Until I was jailed," writes Mandela. "I never fully appreciated the capacity of memory."

  4. Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution (Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters) compiled by Wally Lamb

    New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb has taught writing to women in prison for many years. Couldn’t Keep It to Myself is a collection of essays by women he’s taught, each now empowered by their ability to convey their life stories in writing. Bonnie Foreshaw, who contributed to the collections, says, "What I hope is that people reading this book will bear in mind that we are human beings first, inmates second."

  5. Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars by Kenneth Hartman

    Kenneth Hartman is a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and a published author. Since 1990, he’s served a life sentence with no possibility of parole for killing a man in a drunken fistfight. He was only 19 at the time of his conviction. In his memoir, Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars, Hartman unflinchingly describes his literary and spiritual journey without a trace of self-pity. A recording of Hartman reading the first chapter of Mother California is available on his website.

  6. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

    Jean Genet wrote what would become his first published novel, Our Lady of the Flowers, while in Santé Prison, initially on brown paper provided to prisoners to create paper bags. The novel’s collage-like structure, explicit descriptions of homosexuality, and mixture of poetry and slang was hugely influential on the writing of the American Beats. Genet biographer Edmund White wrote of Our Lady of the Flowers, "If anyone in prison had bothered actually to read what he was writing, Genet would have been in trouble, since his work made clear he had no intention of reforming, getting a job and renouncing crime."

  7. Soul On Ice by Eldridge Cleaver

    While serving a sentence for marijuana possession at Soledad Correctional Training Facility and another later sentence at San Quentin State Prison for attempted murder, Eldridge Cleaver read and found himself inspired by the writings of Karl Marx, Thomas Paine, and Malcolm X to name just a few. His still-controversial 1968 collection of essays Soul on Ice, mostly written while he was in prison, had a profound influence on the black power movement and established his status as one of the most influential American political activists of the ’60s and ’70s. The beginning of The Black Panthers’ complex history and Cleaver’s own political and spiritual development begins in this brutal, intelligently written memoir.

  8. Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    German Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer participated in the German resistance movement against Nazism. He was imprisoned and ultimately hung for his involvement in plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer’s posthumously published Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography, appearing for the first time in English translation in 1953, influenced both Christian and secular thinkers, activists, and leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

  9. By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives by Judith Tannenbaum

    Writer Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson met at San Quentin State Prison where Jackson was serving a sentence for murder. By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives is a collaborative memoir, born out of their connection as teacher and pupil and as fellow poets. The book alternates chapter by chapter between Tannenbaum and Jackson to tell the life stories of two very different people, each with "one foot in darkness, the other in light."

  10. Death Around the Corner by C-Murder

    Written during his electronically monitored house arrest, C-Murder’s Death Around the Corner is a fictional account of growing up young, black, and poor in New Orleans’ Calliope projects. C-Murder, real name Corey Miller, drew on his own life experience to tell the story of Daquan, a young man whose father is jailed for a murder Daquan witnesses as a child. There’s a moral center to the book that elevates the matter-of-fact descriptions of drug abuse, sex, and violence to that of great, autobiographical literature. A chapter describing Daquan’s visit to see his imprisoned father is one of the book’s many surprisingly poignant and effective moments. Miller’s life sentence for murder was recently upheld, and he is currently serving his sentence in Louisiana State Penitentiary.

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