An Arlington, TX police officer recently discovered a teen smoking weed on public property outside a local movie theater. Since the boy was respectful, the cop gave the boy a choice – either he could get arrested or do 200 push-ups as his punishment. He chose the latter. Afterwards, Officer Eric Ball reportedly went and found the kid’s mother, who reportedly thanked him and told him she would’ve made him do even more push-ups.
Libby Prison in Richmond, VA was one of the most notorious prison camps of the Civil War, where thousands of Union prisoners were held in a converted warehouse for months or years under austere conditions. By 1863, one thousand prisoners were crowded into large open rooms on two floors, with open, barred windows leaving them exposed to weather and temperature extremes. The Confederates believed the prison was escape-proof, but the above podcast by Futility Closet shows how a determined group of prisoners proved them wrong.
During the night of Feb. 9, 1864, 109 Union officers squeezed through a narrow tunnel and fled a Confederate prison notorious for its wretched and overcrowded living conditions, starvation rations and the casual cruelty of its commanders. Of those escaping, 48 were captured, two drowned and 59 successfully reached Union lines.
Today, Pennsylvania law considers kidnapping to be a felony, but in 1874, it was a misdemeanor. Until the kidnapping of two young brothers: four-year-old Charley Ross and his five-year-old older brother Christian by two men. Christian was set free the same day, but Charley was not. The boys’ father went to the police, who didn’t take the case seriously – until, that is, the first ransom note showed up.
Somebody had written the message—ridden with errors in spelling, capitalization and punctuation—in black ink and an unsteady hand. “You wil have to pay us before you git him from us, and pay us a big cent to,” the note read. “if you put the cops hunting for him you is only defeeting yu own end.”
The second came five days later, stating the ransom amount: “This is the lever that moved the rock that hides him from yu $20,000. Not one doler les—impossible—impossible—you cannot get him without it.” (The sum of $20,000 in 1874 was the equivalent of about $400,000 today.)
With this demand, the letter writers recorded the first ransom kidnapping in U.S. history. They told Christian Ross to correspond with them through the personal advertisements of the Philadelphia Public Ledger.
Unfortunately, Charley Ross never returned home. Supposedly more than 700,000 fliers were distributed and the stories of more than 600 children who resembled his son were investigated. Well into the twentieth century, men came forward claiming to be Charley Ross, but the Ross family did not believe them.
That might have been it, had it not been for a Pennsylvania librarian who this year discovered 22 letters in her family’s possession, which turned out to be the original ransom notes in the case, long since thought to have been lost. How did her family come to have them? You’ll have to check out the Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog to find out.
Here’s an interesting article on psychological tactics individuals can use to avoid being arrested by law enforcement. In his book, Arrest-Proof Yourself, former Miami-Dade police officer and FBI Agent Dale Carlson shares his four golden rules, of which the most important appears to “be boring.” Some of it is common sense, but it’s still interesting reading nonetheless. An excerpt:
The rule extends to activities that are perfectly legal. “In 21st century America,” he writes, “as long as you’re not committing a crime, you should be able to wear the wildest clothes you want, roam the streets when you feel like it, and lean on a light post or hang out at some wild club if it amuses you.” “Should” is the key word. In reality, cops love hassling people who stand out, even though it’s not illegal to, say, have a Buckeyes bumper sticker that looks like a pot leaf. If you drive a sports car or a lowrider, you’re more likely to attract a cop’s attention than if you drive, say, a gray Honda Civic. Same goes for clothes, hairstyles, tone and volume of voice. Be boring.
So try to blend in. Beat cops who patrol the same routes day after day are “incredibly attuned to incongruity.” But don’t be too reactive when you see cops. “Police are visual predators,” Carson writes. “Any sudden change in motion, speed, direction or behavior immediately attracts their attention.” That means even if you’re doing something you think might attract a cop’s attention, quickly doing something else will attract even more attention. “Don’t alter the pattern,” Carson advises. “Keep on keeping on.”
An Ex-Cop’s Guide to Not Getting Arrested [via The Atlantic Cities]
In 2008, while the fictional Walter White first began building his methamphetamine empire on AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad, a real meth chef by the same name was arrested for manufacturing and trafficking the drug in Alabama. White was featured in a VICE documentary released yesterday about his adventures as one of the best crystal meth cooks in the state.
“My name is Walter White and I’m a meth cook,” White said in the documentary. “For 10 years I had the best meth in Alabama. If you wanted the best meth, you had to come this way, you had to come to me.”
White added at the height of his meth-making and drug-selling business, he was making several thousand dollars a day.
Yes, you read that right. Illegal just for Halloween. The reason is due to a 2004 ordinance enacted by the Los Angeles City Council to help reduce the costs associated with post-Halloween clean-up of silly string. As described in a 2004 public LAPD announcement discussing the isssue:
For the past eight years, Hollywood Boulevard has struggled with what may seem like a “silly” problem. Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn recently signed a council-backed ordinance (LAMC Section 56.02) to ban Silly String in Hollywood on Halloween night. The ordinance was introduced and championed by Los Angeles City Council members for Hollywood, Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge in direct response to the requests of Hollywood Boulevard property owners. The ordinance calls for a maximum $1000 fine and/or six months in jail for use, possession, sale or distribution of Silly String in Hollywood from 12:01 a.m. on October 31 to 12:00 p.m. on November 1.
On a typical Halloween night, up to 100,000 people come to Hollywood Boulevard in search of something to do. Given the lack of a formal event, hundreds of illegal vendors flock to the street and sell Silly String which then becomes the sole source of entertainment for the night.
Loa Angeles City personnel are deployed from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), Department of Transportation, Bureau of Street Services and Department of Sanitation to protect and clean up the Silly String “event.” The financial costs to the city are detrimental as they exceed $200,000 for this one night.
Twenty-two year old Matthew Cordle was the Ohio man who gained nationwide attention for publicly admitting he killed a man while driving drunk on June 22 of this year. Today Cordle was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison and a lifetime suspension of his driver’s license, along with a $1,075 fine in addition to court costs. The judge in the case had the youtube video Cordle made played in the courtroom as an official part of the hearing.
“It should have been me instead of an innocent man. I vow that I’ll do everything I can to prevent it from happening again and his memory from fading,” Cordle was reported as having told the judge.
Welcome to Halden Prison, which is the newest prison in Norway. Prisoners share kitchens and living rooms every 10–12 cells, jogging trails, and a sound studio. There are cooking and music classes offered. Half the guards are women and guards are typically unarmed because guns “[create] unnecessary intimidation and social distance”. Prisoners receive questionnaires that ask how their prison experience can be improved.
According to deputies, Lopez knew she’d immediately be arrested, and slapped a cop to kick a habit. Lopez allegedly admitted she sat in front of the county jail for hours intent on assaulting an officer to get arrested and be put in jail, where she would be forced to stop smoking cigarettes.
“There’s easier ways to stop smoking besides hitting a cop,” Roger Spearman, a neighbour, said. The neighbour Lopez says she does smoke a lot, and they used to smoke together. “I have not heard of something like that before,” Kimberly Bankston-Lee with the anti-smoking group Breathe California said. “If it led somebody to doing something like that to quit, that lets us know in the community that we have a real problem.”