Crimes and Their Punishments – Through the Ages

Punishments for Crimes through the ages – from the bizarre to outrageous, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We don’t know how lucky we are!

Many of us are apt to complain about sentences handed out by our Courts for crimes these days – too harsh, too lenient. But a quick look at some punishments for crimes through the ages, including in some countries today, we should really consider how much we really have to complain about.

Not only have punishments been truly shocking (and in some instances still are), but even some of the crimes are truly unbelievable.

Many Sydney criminal lawyers would have had their work cut out for them if some of these historical crimes were still on the statute books! Lucky for us that our complaints about the justice systems these days are limited to whether an offender should be given a jail sentence or community service, or whether a 2 year sentence is sufficient or whether 5 would have been better, and so on.

Thank goodness we don’t have to contend with crimes for which the penalty is being tortured to death by some truly unimaginable means. Criminal lawyers in Australia, as in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and others, these days don’t have to plead for the type of mercy that offenders of times gone by had to. And of course, some of these barbaric practices do still exist today in other parts of the globe, as you can see below.

Some Crimes and Some Punishments You Won’t Believe

Take a look …

Crimes and Their Punishments

Matthew Gray Gubler, Star of 'Criminal Minds', Thanks Crew in New Video and Photo – PopCulture.com

Matthew Gray Gubler expressed his gratitude to the cast and crew of Criminal Minds this week with posts on Twitter.

Gubler has played Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds for almost 15 years now, and the impending finale of the show is hitting him hard. The upcoming shortened season will be the show’s last, and as Gubler explained on Twitter this week, that means saying goodbye to people who are like family to him.

Gubler posted a video of himself arm-wrestling with a crew member at what appears to be a work party. He wears the typical dark suit and shaggy hair of his character, and looks to be at a pretty clear disadvantage in the fight. Predictably, it ends with him yelling as his arm goes steadily down.

Gubler ended the video with a Photoshopped tombstone with his own name on it. “Matthew Gray Gubler, 1980-2016,” it reads, with a funeral dirge playing in the background. “Good Man, Spaghetti Forearms.”

Gubler later shared a huge group photo, presumably encompassing the cast, crew and producers of the show. The main cast sat in the front on folding chairs while the people behind were gathered in a huge bunch, up a staircase and on a landing behind them. A few were even pictured on TVs and computer screens around the office space. Gubler captioned the photo with three red heart emojis.

Gubler later shared even more photos from behind the scenes of the show, and he will likely continue to do so for a while. Criminal Minds is ending its long run with a 10-episode season, which was shot back-to-back with Season 14. So far, CBS has not announced a premiere date for the last batch of episodes, but it is not on the fall 2019 schedule.

Season 14 wrapped up back in February, so chances are good that Season 15 is already finished. Now it is just a matter of when fans will get to see it, but for the cast and crew, the show is done. Season 14 was shortened to 15 episodes, ending the show’s streak of full season orders.

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The show also stars actors like Paget Brewster, Aisha Tyler and Kirsten Vangness, among others. In the past, stars like Shemar Moore and Mandy Maptinkin have had long runs on the series. Gubler has outlasted all of them, starring in all 15 seasons of the show. In the end, he will be credited with 325 episodes.

The first 12 seasons of Criminal Minds are streaming now on Netflix. Check back here for the Season 15 release date on CBS.

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Amazon just won the battle over whether it can sell its controversial facial recognition technology to the government (AMZN)

Rekognition demo

  • Two shareholder proposals about Amazon’s controversial facial recognition technology were voted down at the company’s shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
  • One proposal would have prevented the Seattle tech giant from selling the software to government agencies.
  • The decision comes after civil rights advocates vocally opposed their opposition to government use of the technology.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. 

Two proposals concerning Amazon’s controversial facial recognition software failed to pass at the company’s shareholders meeting on Wednesday, according to reports from CNET and TechCrunch.

The first proposal would have prevented the Seattle tech giant from selling the software — called Rekognition — to the government, while the other would have required an independent human rights group to study the technology.

The decision marks a contentious turning point in a saga that put Amazon at odds with activist shareholders and civil rights groups, which have vocally opposed government use of facial recognition due to privacy concerns.

But with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos controlling a significant, though not a majority, stake in the company he founded and many large institutional shareholders holding similar voting rights as Bezos, it was a long shot that the proposals would pass. 

Rekognition, which Amazon launched in 2016, can identify people and objects in both videos and photos and has been used by government groups as well as media organizations. Amazon said the software has been used to rescue victims of human trafficking, for example, and Sky News used it to identify celebrities attending the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last year.

But the technology has been heavily criticized by civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which has raised concerns over Rekognition’s accuracy and its potential to be used for surveillance. Last July, the organization found that the facial recognition software incorrectly identified 28 members of Congress with images of people who had been arrested. Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, the ACLU published an open letter urging shareholders to back both proposals.

Amazon has said in a previous statement to Business Insider that it has been working with working with academics, researchers, customers, and lawmakers to balance the “benefits of facial recognition technology with the potential risks.”

The decision comes after Amazon unsuccessfully requested that the SEC block the proposals in January. The company is expected to share a filing with the final vote tally later this week.

Read more about the ongoing controversy regarding Amazon’s Rekognition software here.

SEE ALSO: People dressed as poop emojis and other protesters are swarming Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting in Seattle

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'Criminal Minds': See the Entire Cast Transform Over the Years – PopCulture.com

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Jeff Adachi leak: Chief Bill Scott describes raid of journalist's home as investigation of alleged co-conspirator and active participant in a crime – Mission Local

The San Francisco Police Department is criminally investigating freelance journalist Bryan Carmody as an alleged co-conspirator in the leaking of a police report documenting the late public defender Jeff Adachi’s sudden February death.

As such, the May 10 raid of Carmody’s home was not so much to ferret out his internal source but, rather, to further establish the SFPD’s allegation that he was an “active participant” in a crime and a purported “co-conspirator.”

Police Chief William Scott announced this at a hastily arranged press conference Tuesday afternoon at SFPD Headquarters. “Our actions reflect that we believe Mr. Carmody was a suspect in a criminal conspiracy to steal this confidential report,” Scott said, reading from a prepared statement.

Though Scott spoke generally of respecting journalists’ rights to receive illicitly leaked reports, he said Carmody’s alleged actions and those of the police officers he allegedly worked with, “crossed the line.”

“Crossing the line is when we believe that he was a part of that effort to illegally obtain this report,” Scott said. The chief said that Carmody would have had two motives to do this: financial gain and the opportunity to smear Adachi. While Carmody has told media he had “no beef” against the deceased public defender, who frequently clashed with the SFPD, Scott claims that, during a consensual interview with officers, Carmody expressed animus against Adachi.

“We believe for this to be successfully pulled off there needed to be contact between an SFPD employee and Mr. Carmody,” Scott said. “We believe that activity … went past doing [his] job as a journalist.”

Carmody, who earlier told reporters that he obtained the report as a standard leak, opted not to comment today. “I can’t talk about anything until I talk to a criminal lawyer,” he said. “I just can’t talk about this.” Carmody said that journalist James Risen, the director of the Freedom of the Press Defense Fund, had earlier offered to help procure a criminal defense attorney for him if it came to this, and Carmody said he would now take up that offer.

Scott said he has not yet identified the SFPD employee or employees who allegedly leaked the report.

The chief sidestepped questions about whether the department had sufficient evidence to obtain a search warrant of Carmody’s home. California’s Shield Law broadly restricts the issuance of warrants for search and seizure of a journalist’s materials.

“We had some evidence,” Scott told reporters. “And the purpose of a search warrant is to have enough probable cause to further the investigation.”

This statement, however, confused legal experts. “In fact, the standard to get a warrant is probable cause,” said Geoffrey King, an attorney and UC Berkeley lecturer.

The state’s shield law and related Section 1524(g) of the penal code, King continued, “are absolute in their terms. The burden is on the state to show there’s an exception when you have such an incredibly clear statute.”

Scott, throughout today’s 20-minute press conference, spoke of how lessons could be learned and, perhaps, things could have been done differently. But, ultimately King says, “Scott is trying to defend the indefensible. And that’s hard.”

Earlier this morning, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge heard preliminary arguments over whether the court should unseal the SFPD’s application for the warrant to search Carmody’s home. David Snyder of First Amendment Coalition, which filed the motion to unseal the application, said that this document would reveal what the SFPD told the judges who ultimately signed off on the warrant about Carmody’s status as a journalist.

“That will help figure out where the process went off the rails,” he said.

In this vein, Scott during his later press conference spoke of Carmody’s credentials. He stated that Carmody’s Linkedin profile shows … “he was not employed by any of the news organizations who received the stolen report.”

But this, too, was a confusing statement. The state’s shield law clearly protects freelance journalists, so who Carmody was employed by is irrelevant.

The chief further noted that “there were communications with the District Attorney throughout the investigation,” but no consultation regarding the warrant or subsequent raid. Responding to questions about its involvement in the investigation, a spokesperson for the DA’s office referred to District Attorney George Gascon’s Monday tweet.

My office has not seen the warrant or the facts upon which it was based,” Gascon wrote, “but absent a showing that a journalist broke the law to obtain the information that police are looking for, I can’t imagine a situation in which a search warrant would be appropriate.”

Thomas Burke, a First Amendment attorney who has been representing Carmody since the raid, told Mission Local over the phone: “I have heard about the press conference and I’m not making any comments at this point.”

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Facebook's CTO is so shaken by the scope of the social network's problems that it has made him cry (FB)

Mike Schroepfer facebook

The pressure Facebook has faced trying to eliminate violent and offensive content from the platform is enough to make a grown person cry — literally, if you ask Facebook executive Mike Schroepfer.

Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, teared up several times during a series of interviews with The New York Times about the platform’s recent policing efforts. Criticism of the platform has ramped up since the terrorist attacks in March on Christchurch, New Zealand, during which the shooter livestreamed his attack on Facebook.

Schroepfer “choked up” when talking about “the scale of the issues that Facebook was confronting and his responsibilities in changing them,” The Times reported.

“It won’t be fixed tomorrow,” Schroepfer said about Facebook’s efforts. “But I do not want to have this conversation again six months from now. We can do a much, much better job of catching this.”

Read more: Facebook is dialing up punishments for users who abuse live video after the Christchurch massacre

The CTO is known for “often” letting his feelings shows, “many” people told The Times. A former Facebook employee, Jocelyn Goldfein, a venture capitalist, said she’d seen Schroepfer cry in the office when she worked for the social platform.

Schroepfer has been tasked with building artificial-intelligence tools for Facebook that will better work to detect harmful content, and can prevent something like the Christchurch shooting from being broadcasted on Facebook again.

To figure out how Facebook’s technology can best identify the next terrorist-related video, Schroepfer had to watch the gruesome footage of the shooting “several times,” according to The Times.

“I wish I could unsee it,” Schroepfer said.

Facebook has taken some steps to avoid an incident like the New Zealand shooting livestream from repeating itself. The platform has implemented a “one strike” policy that blocks users immediately from livestreaming if they violate Facebook’s “most serious” rules.

The company has invested $7.5 million into research on better techniques for detecting videos that have been manipulated, which is how millions of repostings of the Christchurch shooting got past Facebook’s automated system and spread online.

Schroepfer told The Times that his task of removing harmful posts is a complex one without an “endgame.”

He said the number of posts is “never going to go to zero.”

SEE ALSO: Google is scanning your Gmail inbox to keep a detailed list of your purchases, and there’s no easy way to erase it

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Criminal Minds' Joe Mantegna Films Final Episode After 12 Years: 'I'll Miss Playing David Rossi' – PEOPLE.com

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Texas prosecutors want to keep low-level criminals out of overcrowded jails. Top Republicans and police aren't happy. – The Texas Tribune

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot announced policy reforms last month that he said would be “a step forward” in ending mass incarceration in Dallas. His plans include decreasing the use of excessively high bail amounts and no longer prosecuting most first-time marijuana offenses.

But part of his plan included a decision not to prosecute thefts of personal items under $750 that are stolen out of necessity. Immediately, Creuzot came under fire from state officials and police leaders who said the policy was irresponsible and would encourage criminal activity.

Creuzot said he didn’t arbitrarily pick that $750 threshold — that’s the value of stolen items that state law dictates will result in people being charged with no more than a Class B misdemeanor.

“I’ve been in criminal justice for 37 years, and I’ve seen people steal because they’re hungry, and I’ve seen the system react where the cases are dismissed or react in a more harsh manner where incarceration is requested,” Creuzot said. “But the reality of it is putting a person in jail is not going to make their situation any better.”

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But the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, the largest police union in the state, called for Creuzot to step down. Gov. Greg Abbott fired off a series of tweets criticizing the policy and wrote a joint letter with Attorney General Ken Paxton that said the DA should reconsider his position and leave criminal justice reforms up to the Legislature.

“Reform is one thing. Actions that abandon the rule of law and that could promote lawlessness are altogether different,” the letter said.

Creuzot’s policy and the ensuing backlash highlight growing tensions among local district attorneys who want to reform a criminal justice system they say is broken and other public officials who believe that letting criminals skate could make cities more dangerous.

And Dallas is far from the only place in Texas — or the United States — where such debates are playing out.

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“There is a movement across this country to ensure that our criminal justice systems are really about justice,” said Brianna Brown, deputy director of the Texas Organizing Project, which endorsed Creuzot in his election last year. “I think there’s been a real wake-up call, especially on the progressive side, about how do we figure out a way to really make an impact in everyday people’s lives, in particular folks of color who have been so disproportionately impacted by the kind of policies that have come to warehouse black and brown families across this country.”

A new area of reform

District attorneys, the elected officials responsible for prosecuting crimes on behalf of the state in the jurisdictions where they reside, have immense discretion in the cases they choose to pursue — or ones they choose not to prosecute.

But it’s only been in recent years that DAs across the country have begun tapping into this power, enacting policies they say can go a long way to ending problems like mass incarceration and court docket overcrowding in their jurisdictions.

“The system is bursting at the seams. There’s not a lot more room to put people, and we have to find a way to shrink the system,” said Jay Jenkins, Harris County project attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. “The efforts at reforming police thus far have proven not effective at treating the system. The efforts of judicial accountability have not proven effective at shrinking the system. And so the reform movement is moving to the next most important person in this process, which is the district attorney.”

In 2016, District Attorney Kim Foxx in Illinois outlined policy reforms that included declining to charge shoplifters with a felony unless they stole more than $1,000 worth of goods or had 10 prior felony convictions — a huge leap from the $300 threshold for felony theft convictions in previous years.

Two years later, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said he would handle retail theft cases under $500 as summary offenses, which are similar to traffic violations and often result in fines.

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This year alone, district attorneys in New York and Missouri included theft policies among their lists of reforms. In Suffolk County, New York, District Attorney Rachael Rollins said she would decline to prosecute shoplifting and larceny, or theft of another person’s property, under $250. And Wesley Bell in St. Louis said he would issue a court summons, not an arrest warrant, for certain low-level felonies — including theft of items over $750.

The list goes on; in the last two years, district attorneys in Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Washington and Tennessee have enacted various reform policies in their jurisdictions.

But it’s just not just theft cases that prosecutors are beginning to treat differently — and such policies have reached Texas, too. This year, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales announced he will soon begin a cite-and-release program that would give police the option of issuing a ticket for misdemeanor offenses like possession of marijuana, theft and driving with an invalid license. Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore announced last month that she was expanding Travis County’s practice of declining charges for cases involving trace amounts of drugs. And Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced in 2017 that she would send people convicted of certain marijuana offenses through a diversion court.

But advocates say the success of such reforms can be hard to measure. For one, many of these policies are brand new or only a few years old, and there is good data to indicate their outcomes. And success depends on what metric jurisdictions are measuring, like jail populations or the number of cases on local court dockets, for example.

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“It’s still such a new area of reform that we’re not sure exactly how it’s going to end up,” Jenkins said. “But it’s encouraging that the reform movement has expanded beyond just police accountability and beyond judicial accountability.”

He said it’s also a reflection of local jurisdictions’ need to prioritize criminal justice resources. When Creuzot took office, for example, the city had a backlog of 10,000 cases.

“It’s about discretion to tell the police that that is not worth our time and resources,” Jenkins said. “The DA’s office has a pie, and they can only spend that pie of resources. And they can choose, like most DAs, to spend that pie prosecuting low-level theft offenses and continue this cycle where we put poor people and black and brown people in jail, or they can take those resources in that pie … and commit those to solving rapes and murders.”

Law enforcement fears

But police officers in Dallas are still wary. While Michael Mata, president of Dallas Police Association, said some of the reforms Creuzot implemented are needed, he said police officers in the city feel they’re being blamed for enforcing the law on theft. He said officers already do everything they can to help people who steal because they are poor or hungry, and that “going public” with the policy is harmful to officers.

It’s creating a “belief that it’s an option, that we are choosing to enforce laws,” Mata said. “We are mandated to, especially if we have a complainant and he’s telling us, ‘No, I want to be a complainant, I want to file a complaint,’ and we have to. And that’s misinformation that erodes an already eroding relationship with the public. This isn’t helping us.”

Despite the opposition, Creuzot says he plans to stick to the reforms. As a felony district court judge in 1998, he founded the Dallas Initiative for Diversion and Expedited Rehabilitation and Treatment, known as DIVERT court. The court diverts nonviolent drug offenders to treatment and counseling programs instead of traditional criminal justice processing.

The program resulted in a 60% reduction in recidivism and saved over $9 for every dollar spent on the court, Creuzot said. He said his new reforms are largely based on the success he’s seen in the DIVERT court.

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A week after the announcement of his latest reform plans, Creuzot said in a statement that he was not directing police officers to stop making arrests for theft offenses and that the personal items in the plans included necessities like food, diapers and baby formula. And he said thefts for economic gain will still be prosecuted.

“Even $750 worth of bacon will get you prosecuted under my rules because you’re a thief. You’re not stealing $750 worth of bacon to eat it; you’re going to sell it,” Creuzot said.

Creuzot said the reform will affect only a handful of cases. The number of people who steal out of hunger, for example, is very small, and they’re usually stealing less than $100 worth of food — which is a Class C misdemeanor and is handled in municipal court.

He’s also pointed out that much of what he is implementing was part of his successful campaign for district attorney in November.

“People will say what they want and how they want, and I have no control over that. I know what the research shows; I know who’s supporting me — some of the most conservative individuals in the state are,” he said. “I won by 60%, so obviously these reforms and these ideas have support in the community.”

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Suspected Christchurch shooter charged with engaging in terror act

brenton tarrant christchurch shooter

  • New Zealand police have charged the man suspected of killing 51 people during a shooting rampage in Christchurch with engaging in a terror act.
  • The shooter, 19-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, also faces 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murder.
  • Legal experts told Reuters that Tarrant’s other charges hold higher maximum sentences, so it is likely the terror charge was added to show the seriousness of the incident.

New Zealand police have charged the man suspected of killing 51 people during a shooting rampage in Christchurch with engaging in a terror act.

Police informed families of victims and survivors of the updated charges, and made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon local time. The shooter, 19-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, also faces 51 counts of murder and 40 counts of attempted murder.

“The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement. The charge was filed under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act, which was introduced after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

According to Reuters, this is the first charge made under the terror legislation in the country’s history. Legal experts told Reuters that Tarrant’s other charges hold higher maximum sentences, so it is likely the terror charge was added to show the seriousness of the incident.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed not to speak the shooter’s name, and has previously declared the event a terrorist attack.

Tarrant is next due in court on June 14.

SEE ALSO: Suspect in New Zealand’s deadliest mass shooting to be charged with 50 counts of murder

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Ex-Macomb attorney prosecuted alleged sex offenders. Now she's representing R. Kelly – Detroit Free Press

Nicole Blank Becker was the head of the sex crimes unit when she left the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office last year.

Now, the private-practice attorney in Bingham Farms is defending one of the country’s most well-known R&B singers — R. Kelly — in an alleged sex crime case.

The singer was charged in Chicago in February with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, including three who were underage. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied any wrongdoing.

Blank Becker is one of six attorneys for the singer, and the only one currently from Michigan.

She said she worked for the Legal Aid Defender Office in Detroit and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office before joining the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office in 2005 and then moving to private practice in 2018..

The Oakland County resident, who focuses on sex crime cases throughout metro Detroit at her firm, Blank Law PC, said she started representing Kelly in March.

The Free Press emailed Blank Becker a few questions about her high-profile client:

Q: How did you come to represent R. Kelly?

A: Judge Vonda Evans, whom (I) have known since practicing in Detroit, had a connection to the R. Kelly camp. She immediately thought of me because of my experience with sex crimes. I had a number of meetings with Robert and then I was part of the team.

Q: How many times have you met with him, and what is he like?

A: I have met and spoke to Robert several times, too many to count. Robert happens to be a very intelligent, passionate and talented guy. Robert is human, he has his bad days, but for the most part he is working on his albums and thankful for his fans.

Q: Did you watch the docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly,” and, if so, what did you think of it and R. Kelly – before and then after meeting with your client?

A: I did watch the Lifetime Show. I found it disturbing and I strongly support victims of abuse coming forward. Having met Robert, after the show aired, there are definitely three sides to every story and the public at this point had only heard one.

Q: What did you think about R. Kelly’s outburst during the broadcast interview with Gayle King?

A: I consider the Robert Kelly that the world saw on (Gayle) King was a human outburst of emotion. Robert has been ostracized, blackballed and unable to work in order to support his children and himself. He finally got to the point where his emotions took over. We have all experienced a moment of breaking down, but typically during those delicate moments the whole world is not watching.

Q: What can you tell us about the case and R. Kelly’s side of the story?

A: I cannot speak about the facts of the case at all. 

Q: You used to put accused sex offenders in prison, now you’re defending them. How did you make that transition?

A:  I use the exact same skills, searching for truth and justice. Everyone I defend is not guilty. Anyone who is suspected of committing a crime has a right to have their rights protected. That is what I do, no matter what side I am on.

More: R&B singer R. Kelly under investigation in Detroit

More: Detroit filmmaker, who took on R. Kelly, named to Time 100 list

Contact Christina Hall: chall@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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