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The magazine of American University's Department of Justice, Law & Society Fall 2013



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CONTENTS 2 Welcome to Justice, Law and Society Bill Davies and Richard Bennett



Editors Jon Gould Margaret Weekes Managing Editor J. David Bowser Creative Mark Coleman Contributing Writers Richard Bennett J. David Bowser Fiona Brookman Bill Davies Robert Johnson Edward Maguire Sarah McIntosh April Thompson Cover Photographer Adam Fleddermann Contributing Photographers Michael Baney Fiona Brookman Sarah McIntosh

Liberty and Security is published by the Department of Justice, Law and Society. SPA: Justice, Law/Society School of Public Affairs American University 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016-8043 (202) 885-2948

On behalf of the Department of Justice, Law and Society (JLS) at American University, I am pleased to present Liberty and Security, a magazine that showcases the activities and achievements of our students, faculty, and alumni. JLS is home to some of the nation’s leading scholars in the fields of criminology, legal studies, and national security policy. Our faculty and students focus their research on a variety of timely and important issues, including crime, human rights, civil liberties, terrorism and political violence, policing, punishment, and constitutional law, to name just a few. Our mission is to educate students and conduct research on the nexus between the theoretical and the applied in the development of policy, the implementation of practice, and the advancement of scholarship. Our graduates have gone on to successful positions in academia, government, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, our faculty have been recognized for their accomplishments with a variety of awards, honors, and grants; invitations to speak at national and international conferences; and service on prestigious editorial and advisory boards. JLS is at an exciting point in its history. Beginning in January 2014, the department will change its name to Justice, Law and Criminology (JLC), to better reflect the breadth of our teaching and research. We will still be offering the same great classes we always have, and conducting important, high impact research of use to academicians, policymakers, and practitioners. Our new name will better represent that work. Liberty and Security also demonstrates the diversity of our activities. In this issue you’ll read about JLS professors Richard Bennett and Ed Maguire, who are active in addressing gangs and gang violence in the Caribbean; Professor Daniel Dreisbach, who studies Thomas Jefferson’s writings on the separation between church and state; JLS alumnus Adam Lankford, who has just published a new book on terrorists and martyrdom; and JLS’s undergraduate mock trial team, which in a short time has made a national name for itself. All of this plus news on JLS honors and scholarships and an excerpt from the work of Professor Robert Johnson await you in this issue. We hope that Liberty and Security will offer readers a brief glimpse into life here in American University’s Department of Justice, Law and Society and provide a transition to our new name. We aim to be rigorous, relevant, and connected – and we welcome you to connect with our community.


Dear Alumni, We want to hear from you. Please take a moment to register your contact information and send us updates on your recent activity so we can acknowledge you in future mailings. You can provide this and any additional information to our departmental email at Sincerely, The Department of Justice, Law & Society

Jon Gould Professor and Chair Department of Justice, Law and Society

CONNECT WITH US ONLINE Visit our main web page for any information concerning the Department of Justice, Law & Society at American University! Whether you’re an alum or a guest, visit us on Facebook for timely news, videos, photos, event listings and more!

3 Gang Violence and Policing in the Caribbean Edward Maguire and David Bowser

4 Homicide in the US: A Research Brief for American University


Fiona Brookman

6 Biography of a Metaphor: A Researcher Journeys Through the History of Jefferson's “Separation Between Church and State” April Thompson

8 Well Ordered in the Court: Student Reflections on the AU Mock Trial Team Sarah McIntosh

11 Poetry Exerpts >> Life Sentences >> Burnt Offerings Robert Johnson

12 Reconsidering Terrorism: Adam Lankford Visits AU to Discuss his Book on Martyrdom J. David Bowser

14 Justice, Law & Society Awards, Honors and Scholarships


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MS Students Ryan Almaguer Tanner Sanchez Mickael Silangil Alyssa Beers Zachary Thomas Shaun Bennett Krystal Urban Casey Boswell Alisa Valente Latoshia Butler Catherine Vatikiotis Nicholas Card Majoraca Weber Kristen Cesario Matthew Woodcock Elizabeth Chapman Nooresha Zariwala Kendall Clark Joanne Conelley PhD Students Jeffrey Davis Ari A Cohen Juliana Davis Kenneth S Leon Jordan Dematto BelenV. Lowrey Blakely Despres Alexandria England Patricia Fajen Farrah Fanara Angela Fortunato Laura Gabriele Mitchell Ginsberg Rebecca Goodman John Gregory Rebecca Hoffman Hayley Kornbleuth Laura Krause Andrew Larose Madeline McPherson Christina Medico Hannah Miller Adnan Mohamed Paige Nelson Antonio Nesbitt Ngoc-Anh Nguyen Jessica O'Shea Christopher Paparo Chad Parent Christopher Pintar Breana Pittman Dounya Rad Juliana Ramia Kenneth Rayner Mary Rogers Chindar Ryant Marissa San George

WELCOME TO JUSTICE, LAW & SOCIETY It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Department of Justice, Law and Society. Our distinguished faculty and challenging programs of study, combined with our location in Washington, D.C., create an exciting educational environment for motivated scholars who are seeking an intellectually engaging experience. Our multi-disciplinary department offers students a unique blend of disciplines, majors, course offerings, and faculty expertise. The faculty exposes students to both theoretical and practical learning experiences. Our classes are small, affording extensive interaction with faculty and fellow students. We encourage students to take advantage of exciting internship opportunities at the international, federal, state, district, and local levels in our metropolitan setting. We offer two bachelor’s degrees: one in Justice and Law, with concentrations in criminology and criminal justice, and the other in Law and Society, with concentrations in law and the humanities and law and the social sciences. This fall, we launched the Politics, Policy, and Law (PPL) Scholars Program, an innovative 3-year bachelor’s program with a major in Law and Society. Graduates of the Department of Justice, Law and Society have excelled in numerous professional careers, including law, law enforcement, government service, and public policy. They have successfully competed for Fulbright and Truman fellowships. They have pursued graduate degrees at leading universities and attended law school at, among other institutions, Harvard, Stanford, University of Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown. Some have joined the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and AmeriCorps, while others have worked for international organizations and NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Again, welcome to the department. Please let us know how we can assist you in your educational endeavors. Sincerely,

Bill Davies Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies / Department of Justice, Law and Society

GANG VIOLENCE AND POLICING IN THE CARIBBEAN By Edward Maguire and David Bowser Following the Caribbean gangs conference at AU in February 2012, Professors Richard Bennett and Edward Maguire have continued their research and advising on policing, gangs, and violence in the Caribbean. Over the past year, the two have presented their research in the Caribbean at numerous academic conferences, including the American Society of Criminology in November 2012 and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in March 2013. Professor Bennett delivered a presentation in the Cayman Islands in May of this year, and Professor Maguire gave presentations on gangs and gang violence in St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Thomas, and St. Martin. Additionally, Maguire visited Curacao and Aruba this summer to work with Dutch investigators on gang violence issues. Bennett and Maguire are also actively publishing their research on these issues. Bennett is currently writing a book, tentatively titled Policing in Paradise, on policing in three nations: Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad &Tobago. “It’s fascinating,” says Professor Bennett. “They all have approximately the same legal system, but with drastically different criminal justice results.” The book looks at how history and politics affect these outcomes. Maguire is currently writing a book on a community policing project he led in Gonzales, an impoverished community in Trinidad with a serious gang violence problem. Maguire and his colleagues worked with police, the faith community, and community leaders to test a strategy for reducing crime, fear, and disorder. The moment he remembers most from the project was viewing the bullet-ridden body of a 15 year old murder victim who was killed in his bedroom solely because of his stepfather’s gang affiliation. Maguire recalls the work on the project as being “intense, exhausting and rewarding, all at the same time.” The pair notes that American University has established itself as an important resource for a region that is struggling with runaway violence due, in part, to the growth of street gangs. They are currently writing a series of papers on crime and violence in the Caribbean with current and former JLS doctoral students, as well as colleagues from the U.S. and the Caribbean. They are confident that their work will add to the academic literature on policing, gangs, and violence, but they are also hoping to see their ideas reflected in more effective policy. L S

A Police Sergeant on guard at police headquarters in Nassau, Bahamas.


On behalf of the Department of Justice, Law and Society, I would like to welcome this fall's class of incoming graduate students to the JLS community! This department is home to some of the country's leading scholars in criminology, criminal justice, and law and society. Our distinctive department blends the work of scholars from many disciplines, including the social sciences, law, and the humanities. Truly an interdisciplinary department, Justice, Law and Society will allow you opportunities to carry out research on a variety of important issues, including crime, violence, terrorism, policing, punishment, and legal studies, to name just a few. As a graduate student in Justice, Law and Society, you will have many advantages. These include a diverse selection of courses, renowned faculty with a wide range of expertise, the ability to work closely with faculty on specialized research projects, and job opportunities in our nation's capital and beyond. An important part of our mission is to enhance your educational experience and to offer mentorship and guidance along the way, helping to shape the next generation of scholars, researchers, and policymakers. You are joining an exceptional cohort of students from various social science backgrounds, and you will build relationships with other passionate individuals, facilitating a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative educational experience. We want your transition into and through the program to be as smooth as possible, so please do not hesitate to ask questions. Again, welcome to our program and our scholarly community. Sincerely,

Richard R. Bennett Professor of Justice and Director of Graduate Studies / Department of Justice, Law and Society


Clockwise from top: a metal junk man with an ubiquitous Jamaica push cart in Kingston. A mobile division of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service during Carnival in Port of Spain. The open air market place in Kingston, Jamaica.


"Detectives have to search an increasing array of sources in order to identify and track down suspects and witnesses and piece together the details of a homicide event." - Fiona Brookman Here I give a snapshot of the similar research in the US and early key findings.

The Research


For the past three years I have been undertaking research on homicide and major crime investigation. I am interested broadly in whether and how the ‘art’ (intuitive), ‘craft’ (competence and practical skills), and ‘science’ (use of scientific technology) of detective work is changing and what the implications of such changes might be. I am interested in how advancements in forensic science technology (from DNA to mobile phone analysis) have changed the way in which homicide is investigated in different jurisdictions.


My research has involved conducting interviews with homicide detectives across police forces in the UK and shadowing detectives both during training and throughout homicide investigations. In addition, I have interviewed forensic scientists and visited forensic science laboratories and in-house police forensic facilities. The opportunity to replicate some of my UK-based research in the United States became a possibility when I was invited to take up the position of a visiting Professor at American University.

During the course of five weeks in the autumn of 2012 I interviewed 25 detectives of various ranks from across four different homicide units in quite distinct jurisdictions in the vicinity of Washington DC. For reasons of confidentiality, the names of the police departments and detectives are not provided. Most of my time, however, was spent intensively at one homicide unit where I shadowed detectives as they went about their daily work of responding to lethal violence and trying to piece together the final moments of the victims’ lives and identifying their killers. The jurisdiction experienced an unprecedented dip in the number of homicides during my stay, but that dramatically changed when there were two homicides in the same day (one in the morning, the second in the evening). Both were fatal shooting events and both victims were young black males. One had been shot almost a year earlier (and had clung onto life in hospital until his demise), and the other died within minutes of being shot to the leg (severing his femoral artery). It is not possible to capture the complexity and pace of the investigations here; suffice it to say that the second case was a stranger homicide that the detectives responded to at around 8pm in the evening. Yet, due primarily to the interrogation of mobile phones and social networking sites and the canvassing of local residents (few were actually forthcoming) they had identified the likely shooter by the following day.

Early Insights The "CSI Effect' The rapid development of ever sophisticated forms of forensic science technology means that detectives have to search an increasing array of sources in order to identify and track down suspects and witnesses and piece together the details of a homicide event. Mobile telephone data, CCTV, Facebook, Twitter, Cinegram and Instagram may all need to be exploited, as well as the more traditional investigative techniques of canvassing witnesses (known as house-to-house enquiries in the UK) and interrogating suspects. Amongst the most prominent advances in forensic science in recent years is DNA. The reality of how detectives make use of DNA in the course of their investigations is rather different from how it is portrayed in popular detective dramas such as CSI. Yet, programmes such as CSI are impacting upon our popular conceptions and expectations of these technologies. Rarely does DNA evidence help homicide detectives to identify or capture a suspect – not least because of the time delays in processing DNA evidence (often 6 weeks to 6 months depending upon the nature of the case). It also is often not helpful in the prosecution of the defendant because there can be legitimate reasons for suspect DNA to be at a crime scene (e.g. in the case of a domestic homicide). In contrast, it is clear that the courts and juries seek evidence based in science and many of my interviewees talked about ‘the CSI effect’ – juries wanting what they perceive as concrete evidence and certainties. When the police do not have it, Defence attorneys generally ask the question; ‘but where is my suspect’s DNA’? Popular conceptions of what a proper investigation ought to look like are, to a significant extent then, drawn from popular culture. This raises an interesting question: should (and could) the police or other agencies work to provide the public with more realistic expectations regarding the role of new scientific technologies?

The USA and the UK Despite the fact that the US and UK share many similarities and that our adversarial criminal justice systems are built upon the same basic foundations, in reality, the way that the policing of major crime has evolved appears to be very different. For example, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the value of obtaining confessional evidence in the US homicide Unit. This is less so in the UK. And whilst ostensibly the rules surrounding the interview or interrogation of suspects are not largely distinct in the two countries, the particular detail of how interviews are conducted is very different. Finally, perhaps the greatest cultural difference between our two countries in terms of the nature of homicide r revolves around firearms. On average less than 10% of all homicides in the UK involve a firearm compared to almost 70% in the United States. L S &

Fiona Brookman is a Criminologist based in the UK at the University of Glamorgan in South Wales. While serving at American University as a visiting professor she undertook ethnographic research with homicide detectives at a nearby Police Department.

"The reality of how detectives make use of DNA in the course of their investigations is rather different from how it is portrayed in popular detective dramas."

- Fiona Brookman


Jefferson had made several major edits, scribbling out words and phrases so thoroughly that Dreisbach had to call in the FBI's “questioned documents” unit to decipher them.


W By April Thompson

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ’make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

When Thomas Jefferson penned those words in response to a congratulatory letter from a small Baptist association in Danbury, Connecticut on New Year's Day in 1802, the recently elected President likely had a few motives in mind. Paramount among them, according to SPA Professor Daniel Dreisbach, were strengthening political allies and clearing up controversy over his refusal to declare federal religious holidays. Jefferson did not, however, set out to invoke a metaphor that would influence scores of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and guide American thought on church-state relations for the centuries to come. But that he did – and Dreisbach has spent more than 20 years tracing its life through legal and political history. His 2002 book Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church


and State is “a biography of that metaphor,” says Dreisbach, who earned a D.Phil. from Oxford University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia, one of Jefferson's pet projects. Though Dreisbach is quick to point out that Jefferson didn't actually coin the “wall of separation” phrase, he explains how the statesman's words have become the organizing theme of the Supreme Court's church-state jurisprudence, using his words to “advance a particular interpretation of the First Amendment.” Jefferson's metaphoric wall has been used to settle Supreme Court cases throughout history, from an 1878 case on Mormon polygamy to a 2002 case on using publicly-funded vouchers to subsidize private school tuition. In the latter case, Justice John Paul Stevens took the wall metaphor to new heights in his dissenting opinion,

writing that, “Whenever we remove a brick from the wall that was designed to separate religion and government, we increase the risk of religious strife and weaken the foundation of our democracy.” Yet Dreisbach suggests that in writing the Danbury letter, Jefferson was simply trying to establish that religion was outside the President's scope of work as defined by the Constitution, and a matter more appropriate to state government and religious societies. “That wall was meant to separate state and federal government, with religion falling on the state's side of it,” he says. Having painstakingly researched the context surrounding Jefferson's historic letter, Dreisbach claims that his intentions were more political than philosophical. “Sometimes we look back at these historic figures as if they were marble busts and forget that they were politicians,” says the professor. The 1800 presidential election was one of history's most hotly contested, according to Dreisbach, with Jefferson and his opponent, John Adams, running mud-slinging campaigns. Jefferson was accused of being a radical infidel, while Adams was portrayed as an enemy of religious freedom. The Danbury letter was a chance for Jefferson to set his record straight on his stance on the federal government's role in religious matters – a topic of intense debate in that era. In the days before televised addresses, not to mention tweets, blogs and the 24-hour news cycle, letters were an important way for leaders to communicate with the greater public, according to Dreisbach. “It was not uncommon for civic and religious groups to write to the President in those days, and not uncommon for the President to respond to them personally,” explains Dreisbach. “Typically, the recipient would run it down to their local newspaper, who would print the letter, which other papers around the country would in turn republish.”

“Sometimes we look back at these

historic figures as if they were marble busts and forget that they were politicians.”

- Daniel Dreisbach, AU professor

Those Jefferson-era newspapers became key sources in Dreisbach's research, though his most primary source was the actual rough draft of the letter itself, housed within the Library of Congress. Dreisbach spent hours poring over the parchment-paper letter in a temperature-controlled room at the library, wearing gloves to protect the document and armed with only a pencil and a notepad, per library rules. The professor discovered that the transcriptions of the letter published since the mid-19th century contained several major errors, and that Jefferson had made several major edits, scribbling out words and phrases so thoroughly that Dreisbach had to call in the FBI's “questioned documents” unit to decipher them. Today, nearly every surviving historic document has been archived digitally, a welcome convenience for Dreisbach, though he worries that the advent of key word searching makes it too easy for researchers to ignore the surrounding context of a given newspaper article or turn of phrase.

Thomas Jefferson's draft letter to the Danbury Baptist association, with edits.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. More than two centuries after Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as the third president of the United States and penned his famous words on the role of religion in national politics, President Barack Obama was sworn in on a weather-worn Bible belonging to preacher and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Issues of faith – including the very notion of separation of church and state – were among the issues debated on the 2012 campaign trail. While the world has changed in ways Jefferson could have never imagined, the political maneuvering around this debate would probably seem all too familiar. L S &

Professor Daniel Dreisbach previously served as a judicial clerk for a judge on the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and as a public interest lawyer specializing in civil and religious liberties. He has been published in, among others, American Journal of Legal History, Constitutional Commentary, and Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Dreisbach's latest research looks at the influence of religion on colonial laws.





“In the four years since this organization was founded, American University Mock Trial has gone from being the new kid on the block to a rising power in the world of intercollegiate mock trial, and we have no intention of slowing down” - Eric Fleddermann

By Sarah McIntosh

“Honorable mention, in their first ever trip to the National Championship Tournament, Team 1003: American University!” Four years ago, these were words American University’s Mock Trial Team could only dream about.

Four years ago, American University was completely unknown in the world of college mock trial, a world dominated by powerhouse schools who have been fielding national champions for upwards of ten or twenty years. But this year, that all changed when American University earned an Honorable Mention at the National Championship Tournament and became one of the top 25 teams in the country. American University Mock Trial earned national recognition this year, and we’re here to stay. “In the four years since this organization was founded, American University Mock Trial has gone from being the new kid on the block to a rising power in the world of intercollegiate mock trial, and we have no intention of slowing down” said Eric Fleddermann, President of American University Mock Trial for the 2012 to 2013 competitive season, and recipient of an All-American Attorney Award at the National Championship Tournament. Founded in 2008, American University’s college mock trial program is just as Eric said, the “new kid on the block.” Back in 2008, American University’s team only had eight members, none of whom had ever competed in a college Mock Trial tournament before. Needless to say, the team’s competitive season that year was nothing to write home about. Since 2008, the American University Mock Trial program has grown tremendously, both in size and prestige. We now field three highly competitive teams, and there are over 40 members in our program. When describing our involvement in the program to others, many of us are met with the question: “What is Mock Trial?” Simply put, Mock Trial is exa-


ctly as it sounds: a “mock” trial. It is a simulated trial competition for undergraduate students. Each year the American Mock Trial Association releases a case packet complete with witness affidavits and evidentiary exhibits. In my four years on the team, our cases have ranged from a murder trial involving a drunk driver to a civil lawsuit over a defective toy that allegedly caused the death of a young child. The case is either civil or criminal (it varies every other year), and each competitive team prepares arguments for both the plaintiff/prosecution and the defense. Student competitors are faced with the daunting task of preparing every aspect of a legal case, just as real attorneys do. In competition, students portray both attorneys and witnesses. Attorney competitors prepare direct and cross examinations, opening and closing arguments, and raise evidentiary objections using the rules of evidence (The Rules of Evidence used in college Mock Trial are very similar to the Federal Rules of Evidence). Competitors playing witness roles can be asked to portray just about any character: scientific experts, disgruntled employees, and eyewitnesses to a crime, just to name a few. But the success of the team depends on more than just individual performance. We work together to develop case theories and craft memorable themes. We even create our own demonstrative posters using evidence from the case packet. Attorney and witness pairs spend countless hours working together on their direct examinations. Our team practices anywhere from one to four times a week, and our members spend countless hours outside of these meetings preparing for competitions. “The skyrocketing success of this team is the product of the incredible dedication of our 40 student members. Our members’ desire to succeed, their commitment to their teammates, and their love of mock trial is what makes this organization capable of achieving such great success” said President Eric Fleddermann.


"I've learned to see and appreciate both sides of an argument. I've learned to think on my feet and to keep my cool." -Samantha Sandfort I have had the privilege of not only watching the success of this team over the past four years, but playing a key role in building the strength of American University’s mock trial program. I am proud to say this year was the team’s most successful competitive season yet. We competed in twelve tournaments throughout the year and brought home over thirty awards, both team and individual. We hosted our own invitational tournament, WONK Trial, for the second year running, and it was a huge success. Run by American University senior Marianne Johnson, WONK Trial has quickly become a top-notch tournament with high quality judging. Twentytwo competitive teams from 17 different schools competed at WONK Trial this year, and competitors travelled from as far away as California to attend. To top off our successful season, we qualified for the National Tournament for the first time in American University’s history. To put this accomplishment in perspective, only 48 teams in the country qualify for the National Tournament. One hundred and ninety-two teams compete in Opening Round National Championship tournaments (ORCS) for those 48 spots. Two American University teams competed at the Opening Round Championship tournament this year, another first in the program’s history. Approximately 500 teams compete in regional tournaments to qualify for the Opening Round Championship. This year, American University sent three competitive teams to regional tournaments and brought home two team awards and five individual awards. Merely qualifying for the National Tournament is a tremendous honor, especially for a team as young as ours. American University’s team went above and beyond this though, earning an Honorable Mention after four hard fought rounds. For us seniors, this was an incredible finish to our final year on the team. We have watched the Mock Trial program grow into a powerhouse on the national stage. For all the underclassmen in the program, this year’s

honorable mention is only the first of many more national victories this team is sure to bring home. Victories aside, the skills we develop as competitors and teammates are ones we will continue to utilize as we begin our professional careers. Public speaking, leadership, and critical thinking are just a few of the many skills we develop from Mock Trial. “I've learned to work in a group as a team, and I've learned how to balance that with being a leader. I've learned to see and appreciate both sides of an argument. I've learned to think on my feet and to keep my cool when thrown a curveball. I've become much more confident in myself and my work,” said Samantha Sandfort, four year senior and captain of American University’s A Team. Samantha’s experience is true for many other students in the program. Whether we go on to attend law school, or pursue a career in a different direction, mock trial has transformed us into the well-spoken advocates we are today. L S

burnt offerings

Life Sentences The judge gave him life, we say, with no sense of the irony

there in the damp basement of the aging prison near the chair

or the arrogance or the enormity of sentences given out every day in court rooms across the nation. God gave him life. His mother gave him life. The judge takes life, condemning people to cells or coffins, which are pretty much the same thing, when you think about it.


death the scent of burnt offerings hangs in the air a devil’s brew of mildew, flesh, and fear the chair is gone (the latest reform) the smell lives on

Sarah McIntosh is a recent graduate of American University and a member of the JLS Mock Trial Team.

From: A Zoo Near You by Robert Johnson (BleakHouse Publishing, 2010: 62, 140)

Robert Johnson is a poet, AU professor, and expert in institutions of punishment at JLS. L&S



take their own lives outright. “The option of just killing yourself is not really an option in that culture,” he says. Doing so is a surefire way to go to hell. As evidence of this, he points to the suicide rates throughout the Middle East, which are remarkably low by comparison to the West. Within that environment, suicidal people see martyrdom as the only way out. To therefore justify their death wish and hide their true motives, these individuals instead take on the role of “hero.” Taking on that role, he argues, puts suicide bombers in the same class as school shooters and other rampage killers. As he puts it, “The desire to acquire fame and glory through killing, and then escape the consequence, is a critical similarity between” these types of killer. Indeed, the book carefully outlines the connections between the two groups. Both use similar language in describing their perceived victimization as a rationalization for their acts. Seung-Hui Cho, responsible for the Virginia Tech School shooting, made a martyr video using language similar to that of terrorists. In like fashion, Anders Behring Breivik, who was responsible for the 2011 Norway attacks, released a manifesto with “almost identical rationalizations as Muslim suicide terrorists.” Even the perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre wrote of a desire to “hijack a hell of a lot of bombs and crash a plane into NYC with us inside;” words they wrote three years before the attacks of 9/11.


Suicide terrorists have a dirty little secret. They’re afraid too... but of life.”


For decades, suicide terrorism was understood to be the act of individuals fully committed to their ideals or faith.

This fanatical dedication to an ideal, it was argued, reached its zenith when the individual no longer feared death, instead martyring himself for his chosen cause. But Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama and the author of the book The Myth of Martyrdom, isn’t buying it. “I was shocked to discover that most government officials… agree with this view,” he said. Lankford, who earned his MS and PhD in Justice, Law and Society at American University, laid out his arguments for why suicide bombers are a misunderstood breed in his recent book talk at AU. The fundamental question he poses is whether terrorists who martyr themselves are committing suicide, or making a sacrifice. The conventional view suggests that suicide terrorists are “far more normal than people would believe” and that – as many terrorist organizations have claimed – their actions are a sacrifice on par with taking a bullet for one’s country. This, Lankford claims, is the wrong way of looking at things. “Everyone looks normal from a distance,” he said. You cannot tell, psychologically, if they are actu-


ally “normal” without digging a little deeper. And what did professor Lankford find by digging deeper? “Suicide terrorists have a dirty little secret. They’re afraid too,” writes Lankford, “but of life.” His book, The Myth of Martyrdom, dives into to the minds of suicide bombers, hijackers, mass shooters, and the like by analyzing their letters, martyr videos, journal entries, and other private documents to draw a decidedly unconventional conclusion: suicide terrorists are suicidal, but in the same clinical sense that drives civilians to take their own lives. Lankford’s research showed that, rather than fanaticism, “anxiety, depression, marital problems, [and] professional failure” are all driving factors for suicide terrorists, just as they are for others who commit suicide. As one would-be bomber put it while being interviewed after a failed attempt, he was involved in the plot “not because I belong to the organization, but because it fulfilled my wish to die.” One subtle difference, however, is that these troubled individuals are afraid of the religious consequences they would face were they to

- Adam Lankford

Adam Lankford, an AU alumni, discusses his book on campus.

Terrorist groups have long maintained that the attackers they recruit are not suicidal, but rather the equivalent of Navy Seals; not wanting to die but willing to do so for their cause. The emotionally unstable could, after all, jeopardize the mission. However, such groups would not be the first to exploit troubled individuals. A closer look at the kamikaze program in Japan during World War II revealed that an extremely high number of boys in the program committed suicide before ever seeing the inside of a plane. Coercion also played a tremendous role in forcing the suicide attackers to act as they did. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that similar recruitment and coercion tactics might be employed by terrorist organizations as well. Lankford’s work remains controversial in the field of counterterrorism. What it does, however, is offer up a plausible theoretical alternative to the conventional view of suicide terrorists: that they are behaviorally and psychologically different from those who would take bullets or jump on grenades for God and country. “One half of all suicide bombers end up only killing themselves,” he said. Ultimately, he suggests that understanding their actions starts with this notion: “maybe they’re not failing at all.” L S &


JUSTICE, LAW & SOCIETY 2011-2012 AWARDS, HONORS, AND SCHOLARSHIPS Faculty and Staff Awards 2011-2012 Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment Bill Davies Outstanding Teaching in a Part-Time Appointment Frank Rangoussis Outstanding Research Joseph Young Outstanding Service Robert Johnson Outstanding Customer Service Anna Castro Justin Saffar

Undergraduate Awards 2011-2012 Outstanding Scholarship at the Undergraduate Level Claire M. Callahan Outstanding Service to the Department Meryl E. Nolan Outstanding Achievement at the Undergraduate Level Emily J. Heltzel Contribution to Building Community Justice Advisory Group

Graduate Awards 2011-2012

Outstanding Scholarship at the Graduate Level (Ph.D.) Kevin H. Wozniak

Alumni Awards 2011-2012 Notable Alumni Award-Undergraduate Level Chris Miller Amanda Merkwae 2012 Notable Alumni Award-Graduate Level Michael Cromartie

School of Public Affairs Honors, Awards, and Scholarships 2011-2012 SPA Outstanding Scholarship & Collaboration with Students Rita Simon SPA Outstanding Teaching in a Term Faculty Appointment Jessica Waters SPA Outstanding Scholarship at the Graduate Level Kevin Wozniak Outstanding Honors Claire Callahan Meryl Nolan Mock Trial Senior Advocate Award Jessica Lagomarsino

Outstanding Service to the JLS Community Sean P. Mulligan

Hassine Memorial Scholarship Claire Callahan

Outstanding Service to the University Community Amanda C. Kloer

FedEx Scholarship Stefanie Graefe

Outstanding Scholarship at the Graduate Level (M.S.) Phoenix A. Ricks

Harry C. Biser Scholarship Fund Connie Mui

Comprehensive Examination with Distinction Phoenix A. Ricks

Paul A., Paul H., and Isabella A. Clarke Scholarship Gianna Bove Joanne Conelley


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FACULTY Tenure-Line Faculty

Term Faculty

Adjunct Faculty

Lynn Addington Richard Bennett Bill Davies Daniel Dreisbach David Fagelson Brian Forst Jon Gould Robert Johnson Douglas Klusmeyer Edward Maguire Joanne Savage Stephen Tankel Joseph Young

Instructional Faculty Tricia Bacon Carl Barnes Chana Barron Brad Bartholomew Kathleen Courtney Jennifer Gumbrewicz Kathryn Kozey Margaret Marr Jessica Waters

Max Abrahms David Anglin Michael Bouchard Robert DiBella Laura Dykstra John Firman Katie Hail-Jares Gregory Hunt Lester Kaplan Bruce Kimble Aaron Lucas Richard Marianos Patrica Mitchell Matthew Pascocello D. Hamilton Peterson Frank Rangoussis Rainey Ransom Debra Rosenbluth Jason Schaengold Tiffany Simmons Stacy Swinton Karen Telis Ronald Weiner Jeffrey Wennar Keith Williams

Research Faculty Caroline Cooper Joseph Trotter

Liberty and Security  

Publication of American University's Department of Justice, Law and Criminology. Fall 2013.

Liberty and Security  

Publication of American University's Department of Justice, Law and Criminology. Fall 2013.