Keeping watch on the world of crime and punishment


December 25, 2005|By TROY MCCULLOUGH

Day and night, the crime blogs are on patrol.

Some of these bloggers are victims' advocates. Some are criminal-justice insiders with stories to tell. Some are merely fascinated with seedy tales from the dark side of society. But they all seem to share a similar passion for exposing the guilty, protecting the innocent and analyzing all the legal issues in between.

This growing set in the blogosphere is like a 21st-century neighborhood watch with a global scope. Cross that legal line, and you're likely to end up on one of these blogs.

It's important to note that most of these bloggers rely on traditional media outlets - newspapers and TV stations - for most of their crime reporting. But what crime bloggers are excelling at is amplifying stories and issues that are often an afterthought in the morning paper or on the evening news.

The obvious danger here is that such blog reporting could lead to sensationalism or a false perception of how much danger is out there on the streets. But the best crime bloggers avoid these traps. The message they project is a comforting one: Somebody is paying attention.

One of the most prolific crime bloggers right now is local. has been dishing up a daily crime report for nearly a year. Scouring local news outlets, this site offers an impressive police-blotter-style tally of crime in the city and around the region. Think you've already heard it all? You might be shocked by what you've missed.

Similar in topic but broader in scope, offers a daily crime roundup from around the country. "Crime happens all around us, in every corner of the world," Crime Scene Blog states. "This site reports on it, tries to understand it and offers a place to discuss how to eliminate as much of it as possible." is a crime site with a little more attitude. Its author has little tolerance for the ruthless mindset behind many of the most brutal crimes and rarely bothers to hold back his anger. and Voice are two sites attempting to aid and empower crime victims, specifically those who have been abducted or are missing. Cases are often tracked from beginning to end - whether happy or sad., a site run by a Virginia attorney, is an intelligent and entertaining blog that highlights crime trends and issues as they work their way through the legal system. There's an emphasis here on interesting, notable and bizarre issues that arise in American criminal justice.

More specific than CrimLaw, White Collar Crime Prof Blog ( and Cyber Crime Law Blog (cybercrimelaw. org/index.cfm) tackle issues of corporate and political crimes and emerging online crimes.

And is a blog by a Metropolitan Police detective in London who offers readers "a view of life from the thin layer between you and the underclass."

These bloggers are covering all different types of crimes from all different types of angles.

Chilling, maybe. But compelling for sure.

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