In 1863 a cooper in Chillicothe, Ohio, named Schyler Courier angrily responded to a group of boys throwing snowballs at him by firing his shotgun, killing one of the boys. In 1866 in Petersburg, New York, Hiram Coon warned his employer's wife, Mary Laker, to quit taunting him for his criminal past; when she would not stop, he split her head open with an ax.
At first glance, Sudhir Venkatesh’s Gang Leader for a Day looks something like a spin-off television show. Venkatesh was featured in Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt’s bestselling Freakonomics as the sociologist who befriended gang leaders and got revealing economic information from them.
Pastor Maria Edmonds is doing gang ministry in the mountains of North Carolina. As she puts it, "They’re not accepted anywhere else. So I figure Jesus would have me spend time with them.”Millions of dollars are spent each year at the federal level to combat gang activity and reduce gang-related violence in our big cities. And, as Edmonds has discovered, gangs are also a feature of life in many small towns.
A dead girl lies in a grassy field. Her blood-soaked body has started to decompose. Who is she? How did she get there? Was the killing a crime of passion or opportunity? And who committed the heinous act?
Criminal violence, like the murder of a retired Presbyterian missionary and her daughter during a carjacking in Kenya, is claiming many more lives than warfare, lamented Samuel Kobia, the head of the World Council of Churches.