Conversing & Pen Palling with Prisoners

By Posted on 7 min read 953 views

I started pen-palling with prisoners in 2019. Why? I honestly do not have a clear answer. I wanted to see how these people live their lives behind bars, I wanted to know about their emotions, their feelings and everyday life. Whether they deserved to be there, and whether they have regretted their past actions.

However, there is much more than that going on.
First, I read up on experiences of other people that had previously tried pen-palling with prisoners and most women that had that experience talked about a lot of red flags to look out for. For example, how some prisoners might ask you for money, or how they might start love-bombing you and tell you that you are their dream woman, that once they get out they will marry you and start a family with you, and unfortunately, a lot of women still fall in that trap.

Specifically one of them reported that she was feeling very unloved, going unnoticed by the men around her, and when her pen pal promised her the world, she believed him. She would correspond with him daily, she would pay for his calls and all his necessities inside jail, as well as send extra money for things she did not know what it was being used for. When her pen pal got released, she picked him up and gave him a home to stay at. A week later, he left her, after mocking her for believing him.

Having said that, of course not every prisoner is like this, and not all people on the outside are vulnerable to such events. Being so interested in crime but also the societal values around the world, I decided to go ahead with it, and chose three pen pals.

The first one, never replied after the second letter. With my second pen pal, we would occasionally write, but there was not much to say after a certain point, which is a reality that a lot of us experience when trying to make friends in our everyday lives too.

My second pen pal had some very controversial but understandable views about his actions and his life. He would tell me that even though he has tried to stay out of trouble, it was very hard for him to do so every time he was released, and he didn’t think that this time would be any different. He thought that being a “criminal” was all he knew, and that he had a loyalty to his gang that he had to prove time after time. He specifically said once “I hope I will be out for a while, but I don’t see it happening. I will probably be back a few months later after my release.” Being from a low socioeconomic background, as well as an immigrant, I understand the need to fit in when you are a child, especially when growing in dangerous neighbourhoods, seeking your place in gangs.

My third pen pal was the most interesting by far. His name is Javi, and before I even started this magazine, I asked him if he would write for me, and he gladly agreed. So know that before I wrote anything about him, I obtained his consent to do so.

When we first talked, Javi came across as highly educated and intelligent, which he is. He has been studying while in prison, and already completed a degree. What struct me the most about Javi, was his case.

According to court records and journalists, as well as Javi himself, he used to be in a gang in California since he was a child. His story in a few words, is that a homicide was committed, and even though the weapon was his, Javi was not the one to pull the trigger. Even though the person that committed the homicide confessed to doing it, Javi was sentenced to life as well, as the gun was his and it was found in his car. For a young adult on his very early 20s, you can imagine how this changed his life. He went from having everything, to having nothing. And even though he realises that the people he surrounded himself with was a conscious choice, I still believe that people like that are worthy of second chances.

Not every one of us comes from the same background, whether that is racial, social or economic. Sometimes life works in chaotic ways and our course can change in the matter of seconds. I am not specifically talking about Javi’s case, but for many others out there, that are spending a lot more time in prison than I deem necessary. After all, the main reason for prisons is reformation. But how can you reform an individual when you provide them with no resources or chances towards positive change? This is a long conversation, maybe for another article.

For now, all I have to offer you is Javi’s letter, word for word. I am not putting this out there to change your mind for how prisoners should be treated, but maybe, someone will see it and will choose to research prison systems a bit more. The question of second chances still remains, and that is not only up to each individual to answer for themselves, but also the circumstances of one’s crimes. Just remember that a crime does not start the moment someone commits it. It starts a long time before.

Javi’s Letter:

A lot of you guys might be thinking how long have I been down and when do I get out? Right? The first answer is 14 years. The second one is a bit tricky. I was handed a life sentence as an accomplice to murder. Given light years. No joke, here in California. It was my gun, my car and even though I didn’t pull the trigger nor there was any evidence that I told the other person to do it, under the old law it was sufficient to find me guilty. Now, the laws are changing, in the next couple of years, I have no doubt I will be given a date, and second chance to go home. The laws that pertain to me in which are relevant are the SB 260, SB261 and SB1437, Prop 57 with an anticipation to additional ones to come.

I am a writer at heart, I’ve always had a passion for writing since I can remember and has been the key for deciding into changing my life around from inside these walls. I am also on the path of higher education. I am currently coming up with great ideas for everything that I’m passionate for. I am enrolled in college and currently joined Microsoft classes for editing.

On June 17th, 2019. I joined to be a member on an online pen pal service. My experience so far has been that of meeting pen pals from my home state of California, across the country and overseas. The service is not only a great way to communicate with others, but also to find people that might share the same views, outlooks and beliefs as you. If you’re lucky, you might even find someone special that you can value and hold dear.

I started using this service in order to look for friendships and be able to have conversations with people for personal growth and to also try to improve my social skills outside the prison walls. The way it works for us is through a prison tablet which is connected to the Wi-Fi, and we basically message back and forth using paid stamps. Basically texting through a Wi-Fi.

I have talked with people from all over the world, England, Germany, Australia. When I asked one of them why they decided to reach out to a prisoner, they said that they were not always compassionate towards people in jail, and felt it was their fault, but they were able to change their mindset about prisoners deserving a second chance.

Their understanding of my situation compelled me with emotion and also gave me more strength to push forward and not beat myself up for something I ultimately didn’t do. Having said that, I have been guilty of putting myself in that position. For many years I have felt that I had a choice, and it turns out that yes, I did have a choice, but looking back and seeing how young I was, I believe everyone deserves a second chance in one form or another, including me.

I will conclude by saying that there’s actually great people in prison doing time and reflecting day in day out how they failed and how they can become better people. Obviously not all, but some like myself are very eager to change their life around and make positive changes for their future, even though it is a work in progress for many of us.

Joining a pen pal service has not only been life changing, but it has become one of the best decisions I could have made. It has gave me a greater purpose beside myself, and I feel complete.

Sometimes God challenges us, and if we ever questioned him, he would say: “You prayed, you asked, and I gave you. It was there the whole time; you just never cared to clearly look and see”.


Serial Killers from Greece.

By Posted on 14 min read 1564 views

Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Rader, David Berkowitz, Richard Ramirez, Ed Kemper. What do all those people have in common, except for the fact that they are all serial killers?

Their crimes all took place in America. And yet, their names are known by the majority of true crime buffs across the world. Why?

Truth is, the U.S does not have a disproportionate number of serial killers. It is just much easier to find them in the U.S than it is in other countries.

Secondly, law enforcement has to put two and two together after discovering the murders, in order to link them not only to each other, but also to the killer. I will not comment on the efficiency of the U.S law enforcement, however, no one can deny how important criminal profiling is, neither deny how ground-breaking the Behavioral Science Unit was.

Thirdly, he U.S has much more open records than other countries do, therefore making it easier for people to find out about as well as access information about serial killer cases.

The media coverage of a crime is also to be taken into consideration.

All this could explain the reason why a lot of people are not informed as much about murder and serial killer cases around the rest of the world. Having grown up in Greece, even though true crime was not very prevalent as have previously mentioned in another article, I was lucky enough to be able to watch a show based on real homicides that have taken place all around Greece. I used to watch them religiously, and it might sound weird, but when I need a nostalgic, comfort watch, that is still what I will choose to put on.

Going back for holidays in Greece, I managed to get my hands on a couple of true crime books focusing on Greek homicides, and even though you can find some of that information online, it does not come close to reading it from the perspective of the journalists & detectives that have covered those homicides.

So everyone reading, buckle up and prepare to read about four serial killers that shook Greek society to its core.

Antonis Daglis – The Ripper of Athens

His story begins in 1974, in the city of Peiraeus in Athens, where he grew up and lived most of his life. While growing up, his family was experiencing a lot of financial issues, as well as domestic violence. His father used to violently beat his mother, as well as his brother. In 1986, Daglis becomes an orphan when his father passes away, leaving a lot of financial debts behind. He stops going to school and starts working in order to support his family.

When he turns 16 years old, he gets arrested, trialled and condemned for the seduction of an underage girl. Daglis spends 6 months in a juvenile detention centre, and even though the amount of time Daglis spent in the system might not seem long for many, it is enough to change the personality of a young person.

His mother was working in underground and notorious bars, where he one night witnesses her coming into sexual contact with a stranger for money. This event created in him an immense amount of hatred towards not only his mother, but the entirety of the female population, which took a hold on him and his actions for the remainder of his life.

In October 1992, in the mere age of 18, Daglis steals a car, and he drives towards the suburb of Kolonaki, specifically to a “corner” where sex workers were usually picking up customers during that time. He chooses a girl who was around 35 years old, they talk about her services and prices and drive towards the area of Karea, where, as he confessed later, strangles her. Just after committing the murder, Daglis drives back to his house, grabs a knife, a hacksaw and plastic bags and cuts the dead body in more than 30 pieces. He later on gets rid of the bags in different areas of Athens and throws the victims head in the river of Kifissos. Some parts of the girl were found by the police a few days later, but he was not arrested for years.

Daglis serves in the army for the mandatory period and does not deviate until the month of September 1995. During the autumn of 1995, there was a lot of fear in the sex workers “corners”, as 8 women had been attacked by an unknown young man driving a white van, who would pose as a customer but would later try to strangle and rob them. Specifically, during that time, as a sex worker reported in an interview quite a while later, after having sex with the man a couple of times, as he kept going back and everything seemed normal, he tried to take the money he had already given her, and when she refused, he pulled a knife threatening to kill her. The sex worker gave him all her money and ran out.

A 30-year-old British woman named Anne, who was working as a sex worker during that time, reported that the same man drove her to a quiet place, put a rope around her neck and made her perform oral sex on him while saying “All whores must die”. She told him that she was doing this kind of work out of need, in order to save up money so go back to her home country, and that’s when the man told her “Fine, you can go. But be careful.”

Multiple other attacks towards sex workers followed during that autumn, but none of them were murdered, until the 29th of October, when Eleni Panagiotopoulou’s body, was found chopped in pieces in the area of Tragana. The girl’s body parts were thrown around the area, but this time, the killer had removed the victim’s guts and had cut the nipples from her breasts. The cause of death was determined as strangulation once again, and the forensic pathologist working the case mentioned “extreme cannibalism” taking place.

On the 25th of December of the same year, in a one-way alley, the body of Athina Lazarou, also a sex worker, was found naked except for her bottom underwear that were still in place, with all her clothes being thrown around the place, as well as a bag with all her personal belongings. Cause of death, you guessed it, strangulation.

One has to keep in mind that being a sex worker in Greece was illegal back then, and most of the girls were extremely scared of facing hefty fines, deportation if they were refugees, or even jail, hence why they did not report any of the attacks to the police. These 2 last murders however, had sex workers around Athens panic in such degree that 2 of them decided to report the attacks that they survived, as well as gave a description of the man and the van he was driving.

The girls were shown photographs of people that had a record, and they managed to identify the man. It was Antonis Daglis, now a 22-year-old man, with blue eyes and blond hair.

The police immediately started following the suspect’s every move in undercover cars. On January 21st, 1996, he was seen talking with sex workers, and even though police officers would prefer to catch him in the act in order to have a foolproof case, they were worried they might lose his tracks. Hence why they arrested him 3 days later, on the 24th of January, while Daglis was in his van. It was in the same van where they also found an Orthodox cross necklace which belonged to Eleni Panagiotopoulou, leaving no room for doubts that they had finally captured the man who everyone referred to as “The Athens Ripper”.

Daglis confessed to every attack and murder he committed, putting a lot of the blame on his upbringing, his violent father and absent mother who was working as a sex worker. He mentioned that every time he was killing a sex worker, he felt like he was killing his own mother. Daglis also mentioned that he killed a couple of the sex workers due to the reason that they made comments about the small size of his penis.

His trial took place from the 15th until the 23rd of January in 1997, and he was facing charges for 3 homicides, 8 attempted homicides, 10 robberies, 2 attempted robberies, rape, illegal firearm possession, as well as offences towards the dead (I assume that refers to the mutilations).

During the day of his trial, Daglis self-harmed and needed 122 stitches on his left leg. His lawyers tried to play the card of the “psychopath”, but psychiatrists that examined him managed to throw that theory out.

Daglis tried to provide an apology in order to get a lighter sentence, but the court was not convinced, and the sentence he was handed was 13 times life imprisonment, and 25 years imprisonment on merger, the longest sentence recorded in Greece for the last few decades.

Daglis told the court that he was not “trialled fairly”. In the early morning of August 2nd, 1997, he was found hung in the cell numbered 33 of the psychiatric ward of the Koridallos prison.

Theofilos Sechidis – The butcher of Thasos / The Greek Hannibal

Sechidis’ case is one of the most talked about homicide cases in Greece, as well as one of the most shocking ones. Sechidis was a law student, and fun fact, would only drink milk. A calm and sober face, a lonely boy who was hiding the “smile of death”.

Even though I know a lot about his case, I was never able to find a lot about his childhood, something that may have shed some light in the motivations behind his actions. The only thing mentioned whenever the case is covered, is that in 1992, he underwent a computed tomography scan, and it was revealed that he had some brain anomalies.

His case starts in May 1996, and the police only started investigating it after a report relating to the missing victims. The person that reported all the victims missing, was the wife of his uncle Vasilis, who lived in Belgium and was visiting Greece. After his uncle’s disappearance, Sechidis pretended to be looking for him, as well as the rest members of his family, and had even gone to the police asking for help.

This action was the perfect alibi in Sechidis’ mind, but in his aunt’s eyes, it was another strange behaviour among others that defined him. His out of the ordinary behaviours in the past had previously made his family discuss about finding someone to provide Theofilos with some much-needed medical help.

But let’s talk about when and how the murders took place.

The first murder took place on the 19th of May. Sechidis and his uncle had gone for a walk to the ancient acropolis of Thasos to talk, when according to Sechidis, they started arguing and his uncle tried to attack him with a knife. This is the reason (according to him) as to why he pushed him from a cliff of 10 metres. When Sechidis went close, his uncle was in great suffering, and decided to cut his throat and hide him in the bushes.

Until the next day, the other 4 murders were committed.

Sechidis first purchased a shot gun, returned home and waited for his father who arrived around 19:30. His father’s death came from a single bullet, as well as an incredibly deep knife slash on his neck. Sechidis reported that his father attacked him with a knife, and in self-defence shot him from a metre away. He took his body, dragged it across the floor and left it in the toilet. He also mentioned that his father’s head had “erupted” from the eyes up, making his skull bones detach.

After 15 minutes, his mother and sister returned home as well. Again, according to his words, they asked him where his father was, and his mother took a knife out. The two women, as well as his grandmother, suffered the same fate as his father. The crime was not revealed until over two months later.

Sechidis did not simply kill his family. He chopped them up in pieces, took the brains out of his father’s, sister’s and grandmother’s lifeless bodies, put them on a plate and in the freezer, in order to “study” them and later on eat them, in order to punish them, as well as satisfy his curiosity.

It is also said that Sechidis was listening to Tchaikovsky while committing the murders.

The next day, he put the dead bodies’ pieces in bags, and took them to Kavala with a boat, making a few round trips.

In his words, “I did whatever I did in self-defence and this is the reason why I do not regret it, and whatever I have said so far to you, is the truth”. He truly believed that his whole family was planning to kill him.

Sechidis was convicted with a 5 life sentences.

After being under the watchful guard of psychiatrists, it was concluded that he was suffering from schizotypal personality disorder, but without the need of treatment, therefore bearing full responsibility and awareness of his actions. Other psychiatrists believe that he suffered from schizophrenia, but the opinions differ.

On the 12th of February 2019, in the age of 46, Sechidis was found dead in the Koridallos psychiatric facility’s bath. It is believed that he had a heart attack, as he was struggling with heart issues the past few years.

Ekaterini Dimitrea

Ekaterini Dimitrea was 42 years old and lived in the village of Neohori in Greece. Her husband had divorced her, she was suffering from hemiplegia, a condition caused by a brain damage or a spinal cord injury and can possibly lead to paralysis to one side of the body. She was raising her 10-year-old daughter by herself, and even though she was experiencing financial issues, her life was pretty calm. Until the month of May 1962.

On the 27th of May, Dimitrea committed her first crime, when she poisoned her mother’s pasta by adding parathion (a pesticide). Her 80-year-old mother had a spasm crisis, strong abdominal pains and passed away on the floor a few moments later after consuming the food. As her mother had previous heart issues, the death was written off as a heart attack and no suspicions were raised from anyone.

On the 19th of July, she poisoned her cousin by adding parathion in her coffee. The victim died in the same horrific way as Dimitrea’s mother, but this time, the death was attributed to a skull fracture she suffered when she fell on the floor.

The third victim of Dimitrea was her 45-year-old brother, who drank a poisoned coffee, but the amount of parathion this time was not enough to kill him. He was taken to the hospital, and the doctors diagnosed him with a biliary colic.
The killer realised that the amount of poison was not enough, so she made sure to add some extra the second time, resulting in her brother’s death, which was again written off as a heart attack.

The whole village started talking behind her back, but no one thought she was a killer. Everyone simply thought that the family was cursed.

On the 6th of September, she offered a Turkish delight snack to her 5-year-old nephew, and before he could even eat the whole thing, the child foamed at the mouth and died en route to the hospital. Since the child had no previous health issues, suspicions were finally raised, and doctors discovered the actual cause of death.

On the 10th of September, Dimitrea confessed to all her crimes, and she also mentioned that she had tried to murder 2 other members of her family, but thankfully they had not accepted the food and drinks she had offered them.

After her arrest. she mentioned that she was planning on poisoning the whole village, in order to make everyone believe she was mentally ill. After neurological and psychological exams, doctors reported that she had full consciousness of her actions.

On the 10th of April 1964, Dimitrea was executed. She remained in history as the first female serial killer in Greece.

Dimitris Vakrinos

Vakrinos was a quite small man, working as a taxi driver, but would also steal cars and bikes in order to sell them for profit.

Unfortunately, even though Vakrinos’ crimes are not recorded with a chronological accuracy, it seems like the first murder that was recorded by the police took place on the 21st of December in 1995, when he killed two brothers, Kostas and Antonis Spiropoulos, due to the reason that when he sold them a car, they paid him less than what they had agreed upon.

Vakrinos, when seeing the money, decided to take the car back with a spare key he had kept. The brothers heard him starting the car, ran out and and drove after him, until Vakrinos’ car ran out of gas and had to stop at a gas station. The brothers tried to confront him and take the car back from him, but what they did not know is that Vakrinos was carrying guns with him.

He emptied all bullets from the first gun on the brothers, went in the car, grabbed a second gun, continued shooting until both brothers were dead, and then simply drove away.

In Greece, it was not unusual for parents to propose a wedding between their children and another family’s children. Not exactly an arranged marriage or a forced one (usually), but a first contact that could end up in something more. Something more of a matchmaking.

Vakrinos stated that a man, Serafim Agiannidis had messed up a possible matchmaking for him, and seeing as he was in love with the girl, he needed to kill him.

He went all the way to Serafim’s house, wearing a hood and pressed his finger on the doorbell, but Agiannidis was not home. When his mother saw the hooded man through the peephole, she called the police, but Vakrinos stayed outside waiting for his next victim.

Unfortunately, when Agiannidis arrived, Vakrinos shot him. The father of the victim and a police officer were injured from the bullets as well, making the rest of the police start looking for him actively.

The police could not track him down, until a woman reported a vehicular theft, where the perpetrator drove away in a taxi. This information, along with the description of the suspect, as well as the name from his first murder that was in the police’s registry (due to the spare key having a name tag on it), helped arrest him.

You might be wondering why they did not look into his name earlier if the name was present on the key, and the answer is, I truly don’t know. I assume that the police might have thought that the car had been sold to multiple owners and it was not worth looking into it.

After his arrest. Vakrinos confessed to the murders that were mentioned above, but to a few others too. Apparently, according to his confession, his first ever victim was one of his roommates, Panagiotis Daglias. He killed Daglias because he had “stolen a hunting gun from him”. The next victim was a woman, Anastasia Simitzi. Vakrinos ended her life because she called him “short”. Another victim was a co-worker of his, a taxi driver named Theodoros Andreadis, who did not let him take a passenger in his cab.

According to his words, Vakrinos felt wronged from everyone, and killing made him feel “bigger”.

On the 25th of May the following year, he was found hung in his cell.

If you made it this far, you see how different the motivations behind each killing are. The fact that such crimes have been committed in Greece but almost no one knows about them, is both sad and fascinating as to the reason why. Even though the serial killers and their cases discussed in this article don’t have a lot in common with most well-known ones, I still find them fascinating.


Panopticism in the age of surveillance & the dark web as a place of freedom.

By Posted on 6 min read 1150 views

In 2021, especially during lockdowns, most of our lives are being conducted online. Online socialisation, online entertainment, online education, online shopping, online payments. It is not something new for any of us by now.

While conducting research for an assignment on Multi-Agency investigations, I was shocked to find the amount of information stored and accessed by government & policing agencies for each and every individual who happens to have a digital footprint.
While reading the Privacy Policies of these agencies, the theory of Panopticism came to mind instantly, and how the theory is closely tied with surveillance today.

For those reading about it for the first time, it might sound weird when I say that the Panopticon is a building. Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, social reformer & founder of modern utilitarianism, first came up with the idea in the 18th century. The Panopticon (“all-seeing”) can be described as a type of institutional building (for example a prison), and as a system of control.

This disciplinary concept is brought to life in the form of a central observation tower, which is placed within a circle of prison cells. From inside this central tower, the “guard” can see every single cell and “inmate”, but the inmates cannot possibly see inside the tower. This makes the prisoners never know IF they are being watched, but always feeling like they are.

By individualising the occupants and putting them in a state of constant visibility, the institution maximises its efficiency. Moreover, it guarantees the function of power, even when there is no one actually there to assert it, which means that the Panopticon can function automatically.

In a few words, inside the Panopticon, the occupant of the cell is always the object of information, but never a subject of communication. The underpinning principle, therefore, is that power should be visible and unverifiable.

Paul-Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, took the concept even further. In his book “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison” (1975), Foucault introduces his readers to the concept of the Panopticism. The Panopticon acted as a metaphor which allowed Foucault to explore the relationships between the systems of social control & people in disciplinary situations, as well as the power-knowledge concept. In Foucault’s eyes, power and knowledge come from observing others.

The result of this observation, or more appropriately worded, surveillance, is the acceptance of regulations and docility. A normalisation of sorts if you will, which stems from the threat of discipline. As mentioned above, “suitable” behaviour, is not achieved through total surveillance, but by panoptic discipline and by inducing a population to conform by the internalisation of this reality. The actions of an observer are based on this monitoring, as well as the behaviours they see exhibited.

The more one observes, the more powerful one becomes.

The real danger for Foucault, was not that individuals are repressed by the social order, but that they are rather “carefully fabricated in it”, and that there is a penetration of power into the behaviour of said individuals.

In the society and age of digital surveillance, the principle is still central inspection. No building is needed, as inspection can be conducted by CCTV and other monitoring devices. Monitoring electronic communications from a central location, that is in itself panoptic.

Having said that however, the relevance of the Panopticon as a metaphor, is beginning to wither when we think about whether contemporary types of visuality are actually analogous to the Panopticon concept.

I’ll raise you a question. Does the fact that we do not know for sure we are being watched, mean that we are being conditioned & normalised in the way that the Panopticon intended to “correct” behaviour?

The scale of NSA & GCHQ operations was not known until the Snowden leaks, which means that the system has become more Panoptic, post-Snowden, simply because we are aware of it.

We might not be feeling exposed when browsing in our personal space, we do not feel that our body of data is under surveillance, but this is only because most of us do not know where that body begins or ends. Without physical ownership, and without an actual sense of exposure, we do not normalise our actions. If anything, operating under the supposed anonymity the Internet provides, means that we do the opposite.

Almost everything around us is able to create a vast amount of data about our personal lives. From smart TV’s and Wi-Fi fridges, to sex toys that are able to connect to our phones and online bank accounts, we provide information. Have a think about the data. It is not only passed back and forth between the objects involved, but it is also finding its way toward government and corporate agencies.

Could this be the reason that more and more people are starting to use the dark web?

It might be embarrassing to say, but when I started my Bachelors (a while ago), I was completely clueless as to that part of the web really was. Luckily enough, one of my main professors was James Martin, an outstanding criminologist, who focuses on crypto markets, the dark web, as well as cyber and organised crime.

During my studies I saw how in recent years, the dark web had become one of the most discussed topics in the circles of cyber security. A lot of research studies, academic sources and media reports choose to focus on the anonymity that enables the facilitation of criminal activities, such as drug markets like Silk Road.

The fact about the dark web that almost no one talks about in such cases though, is that a lot of its users do not perceive it as intrinsically criminogenic, despite their acknowledgement of various kinds of criminal activity that take place in it. There is an emphasis on the achievement of constructive socio-political values through the use of the dark web. This achievement is enabled by various characteristics which are deeply rooted in the dark web’s technological structure, such as privacy, anonymity, and the use of cryptocurrencies.

Yes, these characteristics provide a wide range of opportunities for evil, but also for good causes.

How does the Dark Web work? Simply put, the Dark Web is the only network on the Internet, wherein all network traffic is hidden. This means that with the right tools (which are easily accessible), anyone can carry out any activity without leaving a trace that can be tracked by commonplace technical tools. If anyone gains access to a node, they will be able to see the traffic that runs through it, but not where it comes from, or where it goes to next.

Social activities on the dark web can range from being clearly morally acceptable, some others which may be considered illicit by only some, across all the way to them being considered clearly criminal, based on national and/or international legislative frameworks. We can group these activities in three categories: activism/journalism & whistleblowing, criminal activities in virtual markets, and lastly, cyber security threats (such as botnets, ransomware, etc).

Considering the amount of surveillance we are under daily, the anonymity provided by the dark web can be used for socio-political purposes, and it is a space where individuals can share their social & political beliefs and disagreements, without the fear of retribution, or the government watching them.

You might be thinking, okay, I’ll just go on reddit or another forum and log on with a fake email and a completely made-up name. Yes, this might work for you in Australia, because if your opinions are not in the extreme, no one is likely to care. However, this dark web socio-political belief sharing is necessary in countries with strong state censorship and surveillance against political activists, freedom fighters and even in some cases, journalists. They can use the dark web as a tool in order to communicate with the outside world, encourage social change and political reform, without having their identities disclosed for safety reasons.

We cannot deny that the dark web can present a serious security risk, however, its nature is not criminogenic. A lot of the activities conducted in the dark web, are also present outside of it, in our everyday life, maybe even in your neighbourhood.

Considering the Panopticon theory and the surveillance some countries/states and individuals are under, the dark web can be their only way out, towards a better future.


The reasons behind “the celebrated psychopath”, our fascination with crime & the macabre.

By Posted on 6 min read 1404 views

What does your Netflix and Spotify list look like? Is the majority of it made up of true crime shows and podcasts?

What about your library? How many true crime and detective novels occupy your bookcase? If the answer is many, you are in the right place.

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a detective, and I was one of the fortunate people that managed to get very close to their childhood dream by studying Criminology.

However, when I was about thirteen years old, and in love with everything gory, true crime was very hard to get my hands on in Greece.
The TV or the local blockbuster did not offer shows like dateline, forensic files or even unsolved mysteries, so I hadn’t even heard of them until later on in my life.
There were a couple of Greek shows based on true homicides that had taken place in Greece, and some episodes of “Deadly Women” playing on TV around 2am at night, but that’s about it.

Back then, at least where I grew up, being into crime was considered quite weird, especially for a child. I’m glad that this is not the case in 2021.

True crime shows are always trending on Netflix, a new true crime podcast seems to be popping up every month, and a lot of people are obsessed with serial killers, as well as many unsolved cases, like the case of JonBenét Ramsey (by the way, I think the brother did it).

A common question I hear is, why now? Why is the majority of the population so interested in true crime, and how has it come to be such a big part of our entertainment?

Truth is, humans have been interested in true crime since centuries ago.
Ever since the mid 1500’s, through to the 1700’s, authors used to report on capital crimes, especially when literacy rates started expanding. Pamphlets, unbound books, even ballads detailing horrific murders were printed and circulated around towns for everyone to read. Imagine going to the local bakery tomorrow and instead of a movie advertisement, you see a pamphlet detailing how your neighbour got his brains blown out two streets down.

During the 19th century, we see the emergence of a new trend in terms of crime writing, presented by authors such as Dickens and Thackeray. The trend? Crime as a site of social and aesthetic inquiry. Detective stories start gaining more popularity, with writers such as Victor Hugo and Edgar Allan Poe, followed by the legendary Arthur Conan Doyle, who gave us the ultimate detective, Sherlock Holmes.

True crime might seem to be more popular now, due to technology. Considering how easy the access is to online streaming services, more and more people are bound to stumble upon it and consume media related to crime. But we are not here to talk about the most obvious reason. My question goes much deeper than that. I wanted to know what goes on in the human psyche, what takes place in order for a person to be interested in such tragedies.

One of the biggest perks of being a criminologist, at least for me, is that I get access to a vast number of academic sources and studies on crime. And I plan on utilising them for every single article in this magazine, since I want to be able to offer my readers informed opinions.
Now, you might have heard that the majority of the audience of true crime, (especially the ones interested in serial killers), is made up of women.
One of the studies I looked into recently for my thesis, researched why women are so drawn to stories of rape, murder, and as mentioned above, serial killers.

According to the study, for a large number of women, this fascination stems from a desire to avoid becoming a victim of a deadly crime. In a lot of true crime shows, as well as true crime books, testimonies from real victims are included, as well as defence tactics and escape tricks that helped the victims survive. This means that a person watching or reading about the survival of the victim, thinks that they will do the same if they are ever found in such position.

The second reason behind this fascination is related to the psychological content presented in true crime stories. This means that often, true crime media will present various details and signs which are concerned with determining when and how a possible killer will go beyond their murderous fantasies to actually committing a crime. By knowing the signs, a woman might be able to detect them quite early, and be able to leave a partner or a friend presenting these signs, or even decide to not engage with a “friendly” stranger, before they turn violent.

Being a woman, I understand the reasoning. However, I do not relate to it, because my reasons are completely different from the ones reported by the women in the study. The reason I consume true crime media, is that I want to know the reason why these individuals chose to go down that path, what led them there, how they did it, as well as how they felt before, during and after the crime. For me, the reasoning for my passion lies within the human nature itself, and this is why the next theory is what I personally use, to explain the current true crime trend.

People heavily interested in psychology might be familiar with Jung’s concept of “the shadow”, but I will explain it for those who are not.

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist & psychoanalyst has influenced not only psychiatry and psychology, but also anthropology, literature and philosophy.

You might have referred to someone’s “dark side” when discussing true crime, and this “dark side” is exactly what “the shadow” represents, according to Jung.

The psychological concept of “the shadow”, is a part of our unconscious minds, and is composed of desires, instincts, repressed ideas and weaknesses. Our mental health is heavily depended on that “shadow”, the part of ourselves that harbors our most dark energies, including melancholia and…murderousness.

The more we repress the morbid, the more it is likely to foment certain neuroses or psychoses.
In order to achieve wholeness as people, we need to acknowledge our most “demonic” inclinations, our primitive impulses and emotions. Whatever we deem evil, inferior or unacceptable and therefore deny in ourselves (in this case, criminal behaviour), becomes part of our shadow.

Our interest and fascination with true crime, is then perhaps closely tied to our “shadow”. By consuming true crime media and exposing ourselves to some of the most macabre information we can possibly come across, we confront the morbid, and keep it under control, rather than repressing it.

Of course like everything, it can lead to extremes. To stare at the morbid, the macabre, one can be led to the point of mere insensitivity, gawking for a cheap thrill; or it can result in stunned trauma, to muteness before the horror in front of us.
However, in between those extremes, that morbid curiosity we all possess, can sometimes inspire us to imagine and come up with ways to transform life’s necessary darkness into a luminous vision.

If you are to keep anything from Jung’s theory, is that there is nothing wrong with our fascination with the macabre. If acknowledged and dealt with consciously, it can even help us better our perspective on life.

Lastly, a very interesting point that was raised by a dear family friend of mine, is that we might be so fascinated by these individuals, because they have not only reached, but also fulfilled the “last stage” of rebellion against social norms, without caring about repercussions, something that an average citizen will never be able to achieve.

To close this article, as English poet John Keats believed, ” the real rose, because it is dying, exudes more beauty than the porcelain”.