A View of Criminal Justice

A View of Criminal Justice

Over the course of this summer, I have been able to visit some of the prime museum spots such as the National Crime and Punishment museum and the NSA's National Cryptologic Museum. These different places each explore different aspects that have made each criminal justice agency unique since their beginnings.

The first stop I made was to the National Crime and Punishment Museum. Right when you walk into the front door you are greeted with the actual Volkswagen Beetle of Ted Bundy. Continuing through, it would start with the history of actual punishment tactics that were used to discipline criminals.


Bundy Car


Following this was the section dedicated to different criminals that have been known for their work in the prohibition and bank robbery era of crime. Here was featured people like Al Capone (a model of his actual jail cell), Bonnie and Clyde (and the actual car used in their biopic movie), John Dillinger (the mold of his face from when he was shot) and solo workers like "Baby Face" Nelson and "Pretty Boy" Floyd. This was interesting to see guns that they used in major shootouts like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre or the badges of their captors, who include FBI Agent Melvin Purvis.


Moving into the next section of the museum is where it got the most interesting. This is where they housed their collection of different memorabilia from notorious serial killers that have terrorized this country. Here I was able to see interesting items from John Wayne Gacy; they had two of the clown suits that he wore and even a painting that he made in prison, which would be signed by MLB legends, unbeknownst to them who the artist was.


The most impactful spot here was seeing the current exhibit that they just had placed in about dog fighting. It was emotional to see some of the things that these "trainers" would use on dogs in order to get them ready to fight. It was interesting to see some of the paperwork used in the capture of Michael Vick.


This museum featured a variety of artifacts from all aspects of criminal justice from the investigation to the capture of some of these infamous people in our country's history. They showed what it takes to be one of these officers or agents who still go after criminals today. They even had in the basement of this building the old television filming station for the show "To Catch a Predator."



My next stop was visiting the National Security Agency's Cryptologic Museum. Throughout my tour here I was able to see how far we have come in coding messages in times of war in order to keep information secret from our enemies. From the beginning with waving flags from atop high points, to know with all of the computer encryptions and secret phone lines. They had actual machines from the times, like the last made U.S. Navy Cryptanalytic Bombes, which is an old war machine that deciphered messages.



They also had what is known as an Enigma machine, which was used by the Nazi's in World War II. I was even able to type a message into this machine. Also, I was able to code a message using invisible ink. The special part about this place though was the section that they had dedicated to their fallen agents. It was a staggering list of men and women who "served in silence". In front of this wall was also a piece of the Pentagon that was demolished after 9/11.



Finally, I was able to go to see the brief and slight museum dedicated to the history of the DEA. In the front of their headquarters they had a little museum that showed artifacts from some of their larger busts. These would include a mold of Pablo Escobar's face from the time that he was killed, wrappers that were used to sell heroin and similarly to the NSA, they had a wall dedicated to the agents that they lost in the line of duty.



All of these places, and the number of others that are all over the D.C. area, are a true tribute to the law enforcement men and women who have served our country. It is definitely worth it to pay respect to them by learning about what they did and visiting their dedication sites.


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