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Blood Money

Cal Lutheran professor discusses book on criminal justice in Saudi Arabia.

September 09, 2000|ANN SHIELDS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Justice can be harsh and sometimes arbitrary. You might have a hand cut off for theft under Islamic law. Or a convicted killer might escape execution by paying off the victim's family. It's called blood money, and you can read about it in Robert J. Meadows' "What Price for Blood? Murder and Justice in Saudi Arabia" (Robert D. Reed Publishers; $21.95).

Meadows, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Cal Lutheran University, will be the featured speaker Tuesday at the Ventura County Writers Club at Borders in Thousand Oaks. He will discuss Saudi Arabian justice as it was applied in a 1997 murder case that drew international attention when two British nurses were accused of murdering an Australian colleague.

"This case was big news in England and Europe," Meadows said. "If this was a Third World nation and these nurses had no connections, we probably never would have heard about it."

He plans to use the book--which also offers a basic understanding of the culture and laws of the country--in his classes as a case study to show how things can work in a country that discloses very little information about its justice system. An appendix includes the Saudi Arabia Constitution, adopted in March of 1992 by decree of King Fahd.

Blood money is like a civil suit, he said. In the Islamic legal system, the family assumes and controls the destiny of the offender as far as life or death is concerned, although the offender can still go to prison.

The blood money in this case came from the family of the two nurses and went to the family of the victim, although Meadows said the money supposedly came from British aerospace firms in order to ease tension between Britain and Saudi Arabia.

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An expert on the criminal justice system, Meadows lives in Moorpark and was a Los Angeles police officer before entering the academic world. He previously wrote "Violence and Victimization" and "Fundamentals of Protection," both published by Prentice-Hall, and is collaborating with a colleague on another book, "Toxic Teenagers."

Written as a guide to parents and professionals, the latest book focuses on how to deal with defiant teens, why they are defiant and the legal implications of having a teen who gets into trouble. He is shopping for a publisher for the book, he said.

Meadows said the theme through all his books is violence that springs from jealousy and rage. As for justice, "That's an open question," he said. "It's situational."

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On a loftier note, you can learn how to use intuition in the workplace at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble when Gina Giacomini discusses her book "Bringing Intuition to Work: A Quick Step-by-Step Approach" (Innervisions Publications; $14.95).

Giacomini said she wrote her book at the request of clients who attended her inner awareness seminars targeting individuals and businesses over the past 12 years. Chapters include personal experiences, anecdotes and illustrated exercises.

During her discussion, Giacomini will demonstrate how to improve focus and handle stress. In one exercise, she teaches how to redirect the flow of energy coming at you by using hand movements. Since boundaries are important, she had a special tool made as a reminder to set her boundaries throughout the day, she said. She described it as a snazzy little pen that says on it, "Talk to the hand."

"When people say that someone is pushing their buttons, maybe our buttons, or issues, are out so far that people can't help running into them," she said. "When you meet people that seem angry, they may be bumping into what we've shoved out, because we don't want to deal with it."

Giacomini, who lives in Coloma, Calif., is a teacher during the school year and a river guide on the South Fork of the America River during the summer.

HAPPENINGS

* Sunday: 1 p.m. Chuck Freadhoff will discuss and sign "A Permanent Twilight." At 2:30 p.m., Laura Lippman will discuss and sign "The Sugar House." Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Sunday: 2 p.m. Gina Giacomini will discuss and sign "Bringing Intuition to Work." Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., 446-2820.

* Sunday: 6 p.m. Poetry discussion followed by a featured poet and open mike at 8 p.m. Borders, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. Val McDermid will discuss and sign "A Place of Execution." Mysteries to Die For, 374-0084.

* Tuesday: 7:30 p.m. The Ventura County Writers Club will hear Cal Lutheran professor Robert J. Meadows discuss "What Price for Blood? Murder and Justice in Saudi Arabia." There will also be brief presentations from Joanne Cantrell on computers and Kathy Schultz on the National Writers Union. For more information, contact Joanne Sehnem at 579-9419. Borders, 497-8159.

* Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. Story time about the moon and the stars. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., 339-9170.

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. The Wednesday Night Readers will discuss "Sophie's World" by Jostein Gaarder. Ventura Barnes & Noble (339-9170).

* Wednesday: 8 p.m. A poetry workshop, which meets the second and third Wednesday of each month. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 339-9170.

* Thursday: 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Two Harry Potter Fan Club meetings, at 3:30 for kids in grades 3 and 4, and at 4:30 p.m. for fifth-graders and up. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Friday: 7 p.m. Griffin Hart will discuss and sign "Wyakin." Ventura Barnes & Noble, 339-9170.

* Friday: 7 p.m. Story time on Franklin the Turtle from the series by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 339-9170.

Information about book signings, writers groups and publishing events can be e-mailed to anns40@aol.com or faxed to (805)647-5649.

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