Lawless Lands

lawless-lands-3What happens in the absence of government and who or what comes in to fill the void? Sometimes, it’s a strongman enforcing his will; other times, it’s just anarchy, and occasionally it’s something completely unexpected.

This episode starts in Libya, where police no longer can maintain the rule of law, and the only thing people can do is call for help from the dozens of armed groups that keep order – but they operate according to their own rules.

Next, we head to the rural West – Josephine County in Oregon – where budget cuts have stretched law enforcement to the breaking point. There’s no detectives division, the jail runs on a skeleton crew, and deputies patrol just 10 hours a day. Fixing the problem would mean raising local taxes, but residents refuse to do so.

Then follows Crystal City in Texas. The town’s mayor has been arrested – several times – and the FBI took away most of the city council in handcuffs after they allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for awarding permits and city contracts. Without a functioning government, things have spiraled out of control.

The final stop is a swath of desert wedged between Sudan and southern Egypt – Bir Tawil (beer tah-WEEL) – the last unclaimed territory on earth, and it’s been that way for more than 100 years due to a dispute over competing maps and a neighboring stretch of desert. A farmer from Virginia has decided to make this place his very own kingdom.