Psychological Effects of Violent Criminals

The field of Psychology is the study of the human mind. It attempts to explain how a person thinks regarding different things. It is a very vast field. Psychology also includes exploring how different organisms behave in various situations.

If we look around us and examine the crime rate, we’ll realize that crime has risen around us along with the level of violence associated with it. Looking at a number of recent vicious crimes, it is almost impossible to believe that a human being is capable of doing such violent things. For example, people have been caught in the past that have done massive killings, so what is the motivation behind this? Is this because of their nature? Is it because of their family background, or because they grew up in an environment where such things are not taken seriously.

Family background can only be a consideration if their nuclear family members’ have been engaged in the same violent activities. But we have seen such criminals whose family history was as clean as crystal, so a violent family background can’t entirely justify the reason for violent crime.

If not family background then is it their nature which forces one to commit such heinous crimes? If yes, then what makes, or changes a person’s nature?

Some feel that it is the influence of society that have changed their psychology and, hence, their nature. Societal pressures play an important role in building and changing the character of a person and eventually their attitude and psychology. An illiterate society is one of the most promising reasons that can change a human being into an animal.

There are many theories as to what motivates individuals to commit crimes. There can be hundreds of motives of why criminals carry out unlawful acts, some do it for survival, some do it to make them rich, and some do it because of vengeance and numerous others.

Committing crime for survival can’t be termed a violent crime as these types of crimes do not reflect ones true character, but merely their desire to continue living. In any case unlawful acts with the goal to make individuals rich or to gain some other benefit of the same nature can be termed as violent if they are done with intent. However crimes committed such as killing of people out of revenge or to gain benefits are termed as violent crimes since life is a precious gift which can’t be taken back once given away.

Criminals, because of society and their nature, are irresponsible, short tempered and lack patience. They tend to take shortcuts instead of putting the hard work in to achieve goals. In this procedure they begin carrying out wrongdoings, and if the motives are bigger, then the intensity of the crime also gets bigger escalating them to violent crimes. (Signorielli, 1990)

There is another theory which states that crimes are committed due to the differences in the social classes. Mostly in the undeveloped countries the elite class makes the laws and the poor are forced to follow them. This builds up a feeling of scorn among the poor and in some people this thing gets so violent that they start disobeying those laws entirely, eventually escalating to committing serious crimes.

A society in which a person grew up in is criminal in nature, it does not follow necessarily that everybody in that society to will be a criminal. A criminal becomes so because he or she chooses to commit a crime. In under developed nations, where the proficiency rate is poor and is having lack of information, a person can say that society may compel its inhabitants to commit crime with them. Still, even in those societies, if a person has a will not to commit crime, then he or she will not commit it (Moffitt, 1993).

Some people commit crime without good reason. Such people have some sort of mental disorder which compels them to carry out wrongdoings. It is to fulfill their frustration that they commit crime without having any particular motive. Such people should consult with good psychologists. Such people need medical attention more than physical punishment.

Criminals having a mental disorder is not just common to the poor. If we look around in the recent past we come across many examples in which members of the parliament have been arrested in committing crimes in different countries. Already having everything yet desiring to have more is what this mental disorder is for these sorts of people. People having mental disorders could be the reason of not getting due attention in their childhood or getting insulted by family or by society.

REFRENCES

Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy. Psychological review, 100(4), 674.

Signorielli, N., & Morgan, M. (1990). Cultivation analysis: New directions in media effects research (Vol. 108). Sage Publications, Inc.

Consensual Crimes – Not Actual Crimes

While numerous violent criminals and white-collar criminals roam free, and innocent people rot in prison and on death row for crimes they didn’t commit, law-enforcement resources are used to destroy the lives of consenting adults who do not harm anyone. One article I ready suggested that approximately four million people are arrested each year and 350,000 are in prison for consensual crimes.

I am considering a “consensual crime” to be defined as a criminal act committed by two or more people, who consent to involvement, and does not involve any non-consenting individuals. The following is a non-exclusive list of criminal acts that could be considered consensual between the parties: prostitution, adultery, homosexual conduct, sodomy, gambling, some drug use (marijuana), and assisted suicide.

Another name for these sort of “crimes” may be victimless crimes, because they do not harm anyone as they have no impact on a person other than those who chose to engage in the activity. Thus, there is no victim.

When people are arrested for those crimes, their ability to remain employed is jeopardized. A conviction and prison sentence virtually guarantees the loss of their livelihoods. Upon release from prison, the criminal record may impede their ability to find new jobs.

Even if they are not convicted of a crime, the arrest record alone can significantly harm their lives. It too can lead to loss of jobs and difficulty finding new ones, and it may interfere with other aspects of their lives, such as the ability to obtain credit, purchase a car, rent an apartment, maintain custody of children or to vote.

Thus, the financial impact of either a conviction or arrest may mean these people need long-term assistance from government or charities. Or they may resort to serious crime based on what they learned from real criminals while incarcerated. This is all a huge drain on the economy and is in addition to the costs of arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning them.

To avoid conviction and prison, the accused may have to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees. For certain crimes, the amounts can run to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. When faced with the possibility of causing financial ruin to themselves and their families, some contemplate suicide and may see it as the only way out. If this is the action the accused takes, that impacts society from the loss of productivity, and more importantly, it impacts the family and friends of the accused.

Government causes all this turmoil in the lives of consenting adults to “protect” them from possible consequences that might occur to them – and them alone – from their own freely chosen acts.

Because these arrests devastate the lives of harmless people, a strong argument can be made that Christian mercy, along with the mercy taught by other religions and philosophies, is reason enough for leaving consenting adults alone, but the irony rarely seen is that often it is in the name of Christian principles that these laws exist or are pursued….

Law-enforcement resources are wasted investigating consensual acts

Government’s focus on consensual acts leads to more unethical conduct in another way. To the extent law-enforcement resources are used against consenting adults, there is a corresponding reduction in the resources available for apprehending criminals that pose a true threat to society-those criminals who would cause harm to others and only seek to benefit themselves.

An enormous need exists to increase efforts to arrest those who harm the innocent. They victimize someone every two seconds in the United States, and five out of six Americans may someday be victims of violent crime. According to author Peter McWilliams, arrests are being made for only about 20% of crimes committed against persons or property. He also says one in six murderers gets away, eight of ten burglars aren’t arrested, and only 5% of forcible rapes lead to prison time.

McWilliams further reports that $10 billion in personal property is stolen each year and never recovered. Billions more are illicitly obtained through white-collar crime. Even if the person is not harmed, if the victim files an insurance claim or takes action to recover damages, this alone ties up resources and takes resources from the economy, causing an impact that was definitely undesired.

Using law-enforcement resources against consensual acts also makes the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorism. According to The 9/11 Commission Report, in 2000 there were twice as many FBI agents assigned to enforcing drug laws than assigned to counterterrorism. The FBI’s head of counterterrorism told the Commission he wishes he’d had “500 analysts looking at Osama Bin Ladin . . . instead of two.” And former Vice President Al Gore charged that prior to the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration’s Justice Department had more FBI agents investigating a suspected brothel in New Orleans than monitoring Bin Ladin and al Qaeda.

There obviously is a strong need for law enforcement to improve its responses to real crimes committed against persons or property. Yet each year in the U.S., law enforcement applies some $50 billion to arrest, prosecute, and lock up persons who commit consensual crimes. Some estimates are that roughly half of all law-enforcement resources are used in connection with consensual crimes.

Those resources could go a long way toward remedying the current deficiencies in law enforcement’s handling of more serious crimes. Due to this misallocation of resources, many violent and sociopathic criminals are able to escape justice and continue preying on the public. The same principle applies to white-collar criminals who may never be detected… lest we forget the Enron and WorldCom scandals.

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Los Angeles Gang Crimes Decline, Bail Habits Change

Bail habits change with crime rate decline.

Los Angeles is a city which had some of the worst gang violence in the nation throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. Los Angeles has been known as the city with the largest gang violence rate in the nation with New York City as the only comparable second despite being a drastically larger city in terms of population. Los Angeles is the only city in the nation where gang related violence is more predominant in murders than in drug offenses. California in general is linked to a large number of gangs and crimes that occur related to these gang infrastructures. A study in 2008 stated that the five most gang infested cities are Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach (within Los Angeles County), Newark and Oklahoma City.

Throughout the mid 1990’s Los Angeles was a city where gang murders dominated the headlines and police chases were such a frequent occurrence that they regularly interrupted after school cartoons with breaking news reports of another high speed chase. It was believed by many that the city could not recover from the level of violence that occurred throughout this era. One murder would often stir up retaliation between gangs leading to feuds that could persist for several months and in some cases up to several years.

In the early years of 1991, 1992, and 1993 over 1,000 citizens of the City of Los Angeles were murdered annually with the majority of these being directly related to gang retaliation and innocent citizens gunned down in gang crossfire. This led police to begin developing smarter law enforcement tactics which has coined the term “data-driven law enforcement”. It was realized by law enforcement agencies that the majority of violent crimes which occurred were classified as repressible crimes which could be prevented by increased patrols and policing habits.

With the realization that data and enhanced tactics could curb a large portion of crimes the Los Angeles police department in conjunction with other supporting law enforcement agencies have began setting an example to the nation on how to clean up crime ridden streets. So what are some of the factors that helped to decrease the rate of crimes among gangs in Los Angeles?

Community Programs:
Community programs were an integral part of the law enforcement officials in Los Angeles County. Gang activity is typically territory oriented which tends to effect specific communities. In many cases gangs would employ fear and intimidation tactics to dissuade members of the community from reporting crimes or providing information to the police department. In many gang ridden areas the communities did not trust law enforcement agents so community outreach programs were put in place to help mend the trust relations between police departments and communities.

Additionally community programs have been implemented within the prison systems in the State of California that help to rehabilitate gang members. One of the most difficult challenges law enforcement agents face is attempting to dissuade a paroled gang member from joining back up with their old associates. Previously there were no intervention methods or help for a former gang member to provide the support they needed to leave their gang lifestyle behind. Many of these individuals grew up within a gang culture from a very young age and are not accustomed to how citizens properly act within society.

Revised Legislation:
Another method used by law enforcement agencies in conjunction with state political and judicial agencies was the passing of legislation to increase sentences for gang related crimes, repeat offenders and specific crimes. One of the most known uses of this was with the passage of California’s 3 Strike Law in 1994. This law was proposed in State Legislation and was voted into the state by its citizens. The law would be further amended in 2000 in California’s Proposition 36 where drug related offenses should prioritize rehabilitation programs over life sentences for drug addicts convicted of non violent offenses.

Data Driven Investigations:
The use of technology and data has significantly increased the effectiveness of law enforcement personnel. Both national and statewide databases have been developed in attempts to link unsolved crimes and patterns of violence. This has allowed police officers to intervene on more and more crimes before they occur or while they are in progress as opposed to investigating these after they occur. Additionally gang databases have allowed increased interception of drug shipments and the dismantling of the financial structures of sophisticated organized crime syndicates.

Changes in bail bond habits:
With the decrease in crime rate since the mid 1990’s there has also been a significant change in bail bonds consumer habits which reflect an interesting insight into some of the issues cities like Los Angeles face. Prior to 1996 the most commonly used bond type was a property bond or a bond of other asset value, however with the decrease in crime rates the bail bonds industry has seen a decline in this particular bond type. The most frequently used bail bond now is the surety bond which has gained popularity after the passing of stricter legislation and a decrease in overall crime in Los Angeles. From this trend one can infer that the families of individuals facing criminal trials are less likely to put property or other valuable assets up as collateral to bail their loved ones out of jail.

Legalizing Crime

The state has a monopoly on behaviour usually deemed criminal. It murders, kidnaps, and locks up people. Sovereignty has come to be identified with the unbridled – and exclusive – exercise of violence. The emergence of modern international law has narrowed the field of permissible conduct. A sovereign can no longer commit genocide or ethnic cleansing with impunity, for instance.

Many acts – such as the waging of aggressive war, the mistreatment of minorities, the suppression of the freedom of association – hitherto sovereign privilege, have thankfully been criminalized. Many politicians, hitherto immune to international prosecution, are no longer so. Consider Yugoslavia’s Milosevic and Chile’s Pinochet.

But, the irony is that a similar trend of criminalization – within national legal systems – allows governments to oppress their citizenry to an extent previously unknown. Hitherto civil torts, permissible acts, and common behaviour patterns are routinely criminalized by legislators and regulators. Precious few are decriminalized.

Consider, for instance, the criminalization in the Economic Espionage Act (1996) of the misappropriation of trade secrets and the criminalization of the violation of copyrights in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (2000) – both in the USA. These used to be civil torts. They still are in many countries. Drug use, common behaviour in England only 50 years ago – is now criminal. The list goes on.

Criminal laws pertaining to property have malignantly proliferated and pervaded every economic and private interaction. The result is a bewildering multitude of laws, regulations statutes, and acts.

The average Babylonian could have memorizes and assimilated the Hammurabic code 37 centuries ago – it was short, simple, and intuitively just.

English criminal law – partly applicable in many of its former colonies, such as India, Pakistan, Canada, and Australia – is a mishmash of overlapping and contradictory statutes – some of these hundreds of years old – and court decisions, collectively known as “case law”.

Despite the publishing of a Model Penal Code in 1962 by the American Law Institute, the criminal provisions of various states within the USA often conflict. The typical American can’t hope to get acquainted with even a negligible fraction of his country’s fiendishly complex and hopelessly brobdignagian criminal code. Such inevitable ignorance breeds criminal behaviour – sometimes inadvertently – and transforms many upright citizens into delinquents.

In the land of the free – the USA – close to 2 million adults are behind bars and another 4.5 million are on probation, most of them on drug charges. The costs of criminalization – both financial and social – are mind boggling. According to “The Economist”, America’s prison system cost it $54 billion a year – disregarding the price tag of law enforcement, the judiciary, lost product, and rehabilitation.

What constitutes a crime? A clear and consistent definition has yet to transpire.

There are five types of criminal behaviour: crimes against oneself, or “victimless crimes” (such as suicide, abortion, and the consumption of drugs), crimes against others (such as murder or mugging), crimes among consenting adults (such as incest, and in certain countries, homosexuality and euthanasia), crimes against collectives (such as treason, genocide, or ethnic cleansing), and crimes against the international community and world order (such as executing prisoners of war). The last two categories often overlap.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica provides this definition of a crime: “The intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under the criminal law.”

But who decides what is socially harmful? What about acts committed unintentionally (known as “strict liability offences” in the parlance)? How can we establish intention – “mens rea”, or the “guilty mind” – beyond a reasonable doubt?

A much tighter definition would be: “The commission of an act punishable under the criminal law.” A crime is what the law – state law, kinship law, religious law, or any other widely accepted law – says is a crime. Legal systems and texts often conflict.

Murderous blood feuds are legitimate according to the 15th century “Qanoon”, still applicable in large parts of Albania. Killing one’s infant daughters and old relatives is socially condoned – though illegal – in India, China, Alaska, and parts of Africa. Genocide may have been legally sanctioned in Germany and Rwanda – but is strictly forbidden under international law.

Laws being the outcomes of compromises and power plays, there is only a tenuous connection between justice and morality. Some “crimes” are categorical imperatives. Helping the Jews in Nazi Germany was a criminal act – yet a highly moral one.

The ethical nature of some crimes depends on circumstances, timing, and cultural context. Murder is a vile deed – but assassinating Saddam Hussein may be morally commendable. Killing an embryo is a crime in some countries – but not so killing a fetus. A “status offence” is not a criminal act if committed by an adult. Mutilating the body of a live baby is heinous – but this is the essence of Jewish circumcision. In some societies, criminal guilt is collective. All Americans are held blameworthy by the Arab street for the choices and actions of their leaders. All Jews are accomplices in the “crimes” of the “Zionists”.

In all societies, crime is a growth industry. Millions of professionals – judges, police officers, criminologists, psychologists, journalists, publishers, prosecutors, lawyers, social workers, probation officers, wardens, sociologists, non-governmental-organizations, weapons manufacturers, laboratory technicians, graphologists, and private detectives – derive their livelihood, parasitically, from crime. They often perpetuate models of punishment and retribution that lead to recidivism rather than to to the reintegration of criminals in society and their rehabilitation.

Organized in vocal interest groups and lobbies, they harp on the insecurities and phobias of the alienated urbanites. They consume ever growing budgets and rejoice with every new behaviour criminalized by exasperated lawmakers. In the majority of countries, the justice system is a dismal failure and law enforcement agencies are part of the problem, not its solution.

The sad truth is that many types of crime are considered by people to be normative and common behaviours and, thus, go unreported. Victim surveys and self-report studies conducted by criminologists reveal that most crimes go unreported. The protracted fad of criminalization has rendered criminal many perfectly acceptable and recurring behaviours and acts. Homosexuality, abortion, gambling, prostitution, pornography, and suicide have all been criminal offences at one time or another.

But the quintessential example of over-criminalization is drug abuse.

There is scant medical evidence that soft drugs such as cannabis or MDMA (“Ecstasy”) – and even cocaine – have an irreversible effect on brain chemistry or functioning. Last month an almighty row erupted in Britain when Jon Cole, an addiction researcher at Liverpool University, claimed, to quote “The Economist” quoting the “Psychologist”, that:

“Experimental evidence suggesting a link between Ecstasy use and problems such as nerve damage and brain impairment is flawed … using this ill-substantiated cause-and-effect to tell the ‘chemical generation’ that they are brain damaged when they are not creates public health problems of its own.”

Moreover, it is commonly accepted that alcohol abuse and nicotine abuse can be at least as harmful as the abuse of marijuana, for instance. Yet, though somewhat curbed, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are legal. In contrast, users of cocaine – only a century ago recommended by doctors as tranquilizer – face life in jail in many countries, death in others. Almost everywhere pot smokers are confronted with prison terms.

The “war on drugs” – one of the most expensive and protracted in history – has failed abysmally. Drugs are more abundant and cheaper than ever. The social costs have been staggering: the emergence of violent crime where none existed before, the destabilization of drug-producing countries, the collusion of drug traffickers with terrorists, and the death of millions – law enforcement agents, criminals, and users.

Few doubt that legalizing most drugs would have a beneficial effect. Crime empires would crumble overnight, users would be assured of the quality of the products they consume, and the addicted few would not be incarcerated or stigmatized – but rather treated and rehabilitated.

That soft, largely harmless, drugs continue to be illicit is the outcome of compounded political and economic pressures by lobby and interest groups of manufacturers of legal drugs, law enforcement agencies, the judicial system, and the aforementioned long list of those who benefit from the status quo.

Only a popular movement can lead to the decriminalization of the more innocuous drugs. But such a crusade should be part of a larger campaign to reverse the overall tide of criminalization. Many “crimes” should revert to their erstwhile status as civil torts. Others should be wiped off the statute books altogether. Hundreds of thousands should be pardoned and allowed to reintegrate in society, unencumbered by a past of transgressions against an inane and inflationary penal code.

This, admittedly, will reduce the leverage the state has today against its citizens and its ability to intrude on their lives, preferences, privacy, and leisure. Bureaucrats and politicians may find this abhorrent. Freedom loving people should rejoice.