Sunday, July 8, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Welcome to the "I Made a Mistake" System

Here in the twin cities a young woman working at a video store let her boyfriend and his friends in after hours to steal some 1000 plus videos. The loss to the store was enough to charge these thieves with a felony. The story wouldn’t have been particularly eye catching if it hadn’t been for a statement made by one of the detectives that the behavior of the girl and her accomplices was “stupid young adult behavior.” Hello? Just stupid behavior? Theft is stupid behavior? I always thought maybe getting carried away with sex as a teenager and getting pregnant was stupid behavior or maybe drinking too much was a stupid behavior. I guess society has really gone downhill so far that juvenile and young adult crime is now considered nothing but a folly of youth.

When I was seven years old, I found a pen on the playground half buried in the dirt under a bush. I took it home and cleaned it off. I found it was a very pretty copper pen and I liked it; so I kept it. I hid it in my keepsake box where I have it to this day. I felt horribly guilty about not taking it into the school office where the rightful owner might recover it. I knew I was wrong for keeping the pen when it was not legitimately mine and I knew I was a thief, I hid the pen and felt ashamed for years. I never stole again.

This story would be laughable today. But, when I was growing up, I knew if I showed the pen to my mother she would have asked where I got it from and then she would tell me it wasn’t mine to keep and she would have marched me up to the school to give it back. Apparently, both my mother and I knew right from wrong and even a little school kid back in those days knew that taking or keeping what was not honestly obtained was criminal or at least highly unethical behavior. Now, it seems, breaking the law is not a criminal act but a stupid one. It is a "mistake,” not an evil act. Even murder is often labeled "just" a bad choice, a moment of stupidity, or an error.

I hate to see what genocide is now considered.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Ronni said...

I have a sterling silver ring. I call it my Honesty Ring, because I found it on the floor of a store I used to clean. When I found it, I knew I could keep it and nobody would ever know. Except me. I turned it in at the Customer Service counter, and there it stayed in the Lost and Found until the first of January, when they threw all that out. As the cleaning contractor, I took out the trash, so I retrieved it from there and kept it.

So, I got to have my cake and eat it, too.

If there is anyone out there who lost a ring in the Beall's store in Round Rock, TX about 20 years ago, leave me a comment on my blog, describing it, and I will return it.

preraph said...

Ethics. You either have them or you don't. When I was a teenager, nearly everyone I knew had shoplifted at one time or another. I had my own brand of trouble I got into, but stealing was never it. One day I was in a discount store browsing and I picked out a birthday card, had it in my hand and kept looking at other things for a long time, records and clothes. I didn't buy anything, so I left the store. And I was halfway home when I realized I had carried the card out without paying. I was in such a panic. I was afraid to go back to the store, but I did, and told them what happened and paid for it. I doubt they believed me though.

Once when I was young, I found a wallet while I was out horseback riding. It had the man's ID in it, and I rode miles into town on horseback to take the wallet to him.

I agree, people have simply quit instilling ethics in their kids. I know some do, but it seems that there's more who just defend them when they do something bad, or are in denial about it.

Eyes said...

Why do think this change has come about?

I've noticed similar changes in how we as a society behave. Social etiquette is certainly not what is was when I was growing up either.

However, unlike you, when a pen is discarded and buried in the dirt - I wouldn't have felt like a thief. It was carelessly discarded, and sat for a long time -- and obviously wasn't missed, or perhaps wanted.

Had the pen been new and shiny and just placed there -- that is a different situation :)

I'm looking forward to reading your blog. I found you through Steve Huff.

Levi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Levi said...

What is shocking is the "I made a mistaken system" is not only being applied to small crimes, but also like crimes like murder now-a-days. Cody Posey got a mere 5 yrs for killing his father, step mother and sister.