Friday, November 16, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: "My Bad!"

I was just reading this horrifying story about how there is a rise in homeless men being attacked a beaten by teenagers who get a kick out of violent aggression. In one case, four underage boys beat a fellow to death and then went about bragging of the crime. Now, CNN interviewed one of the convicted teens, Nathan Moore, claims it was a “mistake” and there was no premeditated plan to hurt the homeless man. Drinking and mob mentality caused this aberration of behavior.

Let’s think about this mistake: can it be a mistake?

Someone makes a mistake when they forget to set the alarm and are late for work.

Someone makes a mistake when they put a cup of salt in the cookie recipe instead of a cup of sugar.

Someone makes a mistake when they forgot to lock the baby gate and the child takes a tumble.

You don’t beat someone to death by mistake.
You don’t rape someone by mistake..
You don’t steal a car by mistake.

When you come right down to it, it is pretty near impossible to commit a felony crime by mistake. You have to really work at it.

But, even our court system buys into this mistake foolishness and gives a criminal a slap on the wrist because, after all, he just made a mistake and we should give him a second chance. When did our society start believing that crossing the line into criminal behavior is just accidental? I can’t even begin to imagine my children (now grown) burglarizing a neighbor’s house, or raping a female friend from the neighborhood, or setting someone’s home on fire. Yet, I know quite a few parents who do not think this is all that unusual behavior for teenagers; some actually accept criminal behavior as a rite of passage for kids. This kind of thinking is pretty darn scary.

If criminal behavior is but a mistake, we might as well decriminalize it. Wait, maybe we already have. Probation is what we give to first time criminals because they just made a mistake and it takes quite a few mistakes sometimes before the criminal justice system finally believes the criminal is actually making a choice.

It is about time we realize that he made the choice the first time out and make him pay for it.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


transfattyacid said...

maybe what he means by 'it was a mistake' is that they didn't mean to kill him or hurt him.

After all we do live in an age of consequenceless violence.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

How can you not mean to hurt someone when you are kicking the crap out of him? No, I think it is the usual excuse for doing wrong many give when they are caught and don't want to suffer the consequences of their actions.

I made a "mistake" myself yesterday. I ate nachos at the movies and gain weight. Of course, I was well aware that I would gain weight from eating those nachos but at the time I was having my craving, I didn't care. After I ate the stupid things, I felt kind of sick from all that fat and wished I hadn't eaten them. I had my thrill, the thrill was now over and done, and the consequences were feeling crappy and looking fat.

I could claim this was a mistake, but I didn't do it accidentally or without awareness. I had a lot of time to decide before I pulled out my money, gave my order, accepted the goods, and carried it to the theatre. I was a greedy pig and I wanted what I wanted. I am paying for it today.

preraphazon said...

Some psychologists believe that teenagers, whose brains aren't fully developed, cannot always fully predict the consequences of their actions into the future. I'm not sure I agree with that as a generality, but I do think it can be true in some cases. However, I don't see how anyone could not at least partially fathom that intentional battery of a person would have dire consequences, though I can well imagine they probably don't fathom the entirety of the consequences. For example, they may never have considered the impact on the victim's family, nor even their own. Teenagers may be more prone to believe they are invincible and cannot get caught, just as they typically believe they are immortal and take more chances than most adults.

I have to assume anyone actively participating in a battery comprehends that they are causing suffering and either doesn't care or they are weaker followers who have gone along with it either to protect themselves from retaliation by the stronger leader or out of stupidity or naivety, not believing that anything will really happen, that it is all play and the other boys are all bluff and won't really carry out the plan. It seems that you hear that a lot from teenagers. I do think in the teenage years, there is some gray areas there.

But I also think that any attentive fifth grade teacher can point out to you who your future criminals are going to be. Because whether violence is committed through cold calculation or blind sheeplike weakness and stupidity, it has the same consequences, and there's plenty of both filling our prisons. Oops.