Thursday, November 1, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: "Call the Cops! There is a Woman in Psychological Trouble in Aisle Three!"

I was introduced to a new concept while doing Nancy Grace last night (hmm....that doesn't sound quite right, now does it?). One of the other guests aired the view that a woman who was caught shoplifting (at 38 years old and her tenth arrest) doesn't need jail time but counseling. Clearly, this expert declared she has psychological problems and we shouldn't be taking up space in the prisons with this woman when there are pedophiles who need to be kept inside. Interesting argument....

I am trying to wrap my head around this thinking. We have laws on the record and police to catch persons who break these laws, but this is really only a psychological screening process set up to identify citizens in need of mental health counseling? Considering the woman's lawyer actually said she had already been in counseling and was already on probation for another crime, at what point do we decide that the woman is actually a criminal as opposed simply an emotionally disturbed individual?

At what point do we decide breaking the law is actually deserving of punishment and removal from society as opposed to a free offer of psychological services? Couldn't a pedophile be just as emotionally disturbed as a shoplifter? What about a murderer? Isn't he so emotionally distraught that he can't help himself from striking out?

I have no problem with criminals receiving mental health care. I just think they ought to do their time as well. After all, what is the point of even having laws if breaking them is only considered a cry for help? If this is what the law is all about, I think we should take all laws off the books and set up a system of emotional guards instead of security guards. The next time this woman tries to walk out of a store with hundreds of dollars of stolen goods, one of these guards can get out his megaphone and shout, "Lady in need of counseling! Lady in need of counseling!" Maybe she will get the message and stop by customer service and pick up her free counseling coupon to be redeemed at any counseling counter at her local Walmart store.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


preraphazon said...

I agree, but I do think given the shortage of jail space, some prioritizing should be done. For example, here they do drunk traps and waste a bunch of resources on someone who may have only had one drink and may go their whole life without having a negative effect on any other person, while they're letting violent criminals out early. If we're not going to provide enough prison space and police and court resources to enforce all the laws, then we do need to pick and choose. However, thieves wouldn't be my first choice to let off the hook. But it is done every day. They so rarely get any jail time.

And no one is sicker than me of local politicians in charge of our budgets giving the public the false impression that a lot of crimes can be prevented by "diversionary programs." Okay, if by that you mean start counseling them when they're under seven years old, then I am on your bandwagon. Starting when they're 30-year-old criminals at their peak is fruitless.

Just because someone steals doesn't mean a person is mentally ill. If so, just about every girl I knew in high school was mentally ill when the new season's bikini line arrived at Penney's in 1970.

Many years ago, a 15-year-old boy I didn't know broke into my house and took all my non-flannel underwear, plus cash and jewelry, turning over every single thing in my house onto the floor. I was terrified, because I didn't know it was a kid for 3 months, until they caught him giving away money at school and found barrels of underwear in his back yard. And I still wouldn't have known if he hadn't then called the police at 3 a.m. and told them to come to my house.

Six months later, the same thing happened again. I had my dad's deer rifle by then. I came home, the phone line was cut, the rifle was gone, and again with the panties.

I was so mad that he wasn't locked up. Of course, he was underaged. In my wisdom, I went and got drunk and THEN went to the police station at 4:00 a.m., and asked to speak to a juvenile detective, who was, miraculously, there and very kindly didn't lock me up for losing my temper at him. He showed me a scroll six feet long of the kid's prior offenses. They really couldn't touch him. A friend of a friend worked in detention somewhere and pulled a few strings on my behalf and got the kid sent out of state for awhile.

Now, no doubt, this kid could have used some counseling. At 15, I'd say it's worth a shot, though I don't have much faith any small amount of counseling the system could provide would be enough to have much of an effect, especially since there seems to be widespread misconceptions about the criminal mind in psychiatric circles. Give me this same kid at 25 or 30, and I think it's too late. I think by then, he's raping or worse. Counsel him, fine, but do it while he's locked up. And we'll never allocate enough funds to do that properly so that it's effective, so I don't want to hear politicians talking about throwing a little money into diversionary programs and counseling programs instead of building more prisons. We need to throw a lot of money both places, but of course that would interfere with politicians catering to special interests for personal gain.

The time for counseling is school age, and we should have some system in place to make that mandatory if the parent is not willing to take care of a serious pattern of behavior or can't afford to. A lot of people are under the impression that we can give a criminal pills and turn them back out on the streets safely, but what no one bothers to tell them is that 80% of people on psychotropic drugs do not take their drugs as prescribed, quit taking them when they feel better or when they don't want to afford it or bother with it, think they can take more or less than prescribed because they don't understand that these drugs have to build up in the system or whatever. We can't medicate criminals and let them out. We have to medicate them and keep them in so we can make them take their pills!

And anyway, how crazy are they, really? If they were really crazy, they'd steal, rape or kill right out on the street in front of everyone. There are very few who are so crazy they forget to hide their crimes.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

Scary stuff about the 15-year-old boy. All his behaviors are those of a rapist in the making. Sadly, at 15, he is already a sexual psychopath and the only thing to keep him from going on to being a rapist is fear of consequences.

Fear of consequences is what is so sadly missing today, both in dealing with criminals and our own children. We have no discipline and, therefore, rules are broken over and over and there is nothing learned except the risk is worth it because 9 times out of 10 you will either get away with the crime (you win) or you will get caught and not punished (you win again because you get another chance to try again and not get caught and therefore win).

We have let the criminality increase to such a point we have to many crimes and criminals to deal with. Same kind of problems in our schools; if so many of the kids are unruly and rude, it is very hard to do anything about it when "Everyone IS doing it!"

preraphazon said...

You're right. I mean, look how many times you have to commit a crime before you do any time. And worse, it starts in elementary school, where administration is so afraid of race and abuse accusations by parents that they dare not do anything. And really, even when I was a kid and corporal punishment was allowed, if two kids got in a fight, say because a bully was beating up a victim, both kids were punished, rather than getting to the bottom of it and punishing only the bully. So it's an old problem.

And our justice system seems to bend over backwards to keep from putting someone in jail.

That 15-year-old was untouchable then. Some of the laws have changed now. I think teenage years is exactly the years we should, figuratively, hit thieves and violent offenders with every resource, something resembling a real jail but coupled with intense high-quality therapy. It's the last chance.

By the way, I never saw that panty-snatcher, but I saw his house. It was a small shack a few blocks from my slightly better shack. It was pretty extreme poverty.

Levi said...

I am all for mental health counseling . But once someone commits a crime they need to go to jail and any counseling they get should be behind bars and after their prison sentence is over.

It's like the new witch hunt instead of hanging them we are letting them go free to get "mental health."