CriminologyBy Falak Sher Khan • Dec 3rd, 2009 • Category: Politics • 6 Comments
A few days back, there were a bundle of articles on conditions of jails and the mistreatment done with the inmates in jails. During that particular period, I took interest in the issue and went to Attock jail for a better understanding of the whole issue but to my amazement, the situation there was not as dire as I was expecting. The inmates were not being tortured or ill-treated in any way. Neither were the prisoners in any of the conditions as portrayed in some of the articles that I went through earlier. After being granted permission to observe 302 Murder (Death Sentenced) convicts, two experienced officials briefed me thoroughly about the system and structure of jail and afterward guided to me to the death cells. The inmates were getting ready to say their prayers and we waited for them to be done. After about fifteen minutes, I started my interview from them one by one regarding the behavior of the administration. They expressed briefly that administration is very cooperative and no one mistreat us but our captivity place is too crammed to lie down easily.
One of the prisoners was very young and really good looking with gleaming blue eyes, I asked for his act of penalty, he replied that a friend of his abused him verbally and, getting provoked, he fired three shots on him, thus ending up in death cell. He further revealed that he was merely seventeen years old when he committed the crime and now after 7 years, he is 23 years old. Another shocking case was about a young boy about 22 years of age who killed his own father with a dagger and it was about a week or so that he had been in custody, yet he had not changed the Kurta (Shirt) that had the blood stains of his father all over it. These incidents of very young individuals taking such drastic steps were beyond me. Subsequently, it raised a query in my mind that what could be going on in the mind of an individual or culprit that he takes such dire steps. It is difficult for a normal person even to see someone getting hurt rather than actually killing someone and to be able to live with the burden of a guilty conscience is a perpetual torture in itself. What can be the reason of one man killing another man was a question revolving in my sub conscious endlessly. A close friend of mine advised me to study the subject of Criminology, which is defined as the scientific study of crime and criminal behavior. Criminology is an advanced, theoretical field of study. It is the study of crime, the cause of crime (Etiology), the meaning of crime in terms of law and community and the reaction to crime.
Theory is a complex subject in its own right and criminological theory is no exception. Criminals do not just take any step or decision. They are individuals, like us, but are affected, directly or indirectly, by their surroundings in one way or the other, mostly facing negative scenarios. According to research on criminal behavior, there are varieties of rational decisions that a criminal would make in the process of committing a crime. In criminology, criminologists keep in mind the factor that is free will but they eliminate some aspects such as background and situational factors that might incline someone towards committing a crime. In 18th century, criminology arose as social philosophers gave thought to crime and concepts of law. Over time, several schools of thought have developed. Two prominent schools were Classical & Positivist. In the Classical school, philosophers argued that people have the free will to choose how to act, all behavior is guided by hedonism (pleasure/pain calculation), all crime is the result of free will and hedonism, all punishment should fit the offense (equal treatment under law) and bad people are nothing more that the result of bad laws. It is important to note that the classical school was not very much concerned with criminals. They rejected retribution-based punishment because it focused too much on individual criminals than crime, crime control, the reform of the criminal justice system and the making of good laws. Second was Positivist School, Positivist school of thought assumes that criminal behavior is the result of internal and external factors outside of the individual’s control.
The part of Positivism that referred to as “positive” was the forward-looking attitude toward social and personal betterment (the perfectibility of both society and human nature), Positivism is the search for other, multiple factors as the cause of human behavior. It represents a distinct shift from a focus on law and crime control to the inner workings of the criminal mind, and what makes it tick. Positivism can be broken up into three segments mainly biological, psychological and social positivism. Biological theory treats the defects and protects society from the untreatable. Psychological theory, predicts, prevents and therapeutically intervenes. Intervention therapies include psychoanalysis, group therapy, counseling, family therapy, drug treatment, and reconditioning. Psychoanalysis involves correcting childhood problems. Cognitive therapy involves learning new ways to think, tendency to do better with sexual and violent crimes, but ignores situational factors and has some untreatable assumptions. Sociological positivism claims that societal factors such as poverty, membership of subcultures, or low levels of education can incline people to crime. There is a term in psychology namely “Motive”. Motive is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action towards a desired goal, the reason for the action that which gives purpose and direction to behavior. Criminology covers the concepts of motive to a vast extend. Criminology studies the motives behind any crime that takes place but motives alone is usually not sufficient explanations by themselves. There may be facilitating or triggering factors like presence of a gun and victim provocation. There are mainly to date 67 motives and to understand these motives same number of theories are developed. Some of them are mostly common in people of Pakistan, briefly written here are some of them to understand the reason behind crimes. Anti Social Personality disorder are one of the main factors behind crime and is very common problem in Pakistani society, it includes individuals who cannot contain their urges to harm people physically or mentally, repeatedly for no apparent reason are to suffer from some mental illness. They may be choosing not to control their urges, they know right from wrong.
Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) main traits are that they are impenitent, Apathetic to others, blameful of others, Manipulative and conning, affectively cold, socially irresponsible, disregardful of obligations, nonconforming to norms, Irresponsible. The occurrence of APD is twice as high for inner-city residents as compared to people of rural & five times higher in males than in females. It affects people in all social classes, but if someone with APD is born into a family of wealth and privilege, they will usually manage to seek out a successful business or political career. They further fall into one of two types that are sociopath or psychopath. Sociopath is a person who has something wrong with his or her conscience. Sociopaths only care about fulfilling their own needs and desires. Their selfishness and egocentricity know no bounds. Everything and everybody else around them are just objects used as footholds to fulfill their own needs and desires. They often believe they are doing something good for society or at least nothing that bad. Psychologists and sociologists frequently use the term “sociopath” alike in referring to persons whose character is due primarily to parental failures (usually fatherlessness) rather than an inherent feature of temperament. Common Sociopaths are the largest subtype and have a weak or unelaborated conscience. They are not ashamed by the same things as you or I would be. Common sociopaths would be like undomesticated children growing up, taking pleasures and gratifying impulses at every opportunity or temptation. As teenagers, they are often runaways.
As adults, they are often geographically mobile, living in shelters, or taking advantage of welfare systems. They are experienced shoplifters. Nevertheless, they seem genuinely happy with their lives, unburdened by any sense of negative self-worth or the fact that they have not been a functional, contributing member of society. Alienated Sociopaths never develop the ability to love, empathizes or socialize with individuals. They will show more emotion toward their pet or a personal artifact than toward a person or they may hate animals and live out their emotional life by watching TV. They will not get along with the neighbors or colleagues. They have a cold, callous attitude toward human suffering or any social problem in the society they live in. Most of them believe their behavior is justified because they feel betrayed in one way or the other by society. Most of them will be more than happy to rant and rave about it to anyone who listens. They are chronic complainers. Aggressive Sociopaths derive strong, yet non-perverse satisfaction from traumatizing others. They like to hurt, frighten, tyrannize, bully, and manipulate, they do this for the sense of power and control.
They polish their aggressive, domineering manner in such a way to disguise any intimidation others might feel. They seek out positions of power such as bureaucrat, supervisor or police officer. Control theories take the opposite approach from other theories in criminology. Instead of asking what drives people to commit crime they ask why, do most people not commit crime? Control theorists generally argue that there is no problem explaining why people commit crime since all human beings suffer from inborn human weaknesses that make them unable to resist temptation and this theory focus on restraining or controlling factors that are broken or missing inside the personalities of criminals. Inequality & unemployment are also among factors that cause individuals to take drastic action resulting in a dire consequence, unemployment & inequality does cause crime among people. One of the things about the Pakistan economy is the constant widening of the gap between rich and poor, thus also creating a negative psychological gap among the informal & formal groups.
One of the theories that revealed a true form of our society was the Labeling theory, it dictates that labeling and reacting to offenders as “criminals” or “worthless” has unexpected negative consequences, deepening the individual behavior and making the situation worse. Labeling theorists believe that the criminal justice system is dangerous in the sense that it is “casting the net” of social control too widely. We will often observe in our surroundings that unemployed youngsters face humiliation by their parents on day-to-day basis sometimes. The process of tagging, defining, identifying, segregating, describing, and emphasizing any individual out for special treatment becomes a way of stimulating, suggesting, and evoking the very traits that are complained of. A person becomes the thing rather than a human being. Being useless or a criminal becomes a person’s status. It controls the way they identify or what they think of them self. Others do not consider their other statuses — that of spouse, parent, or worker — only that they are superficially a useless thing or a criminal. Sometimes this public scrutiny might scare or shame a person into conformity, but most likely, it has the effect of pushing the person to the point where they forfeit all further attempts at conformity.
An identity change takes place where the person’s self-concept loses any further stake in conformity, and because a deviant self-image is now in place, there is pressure to behave consistently as nonstandard. Furthermore, people who get labeled nonstandard tend to lose contact with their conformist friends and start associating with similarly labeled nonstandard deviants. There are also theories in criminology that believe that criminality is a function of individual socialization, how individuals have been influenced by their experiences or relationships with family relationships, peer groups, teachers, church, authority figures, and other agents of socialization. These are learning theories, and specifically social learning theories, because criminology never really embraced the psychological determinism inherent in most learning psychologies. There are plenty of negative test cases showing that not everyone who associates with criminals becomes a criminal. Biological conditions or Hormones also have an enormous impact on criminology. One of the first things you will notice about psychobiological criminology a branch of criminology that deals with psychological problems relating biology of human, is its inordinate concern for violent, aggressive crime. Not only are there certain organs inside the body that produce aggression, but aggressive stimuli outside the body will trigger bodily reactions producing a hefty amount of neurologically high hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine glands, the brain, gastrointestinal organs, sex organs, the kidney, the heart, the pineal gland, the skin and the hair.
They exert a strong influence on behavior, principally by inducing brain events that prompt people to behave in certain ways to environmental stimuli. Hormones not only influence reactive or conscious behavior after environmental cues, but they also influence anticipatory or unconscious behavior by knowing what the body needs beforehand, hormones make a person think they want something before they see it. Criminology has many other theories and sub branches that need to be examined thoroughly if we want to understand the increasing ratio of crime and frustration in our society, one or two pages would not even be enough to write all the names of the sixty-seven contemporary theories. Government is not doing any serious efforts to improve the current conditions of our jails or society. One would be amazed to know that the government of Pakistan does not offer any psychiatrist services to the inmates in jails. There is only one officially hired psychologist in Punjab that resides in DIG office Lahore,
I cannot understand the reason behind it but it seems that stress of work in DIG office would be more as compared to work in jails of Pakistan. Criminology is yet to given any proper status as a subject of interest in our society. Improving police and jail conditions can be temporary measures to suppress criminals but we should understand the reason that why ordinary individuals become criminals. Why does a father cut the throats of his own daughters? Why would a man molest an innocent child and cruelly incinerate the body in acid? Why would a person rape a six-year-old when he has daughters of the same age? Why would a pregnant woman be thrown in front of a pack of hungry dogs? Why does justice has to wait years, rotting in files? These “Whys” remain and will remain if we are not ready to question ourselves that how much are we a part of this “Why”. Maybe Criminology can help us in understanding the criminal concealed in us.
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I am a business man by profession and a journalist by hobby.
Reader and follower of Sufis and and great lover of them.
I am also editor in a leading news agency "Online News International" and Feature writer in Weekly magazine published in Pakistan and Newyork namely "Weekly Pulse".
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