Understanding the Criminal


Why should we understand the Criminal?



The call to understand the criminal is a compelling imperative that demands our most unwavering attention. We can no longer dismiss the criminal as a mere sporadic inconvenience; a simple social misfit for whom civil society has long prescribed penal sanctions. No longer can mainstream, law-respecting citizens and their families see the criminal world as the ‘other side,’ far beyond their own personal space, and posing no imminent threat to their lifestyle. Technology and the inexorable cross-currents of globalization have contracted the world, unceremoniously placing us in a common village, outside of the comfort of our former socially pristine vicinity, rendering us equally vulnerable to the criminal’s ruthless grasp. Why preoccupy ourselves with criminals after they have been caught and sent to prison? After all, when an offender is convicted and imprisoned, justice is done, the victim is avenged, and society’s laws are vindicated and upheld. It’s time to move on with our lives, right? Wrong, for although we know why we sent the offender to prison, we are quite oblivious of the effect of the prison on him after he has been duly punished and have participated in every rehabilitation activity. Our dilemma is this: the criminal has been relived, arrested, convicted, punished and misunderstood.

But why should we bother ourselves in trying to understand the criminal? Aren’t there sufficient legal provisions for those that flout society’s laws, and since those laws are designed to protect society, shouldn’t we allow the prescribed sanctions for their infringements to be administered accordingly? Don’t we all feel safer when the ruthless criminal is removed from our streets and places securely behind prison walls? Aren’t we morally obligated to protect our children from illicit drug suppliers and addicts? “Understanding the Criminal” allows the criminal the belated, perhaps undeserved, privilege to talk to us, to register his many complaints, to nostalgically share his long forsaken dreams, and to enumerate his needs, hopes and shortcomings. In this book the criminal is given an unfettered forum and an amplified voice to reason with us, to present the preliminary arguments of his case to us- a jury of his peers. Alarmingly, the “trail” at times will uncover evidence proving that we ourselves were unwitting accomplices in his crimes.

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