Book Review: Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.

Inside the Criminal Mind explores what makes a criminal tick. This revised edition has added some newer crimes such as the Boston Bomber, Sandy Hook, and The Aurora Theater Shooting, but from what I understand is not much different than the original version of the book. 

Samenow believes that criminals become criminals because of their background. He believes that such factors as family life, the economy, government, poverty, ethnic background and opportunity are to blame for the actions of the criminal. I'm not entirely sure I believe this, but he does state that no one, not even the criminals themselves really know WHY they do the actions they do. 

The author also believes that there is no "cure" for criminals and that rehabilitation is seen as more of a scapegoat then anything. A means to "get out of jail free" so to speak. When faced with the possibility of going to jail or going to rehab, a criminal will more often than not choose rehab and they know that is generally an option made available to them. Believe it or not, criminals do weigh the pros and cons of their actions, the risk and the gain. They are 100% aware of everything they do and they know right from wrong. If the gains out weight the risks, nothing will stop them. Nothing will change a criminal unless of course there is no other option. The solution to the problem is not rehabilitation in his opinion, but habilitation. Rehabilitation is used with the idea that a good person with proper morals and compassion was there to begin with and that the criminal just needs to find his way back to this thinking. Kind of like they ha lost their path and needs help to get back on it. So he suggests, instead, a "habilitation" which is that the criminal never had these positive thought processes to begin with and should be taught to establish a new personality and good character traits. 

This part of the book kind of disgusted me in the sense that he seems to have the same mind set as those who believe "gay" can be cured with proper "habilitation" as he calls it and be taught to completely change themselves and every thing they are. 

My personal experience is that the author is correct, however, on the "once a criminal, always a criminal" mindset. This is so often why many criminals in our justice system have a long list of prior convictions. It becomes a lifestyle for them and for most, it eventually becomes a means to survive. A lot of them are locked up for so long that they lose everything and once they get out, it becomes impossible to live a normal life so they turn back to a life of crime because it's the only thing they know. 

This book is widely controversial for the authors views, much like the debate on capital punishment and our justice system as a whole. 

It's an interesting read and for those who work in the justice system or in the mental health field, most find it a rather accurate study based on personal experiences with criminals and their crimes.

*Disclaimer: I received this to review from Blogging For Books. All thoughts on this are 100% my own.*


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