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Usually, it is more likely that the ruse is discovered by a forensic psychologist, and/or that there is simply too much evidence pointing to the fact that the criminal knew what he or she was doing when the crime was being committed (Adler, 2004).
The Likelihood of Reoffending
Whether a criminal is likely to reoffend is something else that has to be considered by forensic psychologists. They are often asked to give their opinion on this issue when inmates are coming up for early release or when they are eligible for parole. There are other factors and opinions that are taken into account, of course, but having a professional, psychological opinion about whether a criminal has been "cured" of his or her behavior or will be likely to repeat it is very significant (Adler, 2004; Dalby, 1997). It can be difficult to determine what goes on in the mind of a criminal who is about to be released or who has a chance of parole. Very often, however, these criminals are on their best behavior so that they can get out of prison. They go before the parole board and they know what they should and should not say when they are asked if they feel they have been rehabilitated. That is why getting other opinions is so important, because a criminal is not going to admit that he or she is not rehabilitated and should stay in prison (Adler, 2004).
It would simply not be logical for that to take place, and would be extremely unlikely. However, any criminal who is evaluated by a forensic psychologist or other professional will provide clues and other important information as to whether he or she really is remorseful and really has been rehabilitated, or whether that is just something being said in an effort to be released back into society. Not all criminals are trying to fake their way through their feelings on their parole hearing interview in order to be released, but there is a large enough number of them for forensic psychology to have a hand in recommendations when it comes to who should be released and who should not be released (Dalby, 1997). Even criminals who seem to be rehabilitated can reoffend, though, so there is no guarantee that this will not take place. There is always the chance that something will be misinterpreted, or that the world outside will simply become too overwhelming, and some criminals want to reoffend and go back to prison because it is all they know.
When a forensic psychologist considers the likelihood of someone reoffending, he or she must consider not only the criminal's "track record" in prison, but also how long that criminal has been imprisoned and the nature of his or her crime. When a person has been locked up in prison for a very long period of time, it can be more difficult for that person to readjust to "normal" life on the outside. It can also be very hard for prisoners to get jobs or handle other parts of daily life that many people simply take for granted (Adler, 2004). Since that is the case, the likelihood of reoffending is always there. The criminals who have been in prison for years are familiar with the system. They may even feel "safe" there, even though prison is dangerous, because they understand how it works. Taking that culture away from them and forcing them to interact in the "real world" can be complicated and should only be done with prisoners who a forensic psychologist believes will adjust and who have a low chance of reoffending - especially for violent crimes.
There are no guarantees as to who will reoffend and who will not, but there are things to look for that are carefully considered by those who work with criminals and who determine whether parole should be granted (Duntley & Shackelford, 2006). Specific behaviors can be very telling. Criminals who are model prisoners and who appear genuinely remorseful, as well as those who are focused on bettering themselves, can often be released when they are eligible for parole, mostly because they understand the nature of their crime and the consequences, and they have shown a desire to avoid criminal behavior in the future and educate themselves so that they are able to be productive members of society.
As can be seen by the information presented here, there are many reasons why people commit crimes and there are many different types of people who engage in criminal activity. Yes, they are all criminals, but what else are they? When that question is answered, it is easy to see that the psychology of the criminal mind is much more than just labeling a person a criminal or assuming that someone will engage in criminal behavior because he or she fits a particular race or other demographic characteristic or profile. Understanding criminal behavior and the inner workings of the criminal mind is a complex and difficult task. There are certainly people who commit crimes for what would be deemed logical reasons, such as hunger, anger, etc., but there are many people who commit crimes that do not seem to fit any logic or pattern - and it is those criminals who need to be better understood.
Adler, J.R. (Ed.). (2004). Forensic Psychology: Concepts, debates and practice. Cullompton: Willan.
Dalby, J.T. (1997) Applications of Psychology in the Law Practice: A guide to relevant issues,…[continue]
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