Should the criminal be granted a conditional release based on his psychological makeup?
“Psychopathy is a socially devastating personality disorder defined by a constellation of affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics, including egocentricity, manipulativeness, deceitfulness, lack of empathy, guilt or remorse, and a propensity to violate social and legal expectations and norms”(Cleckley, 1976; Hare, 1995, 1996). It, therefore, becomes important to analyze the psychological makeup of an offender before granting him parole or furlough as the case may be. In many cases, it has been seen that the release of such an offender has led to immense bloodshed and loss for society because scientifically it has been proven that people suffering from antisocial personality disorders like psychopathy are neither curable nor sufficiently treatable. There have been many incidents, especially in India where parole has been misused. This article will shed light on the importance of psychologists in ascertaining whether a person particularly suffering from a mental illness is fit enough to be released on parole, parole as a right, its consequences, and suggested solutions.
- Understanding Psychopathy
“Psychopathy is a neuropsychiatric disorder marked by deficient emotional responses, lack of empathy, and poor behavioral controls, commonly resulting in persistent antisocial deviance and criminal behavior”.Here, it becomes important to analyze the different characteristics of psychopathy from the above definition that shape up their tendency to more likely engage in violent and aggressive criminal behavior than other known mental disorders.
- Characteristics of Psychopathy
A checklist popularly known as the “Hare Psychopathy Checklist”, developed by Robert D. Hare, specifies key symptoms of Psychopathy:
- Glib and Superficial
- Egocentric and grandiose
- Lack of remorse or guilt
- Lack of empathy
- Deceitful and manipulative
- Shallow emotions
- Poor behavior controls
- Need for excitement
- Lack of responsibility
- Early behavior problems
- Adult antisocial behavior
These different characteristics of psychopaths illustrate how they function. They are born perfect criminals. Psychopathy and sociopathy are two terms used interchangeably however the difference between the two is that the former are born the way they are while the latter is an acquired trait with bad experiences in life. Psychopaths are pathological liars and highly manipulative and often they even lie to their mental health experts. De One interesting feature about them is that they are capable of understanding the conduct of their behavior and this is the reason they can’t stand for insanity as a defense for a criminal trial. However, this mental illness is immensely damaging to society and psychopaths consume a colossal amount of criminal justice resources.
2. Recidivism among Psychopathic Criminals
Recidivism can be defined as the relapse of criminal behavior that results in the individual’s re-arrest, reconviction, and reimprisonment. It can also refer to the percentage of previous inmates who are rearrested for the same crime.”According to the National Institute of Justice, almost 44 percent of the recently released return before the end of their first year out. About 68 percent of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of their release from prison, and 77 percent were arrested within five years, and by year nine that number reaches 83 percent.”
“Approximately 93% of adult male psychopaths in the United States are in prison, jail, parole, or probation”. With such a huge percentage behind bars, “The psychopaths relapsed more frequently than the non-psychopaths into criminality after their prison term. This result confirms the previous research indicating that psychopathy is a risk factor for recidivism. It is very important that psychopaths get the best possible treatment, aftercare, and supervision”.
Therefore the chances of recidivism among psychopaths are highly probable than in any other criminal offender.
Recidivism badly impacts the community overall, with every crime, new victims are born which is heavy on the pockets of taxpayers as well .Recidivism rates around the world is high as 50% and more.
As per prison statistics India 2018, National crime bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, the highest recidivism rate is in Mizoram is 51%, Kerala at 22.4%, Delhi at 21.8%, and West Bengal at 5%.
Another study in Switzerland was conducted among psychopaths whereby 69% of those who were released committed crimes again and turned back to prison ( Hakansson & Berglund, 2012 ).
“The percentage of criminals with low, medium and high Psychopathy checklist scores who violated the condition of release was 23.5, 48.9, and 65.2, respectively”.
3. Is psychopathy curable?
Here, this question becomes important to answer to understand how psychopaths respond to the treatment and this will help in establishing the fact whether the objectives of parole or furlough in case of psychopathic criminals hold good. First, we need to understand what is parole and its objectives.
- What is Parole?
Parole is a premature conditional temporary release of a prisoner, on the condition of abiding by certain restrictions in order to obtain the privilege of returning to society and socializing with family and friends while keeping in mind correctional theory and preparing to return to social life. Hardened criminals return to civil society after evading parole and carry on with their criminal pasts. As a result, society becomes even more unbalanced, with convicted offenders wandering free, endangering society. “Parole (also known as a provisional release or supervised release) is a form of early release of a prison inmate where the prisoner agrees to abide by certain behavioral conditions, most notably checking in with their designated “parole officers”, or else be rearrested and returned to prison”.
- Objectives of Parole
As per rules 1(A) and 19 of The Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959, the objectives of Parole are as follows:
- To enable the prisoner to maintain continuity with his family life and deal with family matters.
- To save the prisoner from evil effects of continuous prison life.
- To enable the prisoner to maintain and develop his self-confidence.
- To enable the prisoner to develop constructive hope and active interest in life.
According to the research conducted by psychologists, psychopaths do not believe that anything is wrong with them because of their grandiose character, which poses a barrier to constructive therapy.. They also tend to manipulate psychologists and thus it becomes hard to treat them successfully, often they choose not to seek treatment.
We may clearly assume from all of the evidence above that convicted psychopathic offenders are extremely hazardous creatures on the planet. Even psychological professionals might be easily duped into believing that they have been healed of mental disorders. The goal of parole is to rehabilitate a criminal offender who cannot be cured and is more likely to commit crimes while on furlough or parole. Although the chances of psychopaths being reformed are minimal, it is impossible to rule out the possibility.
4 Dangers of Psychopathy
Psychopaths as sexual offenders
A psychopath’s personality is one that leads to a slew of criminal acts. Cheating, fraud, deception, misrepresentation, rapes, sexual homicide, serial murder, mass murder, sexual violence, kidnapping, and other forms of predatory criminal activity are among the most common crimes committed by psychopaths. Psychopaths are more likely than any other criminal to commit several sexual offenses. There is a link between a sexual offender and psychopathy, according to research. An offender who sexually assaults minor and adults score higher on the psychopathy checklist than child sex offenders, rapists, and nonsex offenders.
The existence of psychopathic characteristics increases the likelihood of sexual recidivism. Psychopathic characteristics, such as callousness, lack of empathy, manipulation, and so forth, likely make the commission of sexual crimes easier by treating victims and potential victims as objects for self-gratification and would, therefore, potentiate sexual recidivism.
Psychopaths as serial killers and mass murderers
There are many famous cases of serial killers around the world that tells the tale of gruesome murders reflecting evil-sadistic behavior and have been diagnosed as psychopaths like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Raider, Edmund Kemper, Charles Shobhraj, the helter-skelter case, the Hello kitty case to name a few. Therefore psychopathy plays a crucial role in understanding criminal behavior and the legal system is needed to be amended considering the proportion of serious criminal cases are committed simply by psychopaths. Terrorists can also be put into this category if their behavior is analyzed closely.
Abuse of parole in India
Despite the fact that many international organizations regard parole to be a right, it is not recognized as such in India. The Punjab & Haryana High Court recently granted parole to a murderer in Mohd. Sabir v. State of Punjab and Ors. (2021), stating that parole is a state-provided benefit that cannot be revoked on arbitrary grounds.
Parole has been emphasized as a means of reducing the bad features of incarceration, however, it does not appear to be effective, as evidenced by several well-known incidents in India:
The Jessica Lal murder case offers a realistic image of the court system, as the son of a politician was discovered enjoying himself in a nightclub while on parole.
Similarly, in the instance of Bibi Jagir Kaur, the politician was only acquitted after serving four months in prison before being granted release.
In the well-known case of Saibanna v State of Karnataka(2005), the appellant not only murdered his first wife but also murdered his second wife and child while on probation, inflicting 25+ injuries on his body.
Another murder was perpetrated by the perpetrator while he was on parole in the cases of Krishan v State of Haryana (2013) and State vs Robin @Babloo.
Dr. Jalees Ansari, dubbed “Dr. Bomb” since he was convicted in the Ajmer, Jaipur serial, and Malegaon bombing cases and suspected of preparing and carrying out more than 50 bomb blasts across the country during the early 1990s and was serving a life sentence, was granted parole by the Supreme Court. He went missing on the day he was supposed to report the next day.
A clear distinction must be made between psychopaths and non-psychopaths which will help in diminishing the crime rates and percentage of recidivism around the world. Psychologists and psychiatrists play a critical role in this process, assisting in the diagnosis of criminals and giving cognitive therapies as a treatment for psychopaths, potentially preventing them from relapsing into criminal conduct. It is critical for the world to be aware of the prevalence of psychopaths since this will promote society’s progress and understanding of people around us. This is also important in curbing the crime rates as well which will help to achieve peace and harmony in the world. Psychopaths should not be treated like other criminals and should be institutionalized; nevertheless, just because they are sane to the degree of a normal human being does not imply they should be liberated from their criminal sentences due to a plea of insanity. This is why a clear distinction between normal offenders and psychopaths is necessary. We need to examine criminals from the standpoint of mental health professionals. Punishment should be more focused on “why” a crime was committed instead of “what” crime was committed in order to understand each case differently. It is vital to punish deterrents by weighing the circumstances of their mental health because serious crimes like murder and rape are committed by psychopaths as they find enjoyment in sadistic pleasure by killing others, which is not normal. This has been especially seen in the cases of serial killers and rapists because they love to torture their victims and get a sense of power or dominance. Not all, but the majority of psychopaths are sick people who should be discouraged and treated by specialists rather than being released on parole or furlough, as the main purpose of parole is to enable convicted criminals to reintegrate into society, which falls on a vast scale, it is hard for them to be rehabilitated. To ensure that society does not suffer the burden of a mentally disordered individual in the most awful fashion, harsher regulations and procedures should be enacted against major psychopathic criminals, and the possibilities of their conditional release should be minimal.
- Psychopathy: Developmental Perspectives and their Implications for Treatment,United States available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4321752/(last visited on January 22, 2022).
- Robert.D.Hare,without conscience The Disturbing World of The Psychopaths Among Us 34(The Guilford Press,New York,1st edn.,1999)
- Recidivism,available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recidivism (last visited on Janaury 29, 2022)
- Jenny Laurell, Anna M Daederman, “Recidivism is related to psychopathy (PCL-R) in a group of men convicted of homicide” 28 International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 255-268 (2005)
- Government of India National Crime Records Bureau,”Report on Prison Statitics India 2018”((Ministry of Home Affairs 2018)
- S D Hart; P R Kropp; R D Hare,”Performance of Male Psychopaths Following Conditional Release From Prison”56 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 227-232 (1988)
- Parole,available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parole(last visited on Janaury 29, 2022)
- Allison R. Brown, “Elevated Psychopathy Scores Among Mixed Sexual Offenders: Replication and Extension” 42 Sage Journal ,70(2015)
- (2010) 6 SCC 1; (2010) 2 SCC (cri) 1385
- CRA-D-867-DB of 2012
- Appeal (crl.) 656 of 2004
- CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 766 OF 2008
- Crl. M.C. No.2466/2015
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