What is Criminal Psychology?
Before we go on to determine What is Criminal Psychology, let us first define, what exactly is a Crime?
In general terms, crimes are acts that break the law of a particular country. The Oxford English Dictionary defines crime as:
“An act punishable by law, as being forbidden by statute or injurious to the public welfare. An evil or injurious act, an offense, sin, especially of a grave character.”
We must say, though, that this is a simplified view of a crime. There is no such thing as a simple and objective definition of a crime. Crimes are defined by societies, culture and the time that we live in. Therefore, we can say that the meaning of a crime is actually a social construction. Therefore, there a “grey areas” in defining of what the crime is.
For example, these acts may be considered a crime in some societies, but just immoral or antisocial in others:
• Drinking alcohol
• Taking drugs
• Killing in self-defense
• Killing during a war
• Failing to join the army (in a war time)
So we have discussed crime, let us now define the term of Criminal Psychology.
Criminal psychology is a discipline that merges psychology and criminal justice. Criminal psychology is an important part of the justice system. The study of criminal psychology goes deeply into what makes someone commit a crime, but also the reactions after the crime, on the run and in court. Criminal psychologists are often called up as witnesses in court to help the jury understand the mind of the criminal. Criminal psychologists work closely with attorneys, courts, law enforcement agencies, and various other parties involved in civil and criminal cases. It is a relatively young field of work, gaining recognition from the American Psychological Association in 2001.
And what is a criminal psychologist?
A criminal psychologist is a specialist who deals with the psychological aspects of the legal process. With the background in criminology and psychology, these psychologists are experts in mental states and behavior of criminals. Criminal psychologists work with potential suspects or proven criminals in order to investigate their mental state.
The goals of criminal psychologist include:
• Understanding the psychological problems associated with criminal behavior
• Treatment of criminals
• Applying theory to criminal investigations.
Criminal psychologists will cover a range of roles, such as:
• Research evidence to support practice
• Appear in court as an expert witness
• Crime analysis
• Implementing treatment programs
• Modifying offender behavior
• Advising parole boards
• Responding to changing needs of prisoners and staff
• Stress management techniques for staff and prisoners
• Statistical analysis used for prisoner profiling
• Use psychological testing to assess offenders
• Provide psychological reports to the defense/prosecution
• Mental health tribunals.
In this article, we tried to answer the question “What is Criminal Psychology”. To define Criminal Psychology, we first needed to define the underlying term of a crime.