Know Any Hard-Core Criminals?

When we have discussions around here about what to do with criminals (like this one, on pedophilia), I always wonder on what basis we’re supposing how felons will react to various punishments (absent cites, of course)

When a person has committed a thoroughly heinous act, like the abduction-rape-murder of a small child, it seems to me that they are not a human being in the same sense that the rest of us are human. Not that we don’t all have the potential for evil, because of course we do; but that doing something that awful requires crossing a line that has to render a person qualitatively different. So that I can’t personally imagine how to punish them for said act. Because my opinions on how to treat humans presumes some humanity, which automatically creates empathy on my part. When we speak of abstractions, voting against the death penalty as a matter of principle, I think we project ourselves into the role of the guilty. I can’t imagine how someone would have any sympathy for them otherwise.

But I don’t personally know any hard-core criminals, at least not to my knowledge. I know people who’ve done stupid things, who’ve been greedy and mean and dishonest. I have done those things, too. But I don’t think I’ve ever conversed at any length with someone who crossed the line into true evil.

Have you? Did you think they were different from the rest of us?

I know thousands. And yes, like the rich, criminals are different from you and me.

A common trait I have repeatedly noted among criminals is their complete lack of empathy - to them everything is about self-interest. Every action is based on the consideration “Does this benefit me and if not why do it?” Which is actually an exaggeration - many of them would simply ask themselves “Does this benefit me?” and not even recognize the possibility of there being any other reason why somebody might do something.

A stereotypical criminal might be walking out of an apartment building in the middle of the night and see a fire had started. And he would walk right by a fire alarm without pulling it. As far as he’s concerned, he was leaving the building anyway so the fire has no effect. The fact that by not bothering to pull the alarm he’s allowing dozens of other people in the building to die would never occur to him. Unless he suddenly remembered that he had loaned a DVD to a guy on the fifth floor - then he’d pull the alarm to prevent his DVD from getting burned.

Hmm have any later developed empathy LN? I assume you are involved in the criminal justice
system in some way. I can’t imagine living without my empathy because it a major part of
whom I am (teacher and part time animal lover/enviro). You’d probably be better off discussing
the qualities of the Sludge Beings of Karres V, because these people you describe might as
well come from another planet (as seen from my perspective)…


Okay… Well we appreciate the encouragement.

I grew up with a boy who was sentenced to life in prison without possibility for parole for murdering a client of his. When his defense team asked if I’d be a character witness, I told them I’d likely do much more harm than good.
We’d been best friends from age 4 to 16 and as much as I loved him, I knew how arrogant he was. Rules never applied to him—we used to drive around in his Buick Regal when we were 13—don’t you hate the bus? We were smarter than anybody else in our tiny hometown and big fish in a little bitty pond and very young. He badly scared me with his new-found drug use when we were 16 and he got involved with scary people and it pissed me off that he could barely see me and talked to me like I was trying to ruin his fun and he stopped hopping my back fence and I’d run into him every couple of years and when we were 24 they arrested him for kidnapping and murdering a woman he worked for.
She had something he wanted–money. Who was she anyway–not family, not anyone he knew.

For the most part, criminals are lazy and greedy.

Most are far too lazy to study, which is why so many get caught for really stupid crimes, and as for the serious offenders, for the most part, they do have something about them, some are maybe a bit clingy, others just seem very false.

The false ones seem to lack empathy so much, that most of the time they are acting, they know that asking for something in a particualr way yields better results, however there is no sense of gratitude ever from them, its like they played the role and they should automatically get whatever is on offer.

Example, most prisons run life change types of courses, to address things such as inferiority complexes by assertiveness training, enhanced thinking skills, alchohol awareness and a host of others.

When they come into prison they are assigned a number of these courses to address the behaviour that led them into crime and it is understood that if they have not changed as individuals by the time their parole shout comes around, they will not get early release.

They do these courses, but only by going through the motions, and having done the course, the usually expect as a matter of right to get that parole, and become upset when informed that they have not changed as people at all and so parole will not be forthcoming.

The simply cannot get this into their heads, everything in life is a transaction to them, nothing is done for love, or plain politeness, there has to be some form of payback.

In the UK it is recognised that 80% of prisoners have two or more personality disorders, the average reading age is less than 10 years old, the average maths skills less than 7 years old.

Now think of your own children at such ages, they have not developed all the social skills to understand human world around them, and if left to their own devices and unguided, they can become selfish. Prisoners choose not to develop those social skills, as it asks too many questions of them, they worry it might be seen as being weak and of compliance, there is a lot of peer pressure in prison, mostly done by the prisoner on himself.

Prisoners are the extreme example, murderers often put the blame for their crime on the victim, and most of the rest simply view society as a resource from which to help themselves, they just do not care to understand what it feels like for someone to have their home invaded in a burglary, and ultimately the worst of them view other people as a resource for their own use in any fashion that they see fit.

Prisoners are always very concerned that their ‘human rights’ in prison are not violated, frankly I’d be happy to burn them, very slowly, and I’d pour the paraffin and light the match, after all, I have been in incidents when the bastards tried to set fire to areas where I was working and they expect me to rescue them.

I went to school with a guy who ended up stabbing his girlfriend to death in their driveway.

I’ve known a few. One comes to mind, a Hell’s Angel who went by, if you can believe it, Spike. I rented an apartment in a not so nice neighborhood in college and he was one of the many guys who hanged out in the area. One night he knocked on our door and asked to borrow a screwdriver. Later that night he tried to steal my next door neighbor’s motorcycle with that screwdriver. A few weeks later he went to prison for good for murder (not with the screwdriver.) The guy was just off. He didn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. He just lived for the moment and took what he wanted when he wanted it.

I had an uncle who did time for murder. I was a kid when it happened, he served his time and came out a model citizen. Nary a peep out of him in the way of criminal activity up until he died of a heart attack a few years ago. He was a good man who made a mistake.

My stepdad’s brother is currently serving life for murder, but I don’t know the circumstances of his case.

I know (knew) several of the hard drug user/petty thief/armed robbery type and one in jail for a brutal multiple homicide.

I agree that the distinguishing factors are a lack of empathy for others and an inability (or unwillingness) to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. Much like a child, they don’t consider or care that their actions might inconvenience, hurt or even end the lives of other people. They often don’t even seem to consider or care if they themselves run a real risk of inconvenience, pain or death. It’s all about living in the moment.

Carpe diem might seem like a good philosophy, but these folks take it way too far.

It’s interesting…I wonder how much of criminal behavoir might have to do with things like ADD or maybe extreme self centeredness…narcissim I think you’d call it?

A former co-worker of mine has been convicted of two murders and is suspected in at least two others, so he might be a serial killer. I ate lunch wih him pretty often. .

I grew up in a poor, rural area and I knew a bunch of them. I agree that some of them are a different breed and I don’t buy many of the more liberal ideas regarding criminals.

The one that I was closest too was on of my very best friends when I was young. His name is Chris Timon and we used to watch the Dukes of Hazard on Friday nights often kissing the TV when Daisy came on. He moved away when I was a little older and became what many believe to be a serial killer just after high school. It is undisputed that he stalked a big winner at a casino home one night (the guy stupidly took his some thousands of dollars in cash) and ritually executed him by shooting him in the head while he was on his knees begging for his life. He was up for the death penalty but got life without parole in Angola instead largely because his father and other family put on a huge show trying to create an alibi that created just a tiny sliver of doubt. I wanted him to get the death penalty to tell you the truth but my mother was always firmly against it and still writes to him sometimes.

I know several other murderers as well and examples of just about everything else. I also know some of their victims including a murder victim who was a very old, sweet as can be, black woman that I loved very much. I don’t have any sympathy for those types of criminals. I was the “victim” of an attempted armed robbery myself from some extremely hardened and dangerous ones. They went back to prison where they will always belong.

Us folks with ADD make poor criminals. We just can’t sit still and focus on the planning. We want to jump right to the exciting execution of the crime.

Sociopathy has been linked to crime and is what many people are describing-lack of empathy, etc.

I knew one. He was a Cambodian guy who was very senior in one of the Asian gangs in Sydney. By senior, I mean he was only in his early twenties, but most of his colleagues had either been shot or had gone straight by that age. He was addicted to the lifestyle, and was always inviting me to lavish parties in some penthouse or other, complete with the world’s most beautiful women and big bowls of cocaine. I never went.

The thing is, he was a really nice and personable guy to talk to. Not in a smooth confidence trickster kind of way, but in a genuine way. It was like he had two personalities. He’d do anything for anybody without them “owing him a favour”. Helping little old ladies across the street, anything. You name it.

So I asked him about gang life. In fact another part of his personality was that although he was a “gangsta”, he had the utmost respect for me, simply because I was fifteen years older - quite a nice, old-fashioned attitude. So I asked him about the gang, and lectured him mercilessly along the “you’re too old for this shit. Get out now” line, and he’d always hang his head and say, “Yeah I know, but I’m addicted to the lifestyle.” So I’d ask him about how he could shoot people one day and come and help a stranger carry a heavy package up a flight of stairs the next. “I only get violent with other gangs. It’s different to normal people.” And that’s how he justified it.

He was implicated in a shooting several years ago, and the gang paid for one of the country’s most famous lawyers, and he got off with a scolding by the judge. Then the silly bastard did it again, and went to prison. I think he might be out now, but I’ve lost contact with him.

I actually miss him. He was a gentleman. He just liked shooting people is all…

How do you know so many criminals, Little Nemo? Legal work?

Yes, I do. This guy:

He’s been arrested four times since January of this year. Needless to say, I knew there was a reason why I never really liked him.

I used to be a cop. I know a bunch of criminals.

They’re all assholes.

That’s why I could never be a cop. Civilians deal with the public as they come, so you get your share of good people and your share of scum. Cops get an artificially inflated number of scum as they go about their daily duties, and it’s easy to just assume every member of the general public is a scumbag. I’ve seen many fine cops who somehow manage to remain optimistic and don’t think that way, but I’ve seen other career cops who have become bitter towards the human race. I don’t trust myself to stay out of the second group, and that’s why I couldn’t be a cop.

I wonder is it truly the case that every sociopath has no empathy? Or at least in some cases is it they just choose to ignore it? My uncle killed a man albeit in self defense but served a year for having an unregistered firearm and violating parole. It seems he was destined to be a criminal because all the signs were there from an early age. When his mother was on her deathbed he made a comment something to the effect that if she couldn’t make her own son something to eat she deserved to die.