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Predicting the Criminal Mind

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Over the years there has been an abnormal increase in the percentage of violent crimes. This has led to heighted interest in criminal profiling. Criminal profiling as a law enforcement tool emerged in the late 1960s. The leading organization engaged in profiling is the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  What does criminal profiling actually mean and is it really possible to predict criminal behavior?

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Research suggests that the genetic aspects of aggression and criminal behavior are multifactorial. Developing descriptions of the traits and characteristics of possible offenders is called “profiling”. It is often used in situations for which authorities have no likely suspect. There are two basic varieties of profiling: inductive profiling, which involves the development of a profile based on known psychological typology, and deductive profiling, which reasons exclusively from the details of the victim (a practice called victimology) and crime scene to develop an unique profile of the unknown offender. Deductive profiling involves a process that avoids generalizations and averages. Not only is it based on pieces of evidence discovered at the crime scene, but it also takes into consideration the victim’s background. (U.S. Federal Government)

A deductive profile is set up based on the offender's actions before, during and after committing the crime. For example, if the murderer used a makeshift eapon, investigators are then able to deduce that the crime was probably spontaneous. (U.S. Federal Government) Another example involves serial murderers. Investigators are able to find out whether the murder was organized, which means that the killer carried out a planned, premeditated attack on a victim, or if the attack was disorganized, meaning that the murder was unplanned and the killer behaved in an spontaneous way.  What researchers and enforcement agencies have been working for many years is trying to predict and prevent the individuals from becoming criminals.

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This is where to possibility of Neuroscience might play a role. Neuroscience is the study of brain development and functioning, from cellular and molecular neurobiology to systems of sensation, perception and memory, and including various diseases and disorders of the brain and nervous system. In many ways, the study of neuroscience involves research into the nature of consciousness. (Fontaine, 2011) "Current neuroscience developments hold great promise for improving our understanding of disease and behavior and eventually reducing human suffering," writes Mark S. Frankel, director of AAAS's Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program. One thing that keeps the research going is the idea of being able to predict in young children that one abnormality that could lead that child to later to trouble. Once found these children could begin treatment to correct and hopefully prevent criminal behavior later.

Researchers have been experimennting and theorizing for decades in an attempt to get to the bottom of criminal behavior. Looking for signs, body language signals and even listening for voice changes have all been identified as signs of possible illegal intentions. “Crime signals are perceptible signs disclosing that someone has broken, or is about to break, the law.” (David Givens, 2008, p. 29) These signals can be shown in handwriting analysis, as Brad Steiger and William Howard have shown in there book “Handwriting Analysis”. He explains that handwriting is the movement or action of the hand but first begins in the mind, with the thought. As this thought becomes and idea and then a desire to express that idea this is where the individual traits come out. (Howard, 1970, p. 57) Perhaps by using this along with Neuroscience we could predict early signs of later criminal behavior in adolescence. 

Jung stated, “Every concept in our conscious mind has its own psychic associations.” (Jung, 1964, p. 4) Along with the psychology of such renowned psychologist such as Freud the criminal justice system can benefit by creating programs that can predict such criminal behavior before the innocent become victims. (Hall, 1954)  Courts already use predictive studies in plea bargaining and sentencing.  They must determine future risks.  Enabling new technology to aid in predicting criminal behavior and the causes that lead up to it, our Justice System can better protect the citizens and gain knowledge about specific human behavior.

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