Concept of the Month -- May 2004

Typing Offenders by the Crime for Which They Are Arrested -- Concealing More than Revealed?

When a man is arrested and convicted of rape, he is known as a rapist and a sex offender. When an individual is convicted of distribution of narcotics, he is known as a drug dealer. However, what a person is arrested for constitutes, in more cases than not, the tip of the iceberg. In 34 years, every rapist whom I have interviewed has committed other types of crimes -- e.g., nonsexual assaults, theft. Even typing a person as a "white collar" offender may not be accurate. I have interviewed white-collar individuals who have committed acts of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse.

It is true that offenders have tastes and preferences in crime. The white-collar offender looks down on the violent street criminal as crude and as sharing nothing in common with him. The guy who resorts to muscle may look down on someone not so inclined
as "sissy," "lame," or "weak."

The important issue in terms of understanding the mental makeup of offenders is not so much the crime that they are known for, but the thinking processes that they share in common, no matter what criminal act they engage in.

Power and control, shutting off deterrents from conscious thought, the view of the self as unique, the lack of a concept of injury to others -- these and many other patterns are shared by offenders who appear to share very little in common.

The crime for which the person is arrested is the tip of an iceberg of irresponsibility and criminality that most likely has not yet come to light.

Stanton E. Samenow

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