Clinical criminology: what is it and what are its functions and methods?
A summary of the characteristics of clinical criminology and its areas of intervention.
The purpose of custodial sentences, at least in countries where human rights are respected, is to ensure that the individual who has committed a crime learns from it, learns not to do it again, and is released from prison to reintegrate into society.
However, although the commission of a crime may have many causes behind it, sometimes behind it there is a mental health problem, a dysfunctional personality pattern and antisocial behavior that, if not treated, will prevent the proper reintegration of the individual to the social nucleus.
The objective of clinical criminology is to establish the criminological diagnosis that explains the antisocial behavior of an offender.The aim is to be able to develop a treatment that will help them adapt to society once they have served their sentence. Let's go deeper into this branch of criminology.
Clinical criminology is the branch of general criminology that aims to study people who have committed a crime in order to establish a diagnosis of their behavior, make a prognosis of how it will evolve in the short and long term and develop a treatment to ensure that the person does not commit the same crime again. This discipline is based on the clinical and individual study of the offender, understanding that every criminal act is an abnormal behavior, possibly the result of a conflictive personality or a specific problem of violence.
The main purpose of custodial sentences, i.e. prison sentences, is reintegration. This type of punishment is applied with the aim of ensuring that the subject who has committed a crime learns from his actions and does not commit them again once he is free, in the hope that he will behave in a socially appropriate manner. This objective is not possible if the pathology of the offender is not taken into account, if any, since it will require specific treatment, which is the usefulness of clinical criminology in the criminal field.
Among the referents within the field of clinical criminology we can find figures such as César Lombroso, Rafael Garólofo and Enrico Ferri and within this field the intention is to undertake the task of diagnosing and treating people who have committed a crime in order to apply the necessary criminal prophylaxis measures to prevent them from committing it again. In the words of Benigno Di Tullio, the treatment of persons who have committed crimes focuses on physical-psychosomatic, social, ethical, educational and moral rehabilitation..
Methodology of clinical criminology
Within the methodology of clinical criminology the following points can be highlighted:
- Direct understanding with the offender
- Medical examination
- Psychological examination, focusing on the personality of the individual.
- Social survey about the environment in which the individual developed.
The clinical method applied in criminology involves multiple scientific disciplines, so it can be stated that this branch of criminological science is pluridisciplinary.. The clinical work approached at the scene of the crime, the commission of the act and the individual who has performed it is a scientific investigation involving biology, neurology, psychiatry and general medicine.
All the data obtained from these branches are applied to the explanation of the possible causes behind the commission of the crime or the criminality of the individual, aiming to obtain data and reports related to the organic functioning, neurological, physiological, endocrinological, somatic and mental state applied to the criminological investigation. This same information is the one that can reveal to us what anomalous or pathogenic causes have predisposed the individual to present the antisocial personality and behavior that he/she has shown. that he/she has shown.
The clinical criminological diagnosis is carried out in order to determine the degree of dangerousness of the offender. At this point of the evaluation, 4 important phases in the commission of the criminal act are taken into account.
- Mitigating consent: conceives and does not reject the possibility of the offender's crime.
- Formulated consent: where the person decides to commit the crime.
- State of danger
- Passage to the act: the commission of the crime.
Each individual is a different entity, i.e., a person with his biological, psychological and social individualityand therefore the motives that have pushed someone to commit a crime are very varied. That is why it is necessary to know the subject as deeply as possible, study him and approach him taking into account his family, personal and social history, data that will facilitate the criminological diagnosis in case there is a disorder or pathological behavioral pattern, determine the criminological personality profile and the genesis of the crime.
Even so, it is worth mentioning that even if the personal and family background of an individual is known prior to the commission of the crime and the personality type is determined, it does not offer a solution to the problem, but it does provide data on how to proceed from this point, contributing to the development of a treatment reintegration plan..
Criminological treatment is the set of elements, norms and techniques that are applied to restructure the personality and behavior of a person, in order to make him/her a functional individual for society, that is, to fully reintegrate and not commit any type of crime again. Thus, criminological treatment can be defined as the means to prevent the individual from reoffending..
The treatment to be applied will vary greatly depending on the type of crime, the personality type of the individual who committed the crime and, fundamentally, the diagnosis. The treatment must conform to the pre-established by law, not violate fundamental rights and must be subject to criminological research, in order to prevent the crime and also avoid the excessive extension of the treatment.
Clinical criminology does not ignore the effect that the family can have on the individual and its relationship in the commission of crime, since the family is the primary and fundamental cell in society. the family is the primary and fundamental cell in society.. Its influence is very powerful in most people, to such an extent that it can be responsible for the erratic behavior of those who have committed a crime, especially if there are dysfunctional dynamics in the family nucleus.
There are many ways in which the family influences us, even as adults. The influence of intimate characteristics in the dynamics of the family group, the personality of the parents, the relationships with relatives, the criminal history of a close member and several other aspects deeply mark the formation of the human being, influencing the individual a lot. All this can result in a person who commits crimes, if the appropriate conditions for the development of a pathological and dysfunctional personality are present.
For all these reasons, if the necessary tools are available and the family of the person involved is interested in collaborating, we should also proceed to intervene in the family, modifying the pathological dynamics that may exist there and improving the functionality of both the individual once he/she has served the sentence and the other members of the family. improving the functionality of both the individual once the sentence has been served and the rest of the members of the family nucleus.. Intervening in the family can not only prevent the person who has committed the crime from doing it again, but also prevent a relative from also committing a criminal act.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)