Jul 21, 2013 News
Book: Understanding the criminal: Exploring the Nature and Consequences of Imprisonment
Reviewer: Dr Glenville Ashby
Adam John McIntyre embarks on an interesting study as he searches for the elusive elixir that promises social stability and justice. McIntyre’s ideas, though probing our conscience and inviting dialogue, are hardly original. Yet, in cutting to the chase, his exhortations on crime, the criminal, and society, touch a nerve, sounding a salvo for an emotionally charged enquiry.
McIntyre’s background, credentials and experience lend an unmistakable seal to this undertaking. He is impressive, no doubt. A stellar career as an educator in Jamaica, a corrections officer and an innovator in the Cayman Islands’ penal system, do not fully cover the enormity of the resources he now offers. He later emerges as a maverick, of sorts, after being derailed – ending up on the receiving end of the legal system – only to be exonerated. But is his work definitive? Can anyone truly understand the dynamics of the criminal mind? McIntyre, in viewing the problem through various prisms comes close, but not close enough.
To decode a problem that has beset man from the earliest days of his creation is a tall order, one that dwarfs thinkers whose solutions are based on social and material dialectics. McIntyre is right in saying that despite soaring accomplishments in science, medicine and the arts, humankind is still socially hamstrung, internecine and and victims of their own lust for violence and retribution.
He is right, again, when he states that prison, ”by its very nature, is inhospitable to the acquisition of positive values.”
And for all his perspicacity, there is that detectable strain of paradox in his work. He writes, “….we cannot afford to get it wrong this time, for it is by understanding the criminal that we will enhance our chances of co-existing with him, of sharing his world, for, as we now know, the criminal is here to stay.”
The corollary to such an assertion raises an emotive debate. Should society seek some common ground, some tolerable coexistence with criminals? Is it at all possible?
McIntyre courageously hoists substantive blame on society – individuals and the institutions that spawn social rejects… It is a sensitive argument, albeit, unquestionable to a degree. ”Aren’t our teachers, pastors and counselors often guilty of theft and abuse of office for stealing the hopes and dreams of countless children by their failure to provide the youth with the skills that they need to cope in a changing world?”
His argument that faith-based programmes in prisons are therapeutic and useful in the rehabilitation process is measured, impartial and a strong response to detractors.
His views on parenting and the onslaught of technology and secularism on traditional values are well articulated. He posits that parents must adapt to changing scenarios. And his counsel couldn’t be more crucial. He writes: ”A deliberate and intensive effort to teach our youth to manage adversity…needs to be given urgent priority.”
That children create the setting where parents can learn invaluable lessons to cope with life, and, in turn render good counsel to their children is indisputable. “Parents should switch to the learning mode and pay attention to what their children are trying to teach them,” he demands.
In viewing the society as the fons et origio of crime (not the individual), McIntyre must see some hope in restructuring our institutions. But his own words on the ubiquity of the criminal mind could well bury his ambitions.
Understanding the Criminal is insightful, analytical, offering panoramic view of prison life; the conflicting interests between the custodial and therapeutic staff; the prisoners’ distrust; the primal fear and survival; the dehumanisation; the erosion of self worth, and the formation of new identities that wage war against a society that in effect has created them.
We also learn that correction officer teeters on the brink of disillusion, a victim of an onerous, ingratuitous profession.
McIntyre, at times verbose, is a worthy writer – thoughtful, detailed, and deliberate with an enviable ability to “metaphorise” situations for added effect. And there are more than flashes of academic brilliance. Unfortunately, they can be shrouded by his overreaching sensibilities.
As McIntyre flirts with the neuropsychological, the psychiatric and physiological dimensions of the criminal mind, the reader begins to fathom the complexity of such a daunting undertaking work, begging the question, “Is human behaviour really predictable, or, even measurable?
That said, the value, the “werthurtheil” of McIntyre’s work will be judged by the results of its application. Will society embrace the author’s call for introspection, for change, for a drastic overhaul of how its culture? In detailing the hubris and untamed violence of our forebearers I believe that McIntyre has already answered that question.
Understanding the Criminal by Adam John McIntyre
Selecto Publications, 2012
Guyanese you are being prostituted by your politicians!
Dec 01, 2022– Smith, Newton shatter 100m record By Rawle Toney Kaieteur News – Blessed with perfect weather for track and field, athletes soaked up the sun’s energy and produced record-shattering...
Dec 01, 2022
Dec 01, 2022
Nov 30, 2022
Nov 30, 2022
Nov 30, 2022
Kaieteur News – I lost all respect for Eusi Kwayana after two replies to me in the letter pages of this newspaper in... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]