The Field of the Psychology of Criminal Law

The Field of the Psychology of Criminal Law

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The lawyers resistance is the resistance of society. It mus be overcome; the criminologist must be won over to co-operation with the psychologist, in the same way as the educationalis. Without their assistance severe handicaps to the work of psychology in relation to criminal law cannot be surmounted. Only the judge can grant to the psycho-analyst admission to the primary object of his investigation : the criminal. Cases arise in practice which are available to the analyst for this investigation of neuroses- but the criminal is not present at his conference or at least is only seldom present. His inclusion in the proceedings is something quite uncommon; the Court authorities are not very favourably inclined towards the analyst. As a result, only the defending counsel generally remains to call in the analyst as a specialist and to give him access to the asocial person, but even that is exceptional.

A change would be effected if the recomendation in the Report of the Departmental Committee on Persistent Offenders, to appoint psychologists (psycho-analysts or perhaps psychiantrists are probably what was meant) as prison doctors, should be given consideration and more general acceptance. This Report states:

"We believe, however, that a certain amount of persistent crime is due to abnormal mental factors; that the usual punitive and reformative methods often fail in the cases which are outside the purview of the Lunacy and Mental Deficiency Acts; taht there is reason to suppose that certain delinquents may be amenable to psychological trearment; that the application of this method of treatment in criminal cases in its infancy and is likely to remain so for many years to come: that, probably, its scope is limited and may be mainly preventative, and applicable chiefly to children, juveniles and adolescents; that the time has arrived when selected cases should be placed voluntarily under psychological treatment; and that, in order to test thoroughly the value of the method, a systematic follow up of the cases dealt with in this manner should be conducted over a prolonged period; and the results, the failures as well as the successes, of accredited medical psychologists should be published in due course. And further, if we accept the psychological explanation in certain cases of crime, we do not regard it necessarily as an excuse for the offence . . ."
For the implementation of this recommendation the commission advised as follow :

"The field woorker would have her place, the prison medical officer would conduct physical and mental examinations and eliminate cases of mental defectiveness and gross mental disorder. And the medical psychologist would carry out further psychological investigations and treatment in selected cases".

I have repeated these moderate, though nevertheless in part sceptical, recomendations in detail because they countain the means for overcoming one of the insuperable barries to research. The putting into effect of these recomendations would be highly desirable. If, in accordance with the recomendation would be highlly desirable. If, in accordance with the recomendation of the English Committee, analysts with oficial status should work in the prisons, if a considerable number of analysts of criminals were available, and if the need for such work should be apparent to criminologists, this could contribute considerably to overcomming their resistance to psychology.

The wide field of the psychology of criminal law comprises therefore the psychology of the asocial as well as all those who come into contact with them. That includes, however, not only the judges, prosecuting and defending counsels, the prison and police officials, the social workers, but also society itself. Hitherto such important mass psychological occurrences as the atmosphere in the Court during a cause delebre and, indeed, as the lynch law, have been entirely neglected. They provide a most important key to the reaction of society to crime. In this case the fault lies with the psycho-analyst, for here there is no impidement to observation. Perhaps the difficulties which attach to every mass psychological investigation account for this lacuna.

The reacton of society is evident also in the law, in statutory recommendations, and in the expositions of criminal law and its history. We have already touched upon the particular difficulties which here confront us. Nevertheless, the task must be tackled and primarily in each respective field.

Book of criminal law that use in this reference :

-Paul Reiwald, SOCIETY and its CRIMINALS. Internasional Universities: Amerika.
criminal law reference
criminal law reference