California Literary Review

Profilers, Leading Investigators Take You Inside the Criminal Mind

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April 24th, 2007 at 4:27 am

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Profilers, Leading Investigators Take You Inside the Criminal Mind
Edited by John N. Campbell and Don DeNevi
Prometheus Books, 377 pp.
CLR Rating: ★★★★☆

Human Predators

The science of criminal profiling has exploded on the public consciousness following the publication of Thomas Harris’s trilogy: Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal. However, psychosexual serial murderers have enthralled society since “Saucy Jack” hunted the alleyways of White Chapel over a century ago. Perhaps, it is the primordial brutality or the abnormal sexual deviancy that stimulates the general public’s interest in these macabre, inhuman, acts. But, whatever the motivation, many people have shelled out countless dollars for magazines, books, and movies that detail these horrid and despicable actions. It is one thing for Cain to slay Abel, jealousy and rage are easily understandable, but for Jeffery to kill an innocent victim, then have sex with the corpse, then eat certain parts of the victim, well, that’s quite another kettle-of-fish.

Editors/authors John H. Campbell, PhD, a professor of Criminal Justice Studies at St. Cloud State University and former unit chief of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (BSU), and Don DeNevi, former teacher of criminal justice at San Francisco State University have assembled a sequel to their well received first book, Into the Minds of Madmen: How the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit Revolutionized Crime Investigation, titled, Profilers, Leading Investigators Take You Inside the Criminal Mind.

Profilers offers eleven chapters that represent The Original Behavioral Science Articles on Criminal Profiling and eleven chapters that are designated, Contemporary Articles on Criminal Profiling.”

The book is very technical, that is to say, that “criminal profiling” is neither as easy nor successful as one sees depicted on television, in the movies, or in a plethora of novels. A number of sciences are involved in the “multidisciplinary learning approach” that has defined the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC), “a law enforcement-oriented behavioral science and data-processing center,” whose function is to provide support not only for research and training but for on-going investigations dealing “with the unusual, bizarre, or repetitive crimes.”

The chapters (articles) deal with the scientific or technical aspects of solving these brutal crimes and are resplendent with tables, graphs, and charts. The various authors also provide data and analysis concerning such matters as: victim risk, offender risk, escalation, time factors, and location factors which are illustrative of some of the sub-headings from the opening article, Criminal Profiling From Crime Scene Analysis. However, each chapter also has one or more actual cases that illustrate the point of the chapter.

Chapter 14, Using Forensic Linguistic Approach to Track the Unabomber by James R. Fitzgerald, is an excellent historical review of the author’s involvement in the capture of Theodore J. Kaczynski. And, Chapter 12, How to Interview A Cannibal, by Robert K. Ressler, is a disturbing interview with the notorious cannibal, Jeffery Dahmer.

Students of crime will be delighted with Profiling. Experts in the various disciplines have presented clear, concise, and no nonsense articles and they all provide sources for additional study.

In the penultimate chapter, Lethal Predators, the authors reveal a frightening clinical observation, “While it is clear that psychopaths, particularly those with sexually deviant proclivities, are at high risk for recidivism and repeated violence, one might assume that years of incarceration, combined with intensive treatment, would reduce the risk. The reality appears to be otherwise. Not only is there no convincing scientific evidence that psychopaths respond favorably to treatment and intervention, but also there is some evidence that psychopaths who have undergone standard prison treatment programs may actually be more likely than untreated offenders to reoffend following release.”

The authors go on to write, “…the lethal predator is a psychopath, a sadist, and a relentless hunter who willfully destroys human beings for pleasure; he is dangerous and abnormal and can be defined with reliability and validity.”

But then, isn’t that the reason we have the death penalty.

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