General Question

Siren's avatar

Criminal Minds: Can they be rehabilitated?

Asked by Siren (3404points) January 22nd, 2010

Recently, a friend and colleague disclosed to me that she had previously been more or less a career criminal for over a decade until she was caught, did time and has moved on to more legitimate pursuits for the last five years or so (where I met her).

I know she told me this in the context of discussing some philosophical issues we were engaged in at the time, but I also realize she trusted me to be non-judgmental about her past and someone who could keep her secret.

I’m glad she has moved on with her life in a positive way and will continue to be her friend and colleague. Unfortunately, some of the activities she engaged in makes her a pretty good predator for the rest of us, financially-speaking and I’m a little more wary of her. In fact, unsure if I should even invite her to my home for dinner in the future, as initially planned.

My question is, do you think she is capable of reverting back to her previous life of crime and if so, could she be a threat to those around her? Should I be a little worried/wary? It’s only been about 5 years. I would like to hear from people who have had similar experiences or don’t mind sharing their own stories as a former career criminal (feel free to portray yourself in the third person if you are uncomfortable describing your own past/present but would like to contribute). I’m leaning towards maintaining the friendship as it currently stands, but I think I may hang back on becoming better friends.

Here are some more details: She has not shown much remorse for her activities, except for getting caught, but has stated that this chapter of her life is closed, although she has had many opportunities, and continues to have those opportunities, to go back to her criminal activity if she should choose to. Thoughts?

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24 Answers

Ruallreb8ters's avatar

First of all criminal activity and criminal minded are both vague. Theres hundreds of things you can do to get locked up, not all make you a bad person. people are in prison right now for selling pot. anyone can change, but if the offense wasnt distructive i would question her even needing to change at all. and always best not to be judgmental. just go with your instinct.

Siren's avatar

@Ruallreb8ters: I don’t know, I think they’re similar terms if the criminal activity has been going on for as long as a decade. I think I clarified that this person’s activities were of a white-collar, financial nature and that people financially suffered through her ongoing, decade-long activities. This is what she disclosed to me.

However, I’m more concerned about whether this individual has the potential to stay out of criminal activity in the future.

life_after_2012's avatar

I work in the collections industry so you kow we dont’t play that white collar crime shit, but ive worked with people fresh out of prison for fraud, lareny, ect.. Don’t ask me why they were hired. They weren’t able to keep thier hands out of the cookie jar even after prison. A person like that who is good at what they do illegally and continues to put them selves in a situation were it could possbly happen again is probably trying to figure out a way not to get caught, it could take thenm 5 years to make the perfect scheme. If i go to prison for selling drugs and get out and hang out in the same places were i was selling drugs or were the drug dealers hang out chances im going to get back into selling drugs. If your not familiar with how criminals operate you should probably back off. Your goona need alot of street smarts to figure this out.

Siren's avatar

@life_after_2012: Thanks for your input and perspective. She did tell me she made a lot of money from her activites. She lost most of it. Some of her indictments did include fraud, larceny…I can’t remember what other terms she mentioned. She made the news, she told me. It was a big scheme.

Pandora's avatar

Can such a person be rehabilitated. Yes. Is it likely without remorse. No.

I think for one to change they would have to regret the action they did. If they do not then they are likely to do it again. Don’t confuse her confidence in you for trust. At least not in a flattering way. She may either feel your empathy will ensure your trust in her or she’s just so cocky and sure about herself that she figures even if you knew the truth you wouldn’t do anything to stop her
There is the possibility that she just needed to get this secret off her chest but a con man/woman who doesn’t feel remorse is a funny thing.

My cousin got swindled by her best friend who turned out to be a con woman. She told her she was sorry for the financial ruin she created for her but it was a lie. She knew her for about 5 years. The woman was married, had 2 children in school with my cousin and had a beautiful home. She convinced her to go into business with her and my cousin put up most of the money. Her friend took every cent over a 2 year period and fixed the books. My cousin didn’t see it coming until the bill collectors came. She found out this person had a criminal record dating back for 10 years and she would do a scam and change her name and move on. There have been quite a few former business partners she ripped off.

On the other hand, I have seen some but they were usually remorseful. Had good family support to help them through rough spots and the crimes they committed were because of a more personal nature and unlikely to repeat and not greed related or something that was done out of having a malicious nature or indifference to others.

Siren's avatar

@Pandora: Thanks for your answer. Lots of insight. This is along the lines of what I am/could be dealing with. If it were not for her disclosure to me I may have considered partnering with her on some non-profit ventures. However, because of what she told me (yes, she knows the financial and legal industries very well) I think I would be at risk to consider any venture with her. Could she have been unconsciously trying to forewarn me of what I could be getting into with her by telling me of her past? I know she values our friendship greatly.

Pandora's avatar

@Siren I think con people can sometimes even con themselves into thinking that all their ideas are good. She may have been looking for sympathy and felt if she told you, you may be more inclined to go into business with her out of guilt for not trusting her. Protect your family first. Friends should always be second. If she is a true friend she would understand.

CMaz's avatar

“Don’t ask me why they were hired”
@life_after_2012 – Usually criminals are Narcissist/ Sociopaths. Putting them on a phone and having them badger people is a natural.

Criminals that are a product of environment and opportunity, I feel, can go back to a normal life.
The ones with mental disorders are another story.

VanCityKid's avatar

Definitely not in prison.

Cruiser's avatar

Addictive, destructive behaviors can be corrected with rehabilitation and therapy but they forever will be walking that fine line between temptation and their ability to resist that temptation. I would not let her have access to monies, vaulables or sensitive information EVER! She earned that caution and suspicion with her decade long crime spree. She very well may lead a clean life here on out but not a day will go by without her thinking about that taste of easy money.

Siren's avatar

@Pandora: Yes, I won’t be engaging in any engaging in any activities with her. We never discussed the possibility, although I’m sure we each thought the other was a possible partner for doing so. Once she told me about her past, I realized I would be in over my head since she knows so much about business ins-and-outs and I know very little, plus all the valid points you made.

@ChazMaz: Good point. I don’t know if she has any disorders. She otherwise comes across as a very generous (in deed and in spirit), compassionate individual. That’s what drew her to me in the first place. And all her activities have been pretty selfless

@Cruiser: Yes, she definitely described what she reaped during her spree with fondness in her voice. But, she has told me that what she has now financially and otherwise (which is still significant, although not on the same scale as before) makes her happy and she is the happiest now than she has ever been. So, although she doesn’t regret what she has done, has stated emphatically that her whole experience has got her to where she is now emotionally, she told me she doesn’t need to go down that path anymore, and is done with that life. That’s what she said.

Cruiser's avatar

@Siren It is unfair for me to judge or even offer suggestions on how to approach this lady. I too did some…not a lot…“illegal” things in my wild teenage years that I would never ever entertain doing at my age. Maturity along with the threat of losing everything you now have is a strong deterrent at least for me!

Siren's avatar

@Cruiser: Well, I did ask for opinions so don’t feel bad. I guess in a way we are all judging her. But I’m doing it to make sure I am safe. And I think I’m getting a lot of useful advice here from everyone, which I appreciate.

[Edit: Cruiser, I did ask for opinions from people who have engaged in activity as well, so you’re comments are pretty valuable]

ShoulderPadQueen's avatar

i dont have any experience but yeah its natural to be a little weary. i dont see a reason why one couldnt revert back to that and if someone wants to change they can.

dpworkin's avatar

I had a very tough adolescence that included hard drug addiction, violent crime, institutionalization, lots of things that would have led a contemporary of mine to predict an early death or a lifetime incarceration for me, but good fortune intervened in the form of a mentor, and it has been 42 years since I have taken an illicit drug, or broken any law other than a traffic infraction.

On the other hand, a career criminal who suffers from an intractable personality disorder as defined ny the American Psychiatric Association is probably going to remain dangerous all his or her life

ninjacolin's avatar

Yes, first of all. I’m sure they can be rehabilitated.

The feeling of remorse is not necessary for rehabilitation. The only thing that’s necessary for rehabilitation is conviction that your new way of life is better than your last. I would suggest finding out from her what her current thoughts are on crime. Her deeply held philosophy on what constitutes “a good life” along with what you know about her ability to pursue and achieve her own goals, (aka. self discipline) will give you a better reading than the appearance of remorse alone.

you can fake an emotion, but you can’t fake a good opinion ;)

if she is a changed person, she’s going to need people who trust her in her new way of life. she’s only human. evidence of good rewards, like making great new friends, all contribute to the level of conviction she will have about her new way of life.

lloydbird's avatar

Laws are made by people. People are fallible. Laws might be wrong.

daemonelson's avatar

Considering you’ve been sort of ‘allowed in’, I wouldn’t be too concerned about yourself being some kind of target.

Siren's avatar

@ninjacolin: Good points. She has been very generous to charitable organizations and in volunteering her time to local causes. I don’t think she had time for those activities before. So from that perspective and “on paper” she’s looking pretty good as far as adopting a new way of life.

@daemonelson: Another good point there. Perhaps I could consider myself an honorary member and immune to attack. For now?

@pdworkin: Sounds like you turned your life around very positively and things have gone well for you. She’s feeling really stable, loved and financially secure so it appears from the outside that she has no intention of going back. Again, what she said.

dutchbrossis's avatar

Yes I believe they can be. I believe anyone can change, if they want to change that is

YARNLADY's avatar

Each case is entirely different. Some people can be completely rehabilitated, and never re-offend, while others can seem to behave for awhile, but then revert. There is no way to know which is which.

I advise caution, and not to depend on anything she does or says. My son has been diagnosed as a compulsive liar, and it is very difficult to deal with, but over time, has become second nature to just be supportive, listen, and do not harbor any unrealistic expectations.

daemonelson's avatar

@Siren I would assume so. Confessing your crimes to someone, then screwing them over isn’t such a good idea, because they have the dirt on you.

radiantfalco's avatar

Sociopath. Rehabilitation doubtful.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Some can. This guy is a very good friend of mine.

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