The Lives & Characteristics of Career Criminals

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    • 00:01

      [MUSIC PLAYING][The Lives and Characteristics of Career Criminals]

    • 00:11

      MATT DELISI: There's a number of case studies that you couldthink about when talking about career criminalsor understanding them. [Matt DeLisi- Professor,Department of Sociology].And so I just wanted to mention three that really give youa sense of what the lives of career criminals are like.The first one is just to give you an empirical sense of this.And that there was an offender in the state of Nebraskawho is the most prolific offender that I've ever seen.

    • 00:33

      MATT DELISI [continued]: And that person had been arrested over 600 times.I believe the exact number was 624.Now, of course, most of those offenseswere for effectively nuisance typesof crimes such as public intoxicationor disorderly conduct.And for those offenses, he would havebeen arrested, placed in jail, served a night or two in jail,and then released.

    • 00:54

      MATT DELISI [continued]: So it's really not uncommon for career criminalsto be arrested multiple times within a week and several timeswithin a month because, usually, the offensesthat they're committing are relatively low level.Of course, they're offending historyis also punctuated by more severe offenses and more severetypes of punishments such as jail and prison.The second example I wanted to talk about

    • 01:15

      MATT DELISI [continued]: was an offender by the name of Jesse Pomeroy.And Pomeroy is sort of infamous for beingone of the youngest people ever sentencedto death in the United States.In about the mid 1800s in Boston,there was a flurry of crimes whereyoung boys were being abducted and then tortured and sexually

    • 01:36

      MATT DELISI [continued]: abused.And they weren't, fortunately, murdered.And so after a number of these crimes,they kept talking about that the person who had victimized themwas this older boy who had what they called a milk eye.And he had an eye deformity where one of his eyeswas effectively entirely a cataract.

    • 01:56

      MATT DELISI [continued]: And so it was very alarming in his appearance.So for these crimes, Pomeroy was arrested and prosecuted.And he was sentenced to what was effectively a reform school.And so he was sent to this reform schooland was expected to be there for a number of years.While he was there, there was one anecdotethat I think is very interesting and kind of chilling.

    • 02:19

      MATT DELISI [continued]: The boys are out congregating in a yard,and a large, very large snake appeared.And the correctional officer or personwho was in charge of them saw this snakeand was concerned about it.And because she had been observing Pomeroy's behavior,she thought he would be able to do something about it.So she found a very large stick and gave it to Pomeroy

    • 02:39

      MATT DELISI [continued]: and told him to kill this snake sothat it wouldn't hurt anyone.And Pomeroy did that.But while he bludgeoned the snake to death,he worked himself into such a frenzythat she sort of thought this boy should neverbe released from custody because he enjoyedthis kind of violence too much.Unfortunately, he was released and within a few monthsof his release had murdered a young boy and girl.

    • 03:02

      MATT DELISI [continued]: And for these crimes, he was sentenced to deatheven though he was only 14 years of age.At the time, which was interesting to me historically,is the response to that case is really identical to whatit would be today.You would have some who despite his agewould be so appalled by his violent conduct and his refusalto comply with normal behavior that they

    • 03:23

      MATT DELISI [continued]: would want him to be condemned.You also had another reaction thatwas much more progressive, I guesswould be the way to call it, wherethey were outraged that he would be punished so harshly.So although he was sentenced to death,Pomeroy later had his sentence commuted to life.And he spent effectively the rest of his life in prison.He attempted to escape from prison many times

    • 03:45

      MATT DELISI [continued]: and for approximately 40 years waskept in solitary confinement.So he's kind of an infamous offender in that he'sa homicide offender.He was deeply psychopathic.He was sexually sadistic.But he also can portray or give youa sense of how early these types of behaviors can emerge.The third case that I wanted to talk aboutwas a case near my home state of Iowa

    • 04:08

      MATT DELISI [continued]: that happened a few years ago wherea young person, a 17-year-old male who was from Minnesota,stole a car and a bunch of other things and drove into Iowa.As he was driving into Iowa, he happenedupon a convenience store or a gas station,and there were no cars there.So he pulled into the convenience store,put on a mask, went in with a gun, and robbed the store.

    • 04:31

      MATT DELISI [continued]: Although the clerk complied with everything that he did,he got cigarettes and money.And he started walking towards the door.And then he stopped, went back to the clerk,took off his mask, and then promptly shot the clerkin the face killing her.He got in his car, went down the road,and waited until he arrived at the next convenience storeor gas station where there were no other cars.

    • 04:53

      MATT DELISI [continued]: He walked into a second one and didthe exact same armed robbery-- got money, got cigarettes.The clerk was totally compliant with his demands.And he, nevertheless, shot her in the face killing herinstantly.He was fortunately arrested within minutes of these crimes.After he was arrested, he was shockingin his behavioral displays because he would often just

    • 05:15

      MATT DELISI [continued]: simply laugh about it.He was thoroughly without remorse, unrepentant, no senseof empathy for the victims.And he was really quite a frustrating type of offender.After this case happened, a newspaper reportercontacted me to ask if I had known anything about himor whether I had done any work on his case.

    • 05:36

      MATT DELISI [continued]: And I hadn't.But she asked me, why would someone do something like this?And what I started to do was sortof give her the life history of a career criminal,the life history of someone who had probablypsychopathic personality.And I went through what his adolescence was likely like,his school history, his peer history,his family history, perhaps, and what his childhood behaviors

    • 05:57

      MATT DELISI [continued]: would have been.After I was done, she told me that everything that I saidwas basically right and then provided mewith a lot of information about how severe his behaviors were.When he was about three years of age,he was found at a day care climbing upon a piece of furniture as if he wasgoing to attempt to jump on an infant who was on the floor

    • 06:20

      MATT DELISI [continued]: next to the piece of furniture where he was.And so as a three-year-old, he hadto be removed from this child caresetting because it appeared that he was trying to seriouslywound or kill this infant.In his own family, he would repeatedlytell his parents that he was going to murder them.And his parents and his sibling lived in frank fear of him

    • 06:42

      MATT DELISI [continued]: for most of their life and most of their life with him.They would have to lock their doors at night.They would have to closely guard weaponsbecause they were convinced that he mightbe homicidal towards them.Across his school career, he engagedin extraordinarily violent and inappropriate typesof behaviors and became arrested often and was in and out

    • 07:03

      MATT DELISI [continued]: of juvenile detention and the juvenile justice system.So it was really no surprise to anyone who grew up near himor was related to him that he would one day commitmultiple homicides and other serious crimes.So for these crimes, he was sentencedto two life sentences.But his story wasn't necessarily over.So about six months ago or so, I saw in the news

    • 07:27

      MATT DELISI [continued]: that he had cut the throat of another inmate whilein prison in Iowa.The other inmate, fortunately, did not die.But this defendant was now being prosecutedfor attempted murder.And because Iowa doesn't have the death penaltyand because he's already serving two life sentences,he will effectively not be punished for any crimethat he commits while in custody.

    • 07:49

      MATT DELISI [continued]: So these three kind of cases give youa sense of what these lives are like of career criminalsif we're not able to intervene and if the justicesystem doesn't intervene with a life sentenceor with a death sentence.But as the latter case even shows,even if someone is locked up for life,they can still be very problematic and violent.[MUSIC PLAYING]

The Lives & Characteristics of Career Criminals

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Abstract

Using three case studies, Professor Matt DeLisi describe career criminals and what their lives are like. He discusses the frequency of arrests, escalation of crime, personality traits of career criminals.

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The Lives & Characteristics of Career Criminals

Using three case studies, Professor Matt DeLisi describe career criminals and what their lives are like. He discusses the frequency of arrests, escalation of crime, personality traits of career criminals.

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