Sunday, August 4, 2013

Homicide 101 with Professor Murder

I asked this question on my Facebook page today and I am sharing it with those of you in the blogging world to comment on as well:

In the case below, this guy killed both parents and his sister 46 years ago, was judged not guilty by reason of insanity and spent 6 years in a mental hospital. He later became a psychology professor at a university. When you've committed a crime such as murdering your entire family, how long before people need to forget it and move on (so to speak)? And, how exactly should you be allowed to rebuild your life? Is it OK for you to be a professor, lawyer, therapist, doctor, etc. when you've committed this kind of crime? If not, why not? And what is the threshold in terms of crime where we say "no, you cannot be a doctor, etc.?" In other words, what crimes make it OK to be in certain professions and what crimes do not?

(Warning, video starts to play automatically with this link)


Maria said...

You know, people do get better. And some mental conditions are quite treatable and the patient is almost a different person when he/she takes the medications. I think that he has done well for himself and it's time to move on.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Oops, logged into the wrong account!

It's hard to speak to this particular case since I don't know the entire story. But I have certainly seen situations where someone committed a violent act while psychotic and then was found NGRI and hospitalized and went on to recover and lead a productive life. Assuming this man is a good teacher, then he's giving back to the community. If you accept the idea of the system containing a rehabilitative component, then it sounds like this time it worked exactly as it should.

Lawfrog said...

This guy is a clear example if someone who got better and moved on to do good things in his life. I fully believe people can be rehabilitated from certain illnesses and it would be unfair not to allow them to live their lives fully and productively afterwards.

My question centers more around whether there are professions where someone who did this should NOT be allowed to participate. If so, what are those professions and why should they not be allowed to work in them? Thoughts anyone?

knotty said...

Don't lawyers have strict standards they have to abide by? I mean, can you be disbarred if you've committed an egregious crime?

Seems to me any profession where people work with vulnerable populations like children or the elderly or others who, for whatever reason, are less able to look after themselves, should not be exposed to someone who has committed murder or any other seriously terrible crime. But even as I write that, I hesitate to say that one can never be completely rehabilitated. Like you say, mental illnesses can lead people to violence. So can organic illnesses involving the brain. You take care of those issues and the person is normal.

Of course, if the person were truly rehabilitated, one would think they'd reasonably understand that certain past mistakes may preclude them from being able to make all the choices them want to make in life. And then they would adapt.

Personally, I think sex offenders often get caught in these kinds of binds. They get out of prison and have to live in society where there are a lot of restrictions on them. Sometimes they are able to follow the rules, difficult as they can be, and function in society. Other times, they can't. I had a social work professor who dealt with these types of folks. He had one client who called him because a little girl had knocked on his door and he was not supposed to be alone with children.

On the other hand, many sex offenders cannot regulate themselves and can't be trusted. They don't get better and can't be allowed among innocent people.

Interesting question.

Thank, Q said...

Wow, this is a great question. I would argue that a person deemed insane wouldn't be capable of being a professor. However, I guess if the act was temporary insanity from something traumatic, then I can see a person being "cured." But, after so many years without other incidents, I guess it's safe to allow someone a 2nd chance at life, so I say "good for him!"

Leah Campbell said...

I think I would be concerned when it comes to any profession that works closely with others. If you could be so insane to murder once, who's to say you couldn't crack and go on a mass killing spree again?

Sr. Costa said...