SOLVE magazine Issue 02 2021 | Page 35

RISK / SECURITY understand what burglaries and burglars are about , this will help them from becoming victimised .”
Having worked with very young offenders in a probation hostel , Professor Nee is especially interested in seeing the results of her research applied to more progressive methods of rehabilitation . Instead of focusing on negatives and deficits and trying to fix them , this newer style of rehabilitation focuses on offenders ’ strengths , works with them to imagine a better life and maps out ways to move towards that life . She believes it is a better way of working towards a goal that we all want : less crime .
Her interviews with burglars in prison look at these strengths . She identifies , for example , the expertise burglars display in rarely getting caught at the scene . They are , as she puts it , “ dysfunctional experts ”. Even though what they do is obviously criminal , many are ‘ good ’ at it .
RUNNING ON AUTO Like their fellow citizens in more respectable occupations , she explains , burglars ’ automatic scripts govern how they live their lives . When they commit offences , their cognitive scripts operate as mental maps to help them complete a task quickly with minimal risk . So they operate on automatic pilot with , as one burglar told her , “ all my concentration go [ ing ] on listening out for someone coming back ”.
Moreover , as Professor Nee explains , even though many offenders genuinely want to give up crime , that ‘ expertise ’ is hardwired into them . They do not like going in and out of prison , but it becomes a way of life .
A crucial feature of this burgling mindset or burgling expertise that she has identified is “ peer kudos ” or the need to feel validated as part of a group .
This can be used in rehabilitation , Professor Nee says , with counsellors telling the would-be desisters , “ Despite your challenges , you are ‘ good ’ at burgling . So let ’ s turn this ability into something positive and pro-social .”
She points out that many rehabilitation programmes have not taken on board the reality that offenders usually offend because of dysfunctional home lives , evidenced by the resultant automatic scripts that come from this and the people by whom they are surrounded . Being in prison with offenders or in a community with ex-offenders makes leaving that life even harder .
With the insights being gained through research that allows young criminals to reveal themselves in action , Professor Nee is looking for a new approach that better grounds rehabilitation in reality and sets up young offenders with a more positive , life-changing self-awareness .
ISSUE 02 / 2021