Monday, April 20, 2009

What Everybody Ought To Know About "Why Am I A Criminal?"

It's the question I get asked multiple times a week: "Why do I keep doing the same thing over and over again? There must be something wrong with me. Why do I keep coming back to prison?"

Maybe you have a genetic brain disease, maybe you had a bad childhood, maybe you chose to pass by opportunities or advantages that other people took, maybe it's pure coincidence and by random chance something happened that swung you to the wrong side of the law. Medicine doesn't have the answer, sociologists don't have the answer, philosophers and religious leaders don't have the answer.

Why do you keep doing the same thing over and over again, even if it's not good for you?

Don't ask me, I eat lots of chocolate and hang from tall rocks.

You do it because you're human, because the nature of humanity through the generations involves taking risks and random deviant chances in spite of one's better judgement. Maybe it was a stupid and risky thing to do to load up a big boat with people and cross thousands of miles of bare ocean without modern navigation equipment, but that's how our country got started. Risky or potentially dangerous behaviors can land you in prison or make you a founding father. It just depends.

The other aspect of human behavior is that we only question our repetitive habits when they result in bad outcomes. I've yet to hear anyone ask me why they keep succeeding over and over again. We take it for granted that success is the natural result of hard work and wise choices. Success is never viewed as a disease, even when it may be the result of hypomania.

The best answer I can give to the question "Why am I back in prison?" is: "I don't know, but it would help if you reported to your parole officer."