Why do People Sympathize with Criminals?

Why Do So Many People Sympathize with Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer? (Marianne Eloise, 2017) 


By: Avani Malik

Even though Jeffrey Dahmer is a cannibal serial killer, some people still choose to sympathize with him. This article by Marianne Eloise is about why some people might feel sorry for the Milwaukee cannibal. Eloise mentions how “he genuinely wanted love and closeness” this relates to my topic, which is about why some people sympathize with serial killers, because in the article Eloise mentions how there is a book made by Derf Backderf. A man who used to be friends with Dahmer in high school. He talks about the friendship that they used to have, and how he noticed some unusual thing about him. This just shows why some people may feel bad for some criminals, because they aren’t like other people. This answers the question of why some people might be sympathetic towards criminals, they had a damaged past, and it isn’t their fault they’re different.

Sympathy in the Gully (Howard Campbell, 2014)


By: Avani Malik

Vybz Kartel (Adidja Azim Palmer) is a well known Jamaican musical artist. In 2011, Kartel was sentenced to life in prison for killing Clive "Lizard" Williams, with the accomplices of Andre St John, Shawn 'Storm' Campbell, and Kahira Jones. This article talks about how many people of Jamaica and all around the world, have sympathy for Kartel. Yes he is a murderer, but for some reason so many people still love him, and look up to him. Being a Vybz Kartel fan, I would say I still love and support his music. This relates to the main topic of my article because this is another reason why some people sympathize with criminals, they support Kartels music, and people that have been fans since before 2011, will always be there and support him, because he makes good music. This time it isn't because they feel bad for him, but because he makes good music, and people enjoy it. And even though he is in jail, he is still making music and there will always be people around the world enjoying it.  

Judge Rules Bus Beheading Mentally Ill (2009, CNN)



By: Avani Malik

Summer of 2009, on July 30, 22 year old Tim McLean was murdered by a man named Vince Li. Li is a 40 year old man, who has schizophrenia. McLean was on a greyhound bus, going to Winnipeg, Manitoba, when Li started hearing voices in his head. Li claims that the voices in his head were telling him to kill McLean. Soon after, Li pulled out his knife, and stabbed McLean repeatedly, not knowing what he was doing, according to the psychiatrists. This relates to my topic because to be criminally responsible for any kind of crime, the person would need to have the mens rea, and the actus rea. Meaning, that Li would have to have known what he was doing. Since Li is mentally ill and was unaware that he as killing a man, Li was treated differently than normal criminals. Something I have to ask would be if this is considered sympathy. Would some people look at Vince Li as a victim in all of this? Or does it not matter whether he is mentally ill? 

Killer Love: Why People Fall in Love with Murderers (Ryan Bergeron, CNN, 2015)


By: Avani Malik

Shelia Isenberg, the author of "Women who love men who kill" has talked to many women who has a relationship with men in prison. Isenberg came to the conclusion that there are two types of women who get involved with criminals. "those who fall in love with "ordinary murderers," believing they see the "true" good side of the killer, and those who start relationships with notorious, tabloid-headlining murderers because they are drawn to the spotlight." (Isenberg, 2015) Isenberg also had the theory that the women who were getting involved with murdered, were abused women. Whether in their childhood, or in relationships, and that if they are in a relationship with someone in jail, they wont be able to hurt them, and they are in control of the whole relationship. This relates to my topic because it makes some people think whether these women are giving sympathy for these murderers, or if they are just lost, confused and hurt with their own lives. Who could ever fall in love with a cold blooded criminal? Maybe some of these women don't feel sympathy for the murderes, but rather they see the good in them, as Isenberg started. 

The Role of Empathy in Crime, Policing, and Justice (Chad Posick, Georgia Southern University,2013) 


By: Avani Malik

This article written by Chad Posick talks about empathy in the justice system. He mentions how people who have empathy are most likely not going o commit a crime, and that criminals don't usually have any empathy. "Empathetic people are less likely to engage in delinquency or crime, Empathy affects how people think about crime and punishment in complex ways, Empathy and perceptions of empathy help to shape the interactions of police and members of the communities they are assigned to protect". These quotes from Posick ties in with my topic because this could also mean we can get a sense of the criminals mind, and if they actually feel anything towards these women who they are in relationships with.

CMV: I have no sympathy for violent criminals at the point of time, ("feartrich, 2016) 


By: Avani Malik

this article is an opinion piece, and I thought it would be good to add into my research because everything above is all about people having sympathy for criminals, but this person talks about how they have no sympathy for criminals, because they are cold killers who commit crimes for no reason. I think this would fit in with my topic and my podcast because I wanted to get two sides of this opinion, people who have sympathy for criminals, and people who don't. Looking at this opinion piece makes me remember how society is suppose to look at criminals, and that there is no excuse for them, other than some people look at them differently than others, because they might have some sort of illness. 

Why should we sympathize with criminals? (Vicki Ngan, 2014) 


By: Avani Malik

In this article, Ngan talks about whether we should sympathize with criminals. Now there is more to this story, but of course at first glance a lot of people will disagree. However Ngan talks about what if we know the criminal personally? Regardless of the charge. Meaning if someone we loved went out and committed a murder, do we still love and cherish them, for who they are, or do we put all that aside and look at them as just a cold criminal? Ngan talks about Amy Bishop, a women who graduated from the University of Alabama, and has four kids. Amy seems like a normal loving mother, correct? Well, at a young age, Amy accidentally killed her brother, and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Later on, she killed three coworkers, and injured three as well. We think about things like this and think of people like Amy as a harsh serial killer, but people don't think about what the criminals have been through. This fits with my topic because yes Amy Bishop will always be a criminal, but as I was looking at this through Ngan's view, I got the intention that we as the society don't think twice towards criminals. I am not saying we should let the criminals go, but everyone thinks about what happened to the victim, but they never look into the criminals, and what they went through to make them do this. Now, a lot of people who do look into this say that "something changed in them to make them crazy or go insane" but that's usually all they say. What if we thought about the abused childhood that some went through? Would we sympathize criminals more? 

It Happened to Me: I Write to Murderers, (Jessica Katharine Murray, 2012)


By: Avani Malik

This article by Jessica Katharine Murray is one I have not come across before. Murray feels sympathy for criminals, but she writes letters to them. That is something I wouldn't have thought about when having sympathy for a criminal. Of course there are some people who are in love with criminals, and are in relationships with them, but Jessica Katharine Murray is nor in love with a criminal, or in a relationship with one. She simply writes to them because she feels some sort of sympathy. Of course she says her sympathy has a limit, but she still writes to murderers, and some even write back. Murray says she is "fascinated by murder." Of course she only means to read about it, and not to go out and do it herself. She also states "I suppose it fascinated me that people’s lives could have fallen so low, while mine felt like it had barely begun" This was something interesting to me, because never have I thought about writing to a criminal, and having them write back to me like a pen pal. Murray says some of them write back, and one even talk about his life in prison, and how he like having her as a friend. However, Murray doesn't write to the criminals because they deserve sympathy but she writes to them because she can find sympathy for some criminals. This relates to my topic simply because Jessica Murray is not biased about murders, but she is a normal girl, who is just a little curious. Should we normalize the fact that some people write to criminals, even though they are not romantically involved with them? Do criminals deserve to recieve letters from stranmgers?