Six-months now as a Probation Officer, and I find the criminal mentality still fascinating.
I see some of it in myself: a primal, predatory, self-absorbed perspective pitting oneself against all of creation -- a hollow, pitiful way to live.
Our job is more to suppress the criminality than encourage the good, protect society rather than improve the "client" (as we call them), play the cop rather than the counselor. Compassion is cynically ridiculed by a “pragmatic” view of corrections.
A thin line separates the mentality of the keeper and the kept -- we are both victims of the systems that spawn crime, locked in our loveless cells.
Parents teach their children to look for the best in others; that can be lethal when working with the criminal mindset ... you must always look for the worst.
When I respond with surreptitious affection to the criminal, the response is typical: sometimes tears, sometimes veiled appreciation, almost always a momentary glow underscored by its rarity. Then the reality of our institution grabs me and my client, and hopelessness clangs shut the fleeting shine on their face, dark despair returns.