What Does A Criminologist Do?

Deciphering why crimes are committed, determining the patterns of criminal behavior and the reforms that can be made in today’s criminal justice system are all tasks that come with a career in criminology. The work they do is essential not only in allowing people to have a better understanding of the nature of crime but in helping law enforcement authorities apprehend criminals and prevent the commission of a similar act.

Many criminologists delve into the field of research to try to understand the reasons behind criminal behavior. For example, they look into the educational and family backgrounds of criminals to figure out common threads in their upbringing that would explain why they committed criminal acts. They may also do research on the mental and emotional states of these individuals as well as the environment and friends they grew up with to try to understand their motivations for perpetrating a violent act.

Criminologists also draw on previous knowledge about crime and behavior and combined with the extensive research that they themselves have done, come up with theories about the subject of crime and society. Their studies will give everyone—especially those working in law enforcement—a better understanding of various topics, such as the reasons behind the commission of a crime, the behaviors that could indicate a criminal mind and strategies that can be carried out so that those who are convicted of crime can be more effectively reformed while serving time in prison.

Criminologists don’t just confine themselves to books and research. They also go to the crime scene to figure out how a crime was committed and why it was possibly carried out. They also conduct autopsies to better understand the physical circumstances behind a death. For example, their examination could help them determine how a person died—whether it was through natural causes or due to strangulation, trauma or a gunshot wound. From the autopsy and a thorough scrutiny of the scene, criminologists are able to help police and crime scene investigators determine the circumstances behind the commission of a crime and who the possible suspects are.

Criminologists also gather data and statistics about crime. For example, they may collect demographics involving the people who are likely to commit various crimes, the states or cities where criminality is rampant and the likelihood that previous offenders are going to commit the same offense after serving time in prison. These statistics are then used by law enforcers and government officials to make policy or regulatory changes to better improve the criminal justice system. Because of their expertise in the field of criminal justice, they may also be called upon to serve as expert witnesses in court.

Documentation forms a great part of the work of criminologists. They write their reports after conducting their research on a particular topic and come up with a thorough documentation of a criminal investigation. These reports are kept in files and are referred to later on if similar acts are committed again. Their studies are also published in various journals. Because of the job they do, criminologists contribute to a better and more exhaustive understanding of crime, criminals and criminal justice.

Career Spotlight: Criminologist

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