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Professor David Wilson: My Life with Murderers

Saturday 14th December 2019

Technology and Innovation Centre (The University of Strathclyde)



Professor David Wilson has spent his professional life working with violent men - especially men who have committed murder. Aged twenty-nine he became, at that time, the UK's youngest ever prison Governor in charge of a jail and his career since then has seen him sitting across a table with all sorts of killers: sometimes in a tense interview; sometimes sharing a cup of tea (or something a little stronger); sometimes looking them in the eye to tell them that they are a psychopath.

Some of these men became David's friends; others would still love to kill him. 

My Life with Murderers tells the story of David's journey from idealistic prison governor to expert criminologist and professor. With experience unlike any other, David's story is a fascinating and compelling study of human nature.

Hosted at the Technology and Innovation Centre at the University of Strathclyde (Auditorium B/C) on Saturday 14th December 2019, this event provides a unique opportunity to hear David discuss his fascinating career. The event will also include a question and answer session. 

VIP tickets include the opportunity to meet Professor Wilson in the green room prior to the event. You will be able to take photos and have your criminological questions answered! You will also receive a FREE signed copy of one of Professor Wilson's books! Very limited number available. 

Book early to avoid disappointment and be prepared to gain an unrivalled insight into the life of one of the country's leading criminologists!

Book Now:

To book tickets for this event, please use the form below. Alternatively, click here to be taken to our Eventbrite page.

Screenshot_2019-10-19 Professor David Wi

Unfinished Business: Putting the conspiracy to rest Paperback – 25 Oct 2018

by Paul Ferris (Author), Stuart Wheatman (Author), Steve Wraith (Author)

This explosive book takes up where the late Reg McKay left off. Paul Ferris sets the record straight in his no-holds-barred account of his past criminal life, emerging as a true survivor in what was (literally) a cut throat business. An uncompromising story of a life of crime, the aftermath of leaving that life behind has followed Ferris like a black cloud. Putting those demons to rest and elaborating on The Ferris Conspiracy, Paul delivers another true story of power, corruption and the struggle to survive in one of our toughest cities.

This is a book we highly recommend to our readers. The anti-bullying message within the pages could be a massive help to all those out there who have suffered at the hands of bullies at a young age. The writers have shown the physiological effects that bullying can cause. Paul, Steve and Stuart have joined forces to put together a book that highlights not only the effects of bullying but also shows how bitter and twisted the forces of law and order can be. A well-written book that will be used as a tool for social history researchers and those studying the physiological effect bullying can cause. They have also managed to make certain chapters in the book extremely humorous while making it a fitting tribute to the late Reg McKay.

A must-read for all true crime fans and also those who study what causes people to turn to violence.

Underbelly True Crime rating....10/10

Biology May Give Criminal Psychopaths a Break



A new study has found that if a convicted criminal is a psychopath, judges will consider it a factor in sentencing — often giving the person a reduced sentence if there is a biological explanation for the disorder.

Researchers at the University of Utah say their findings illustrate a “double-edged sword” faced by judges when they are given a “biomechanical” explanation for a criminal’s mental disorder: If a criminal’s behaviour has a biological basis, is that reason to reduce the sentence because defective genes or brain function leaves the criminal with less self-control and ability to tell right from wrong? Or is it a reason for a harsher sentence because the criminal is likely to re-offend?

In a nationwide sample of judges, the researchers found that expert testimony concerning the biological causes of psychopathy reduced sentencing from almost 14 years to less than 13 years, according to study co-author Dr James Tabery, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Utah.

The anonymous online survey asked judges to read a scenario, based on a real Georgia case, about a psychopath convicted of aggravated battery for savagely beating a store clerk with a gun during a robbery attempt.

The judges were then asked to answer a series of questions, including whether they consider scientific evidence of psychopathy to be an aggravating or mitigating factor that would affect sentencing and what sentence they would impose.

The judges were also told the criminal’s psychopathy is incurable and treatment wasn’t an option.

While psychopathy isn’t yet a formal diagnosis in the manual used by psychiatrists, it soon may be added as a category of antisocial personality disorder, according to Tabery.

The study cited an expert definition of psychopathy as “a clinical diagnosis defined by impulsivity; irresponsibility; shallow emotions; lack of empathy, guilt or remorse; pathological lying; manipulation; superficial charm; and the persistent violation of social norms and expectations.”

The researchers initially recruited 207 state trial court judges for the study. Six dropped out. Another 20 were excluded because they incorrectly identified the defendant’s diagnosis. That left 181 judges who correctly identified the defendant as a psychopath, including 164 who gave complete data on their sentencing decisions.

The judges were randomly divided into four groups. All the judges read scientific evidence that the convicted criminal was a psychopath and what that means, but only half were given evidence about the genetic and neurobiological causes of the condition.

Half the judges in each group got the scientific evidence from the defense, which argued it should mitigate or reduce the sentence, and half the judges got the evidence from the prosecution, which argued it should aggravate or increase the sentence.

Judges who were given a biological explanation for the convict’s psychopathy imposed sentences averaging 12.83 years.

This was more than a year less than the 13.93-year average sentence imposed by judges who were told only that the defendant was a psychopath, but didn’t receive a biological explanation for the condition.

In both cases, however, sentencing for the psychopath was longer than the judges’ normal nine-year average sentence for aggravated battery.

Even though a year reduction in sentencing may not seem like much, the researchers “were amazed the sentence was reduced at all given that we’re dealing with psychopaths, who are very unsympathetic,” said Dr. Teneille Brown, an associate professor at the university’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, who participated in the study.

“In the coming years, we are likely to find out about all kinds of biological causes of criminal behavior, so the question is, why does the law care if most behavior is biologically caused?” Brown asked.

“That’s what is so striking about finding these results in psychopaths, because we’re likely to see an even sharper reduction in sentencing of defendants with a more sympathetic diagnosis, such as mental retardation.”

Source: The University of Utah