How a person convicted of hate crimes is reeducated

AUDIO | EL PERIÓDICO explains the interiors of the courses of the Conselleria de Justícia to some sentenced to prison

I regret having insulted you and having said those words to him taking advantage of the fact that he was a transsexual & rdquor ;. Jose (not his real name) is 27 years old and an electrician. One day argued and fought with an acquaintance transexual. A judge sentenced him to one year in prison and a fine, but his sentence was suspended in exchange, among other requirements, for attending a hate crime prevention program.

From 2016 to 2020, 69 people punished in Catalonia for hate crimes have gone through these courses organized by the Ministry of Justice and that they are mandatory. This measure applies to penalties that do not exceed two years in prison, when is the first time a crime is committed and whenever it is compensation paid to the victim. The purpose is to avoid recidivism and to banish intolerance and violence to eliminate the danger of the aggressor, to recognize the facts and acquire new behaviors. EL PERIÓDICO explains the ins and outs of these programs with the testimonies of their protagonists.

Jose explains his experience after attending one of those courses, which in his case included 13 two-hour sessions. His group consisted of about eight people. “You learn to identify what you feel at each moment (& mldr;). They teach us to capture emotions to control ourselves & rdquor ;, he emphasizes. He openly explains that his problem with justice dates back to a few years ago, when he had a fight with a transsexual. They argued. “I didn’t hurt him much. I insulted her and of course .. & rdquor ;. Did you hit him? “She gave me a cake and I another, and the insults & rdquor ;. The two exchanged complaints. The sentence, after an agreement and a sentence of conformity, was one year in prison, a fine and compensation to the victim. The judge substituted the jail sentence for attending a program of hate crimes.

According to Jose, it was the first time he had had an incident like this. She admits that she insulted her acquaintance because she was a transsexual, but she defends herself: “I have nothing against them. I have gay peers and friends & rdquor ;. When they told him he should take the course, he felt ashamed. Why shame? “Because I don’t like to mess with anyone & rdquor ;, but” if you touch me, you irritate me, so to speak, I’m going to use everything I can to hurt you & rdquor; and that’s what happened, he confesses. In the course, remember, you learned to control your emotions and your impulses.

Identify emotions

“It went quite well for me,” he says. Now, before reacting, he thinks “ten times.” In the sessions, they showed him videos and images so that he could identify the emotions. Of the particular cases of each one, it does not speak. “If one day I’m tired, overwhelmed, angry, I have to find what happens to me to calm myself down. If you don’t know what’s wrong with you, you’ll never know how to calm down & rdquor ;, he reflects. He was aware that if he missed a session, the judge could revoke the suspension and imprison him.

These hate crime programs are based on non-discrimination and equal treatment. Violence, according to experts, is installed in the mental scheme of these convicts. The great challenge is how to dismantle that scheme that, in some way, reinforces that discriminatory and violent behavior towards another. In essence, three emotions are worked on: fear, hatred and rejection, together with thoughts because, according to experts, this is where prejudices are installed.

Olga Loscos, psychologist at the AGI Foundation, entity that conducts these courses, explains that the convicted person is interviewed to assess their situation and to review their experiences, from childhood to the present. The initial report specifies the goals to be achieved. “It is interesting to see if there is recognition or not of the crime & rdquor ;, he says. The main objective: “prevent relapses & rdquor ;. The sessions deal with emotions, motivation to change, empathy or how to solve problems.

“You are already judged”

“They stand around me and I tell them: you are already judged. You will not be judged again. I am a psychologist and what we will do is work to avoid having to return. I tell them: you have several options: march and assume the consequences, you are here passing the time or participate & rdquor ;, affirms Loscos. From the outset, they are angry and “then they get loose & rdquor ;, he emphasizes.

“We talk about emotions. We connect with rage and anger and what is behind the pain. For example, you can ask: Has something happened in your life that has made you happy? & Rdquor ;, relates the psychologist. They try to make them realize the nuances of emotions and focus on “making thoughts more flexible so that they do not behave violently. They are people with a lot of impulsiveness and lack of control & rdquor ;, he evokes. Ultimately, it is intended that they understand that they can react differently. Examples from everyday life help. “They are given examples to explain what they would do in a given situation and they are made to see that there are various behavioral options,” says Loscos. In cases of discrimination, it is intended that they accept the different.

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Teresa Claveguera, responsible for Alternative Criminal Measures of the Generalitat, confirms that the purpose is for the person to “carry out a process of awareness and responsibility regarding the criminal act; tell you that you can change and, above all, avoid recidivism & rdquor ;.

The Barcelona hate crimes prosecutor Miguel Ángel Aguilar argues that “these programs are more effective than prison for reintegration purposes.” In his opinion, “we must work on the issue of prejudices and stereotypes that have led to committing the crime. In addition, most of the convicts are not extremists & rdquor ;, he assures. The Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office was the pioneer in requesting this measure.

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