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In 1917, the Calgary Eye Opener's irrepressible editor, Bob Edwards, claimed that "A good man who goes wrong is just a bad man who has been found out."

Edwards plain truth is not accepted by Canada's penitentiary and parole system which, since the 1970s, has made rehabilitation of criminals its paramount objective - something akin to pounding a square peg into a round hole.

While all that pounding was going on Professor Robert D. Hare, of the University of British Columbia, was painstakingly doing intensive research unravelling the mystery of psychopathy. Hare's conclusion: psychopaths are "completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret."

Hare distilled his research and conclusions into plain language for the general public, and published Without Conscience - The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.

Without Conscience bristles with information challenging the trendy belief that bad men can be made into good men by indulging them with conditional jail sentences, short jail sentences, in-custody education and early release on parole.

In a chapter titled "Breaking the Rules," Hare characterized citizenship as adherence to formalized laws and widely accepted beliefs about right and wrong brought about by a slow process of socialization, learning to behave, a maturing conscience and an inner voice "that helps us to resist temptation and to feel guilty when we don't. Fear of punishment certainly keeps us in line, but there are other reasons why we follow the rules:
a rational appraisal of the odds of being caught;

a philosophical or theological idea of good and evil;

an appreciation of the need for social cooperation and harmony;

a capacity for thinking about, and being moved by, the feelings, rights, needs, and well-being of those around us."
This description of what is involved in being a decent person serves as a backdrop for Hare's empirical revelation that the mindset of psychopaths cannot be changed, and that they pose a greater threat to society than their criminal cousins, the near-psychopathic.

Hare concluded that psychopathy is a syndrome defined by a distinctive cluster of behaviours and inferred personality traits including a callous disregard for the rights of others and a propensity for predatory and violent behaviours; remorseless as they charm, exploit, manipulate, lie and defraud.

Hare reminds us that many psychopaths never end up in jail, going about their predations under the concealment of "their intelligence, family background, social skills which permit them to construct a façade of normalcy and to get what they want with relative impunity. Yet they are every bit as egocentric, callous, and manipulative as the average criminal psychopath." Hare labels them sub-criminal psychopaths and says "if they lie and cheat on the job - and get away with it or are even admired for it - they will lie and cheat in other areas of their lives."

Consider the case of a local fraudster. In 2006, the Public Guardian's office gave full credence to an application for employment presented by Bryan Tickell; and hired him as a case manager. The unchecked application was a living lie. It gave Tickell access to the property of 217 persons whose financial interest he was sworn to protect: elderly people who had been declared incapable of managing their own financial and legal affairs.

Tickell plundered about for almost a year, highlighted by a transfer of one elder's million-dollar property into his own name - which he then sold. In another case - an elder gripped by dementia - Tickell drew up a new will and named himself as a 20-per-cent beneficiary in place of designated charities.

Likely sensing that his jig was up, Tickell quit his job. A review of his files revealed the work of a blatant larcenist. In subsequent police/public trustee questioning, Tickell expressed the fundamental credo of psychopaths concerning their victims: they were rich and didn't need the money.

On May 16, Tickell, pleaded guilty to one charge of forgery and two charges of breach-of-trust. On May 17, the North Shore News reported that crown counsel had described Tickell as the worst type of white collar criminal, without moral compass, preying on helpless people. "He acted without restraint" and with "complete absence of honesty, empathy and responsibility," Crown counsel Ian Hay told Judge Tony Dohm.

On June 1, after rejecting Tickell's letter of apology, and finding that his remorse was almost exclusively self-centered, Dohm imposed a six-year sentence. If it is his first penitentiary sentence, Tickell will be eligible for parole after serving one sixth of his sentence.

Eye-Opener Bob Edwards would be speechless with rage.