Prof. Dr. Yusti Probowati Psi. The First Forensic Psychology Professor In Indonesia: Mingling With The Children Prisons

  • November 07, 2011
  • Fadjar Efendy Rasjid

Her field of knowledge is something that is unique, namely legal psychology or forensic psychology. This unique profession makes Yusti Probowati visits the prison in routine basis as well as assisting the police.

Prof. Dr. Yusti Probowati Psi. began her routine visit to the Children Prison since 2003. She was concerned to the fact that there was no psychologist accompanied the rehabilitation process of the children prisoners. According to Yusti, the rehabilitation process ideally consists of assessment and intervention in form of counseling and therapy that involve psychologists, psychiatrists, and volunteers. “They are the nation’s future generation. We are responsible to educate them to become a better person,” she said.

Some children prison she frequently visits are Blitar Prison, Tangerang Prison, Kutoarjo, and Karangasem (Bali). Initially, many people were skeptical to Yusti’s choice. Striving to the sincere intention, Yusti just insisted with her choice. For example, she was willing to travel more than 4 hours aims to routinely visit Blitar Prison. “I frequently left Surabaya in morning. Once I arrive in Blitar, I met the children prisoners for 2 or 3 hours, then back to Surabaya,” said the woman who is currently Ubaya Faculty of Psychology Dean.

Yusti is very close to the children prisoners. In fact, she really loves and treats them like her own children. “80% of children prisoners are from the broken home family. None guides them as their father goes somewhere and mother works as Indonesian Women Worker (TKI) overseas. Actually, all they need are love and guidance. I thereby position myself as a mother,” she explained.

The routine interaction with the children prison makes her understand the real conditions they face daily. “Many said that they are depressed. Please imagine as they have to stay in a small cell with about 7 to 11 children. They sleep and do the waste there. The bad influences in prison make them even worse,” explained Yusti.

In 2003 to 2011, the number of Blitar Prison increases from 80 to 150 children and once reached 200 children. It is then essential to provide a special guidance aims to decrease the number.

When they leave the prison, many of them do not have do not have a destination. No one picks them up as they don’t know where to go. They do not have any activities after leaving the prison. Consequently, they are easy to do another crime.
Addressing that condition, Yusti established a house shelter for former children prisoners. Together with her colleague from Switzerland, Margret Rueffler PhD and some of her Ubaya colleagues, Yusti established a shelter project for children prisoners. Located in Jombang, the project is funded by Kindernothilfe, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) from Germany.

Now is her third project. The first was to develop a DVD and manual guidance for children prison officers that mentor them how to guide the children prisoners based on psychology approach. The second is training for prison officers and the third is the shelter project. “On that project, children are taught the various skills that match their interests, such as computers, crafts, or workshop. They are in the shelter for 3 to a maximum of 6 months. When ready, they are expected to be independent, able to work, and live in a society,” explained Yusti.

In conducting the project, Yusti cooperates with various institutions, such as the Penitentiary (BAPAS), the Child Protection Agency (LPA), the Children Prisons, and the Social Services. The example of her collaboration with Social Services is a workshop in Jombang which is willing to accept ex children prisoners to learn and do the practical work.


Yusti hopes that the psychology rehabilitation and guidance efforts she carried out can be supported by many relevant parties, especially the government. “At least, becoming a pilot project for more comprehensive development,” she concluded. (nor/c12/dos)

A Special Homework to Write Forensic Psychology Books

Aside from her assignment as Ubaya Faculty of Psychology Dean as well as the Chair of Indonesian Forensic Psychology Association (Apsifor) and the Psychology Association (Himpsi) East Java, Yusti is often asked to deliver guest lecture sessions at various universities and institutions. Besides Surabaya, she is often invited in other cities. She also regularly visits the children prisons and her shelter project in Jombang. This active woman seems to have an unlimited energy.


Her family really understands Yusti’s busy activity. “Alhamdulillah (Thanks God), my husband, and daughters never complain even though I often left them. We always communicate and maintain the quality of our relationship. There is a special time for families. Usually, I follow the holiday schedule of my daughters. For example, do the Haj Pilgrimage together or a vacation to Singapore and Lombok,” said the wife of M. Pujiono Santoso MM.

Annisa Rizkiayu Leofianti (Yusti’s first daughter) is currently studying at UGM Faculty of Psychology Bachelor degree. Meanwhile her second daughter namely Adistyana Damaranti is now on SMA Muhammadiyah 2. Initially, her eldest daughter did not want to take similar field with Yusti. “She was afraid under my shadow. I then gave her an understanding that the science of psychology is broad, and she does not have to be on the forensic psychology as me,” she said.

When at home, Yusti spends her spare time with reading the book and the housework. Including gardening. “I don’t really like to cook. I prefer to clean up house or do gardening. I love the maidenhair ferns plant,” she explained.

The woman who was born in Probolinggo also loves to watch movies broadcasted on the TV cable, especially movies about the law or criminal. “I love watching CSI, Criminal Minds, Lie to Me, and Silence of the Lambs. Sometimes, the movie could be a reference in solving the case,” said Yusti.


Yusti still carries out a special homework which is writing more books about forensic psychology. Her intention to write books began since several times ago, but it hasn’t been realized. “I’m being pursued to write a book on forensic psychology that can be used as a textbook in psychology. Now I am reduced my guest lecture session so that I have time to write the book,” described Yusti. (nor/c12/dos)       

Started from The Dinner Table Discussion

Yusti began her interest to forensic psychology field when she studied Master degree at UGM Faculty of Psychology. At her bachelor degree, the woman who was born on 22 September 1964 took the major of industrial and organizational psychology (PIO).
“For my master degree, I think to take something different. I was interested to observe the cognitive processes behind the judges’ decision. Eventually, I took the topic of the psychology of law,” explained Yusti. According to Yusti, justice is very close to the conscience. Psychology plays an important role on the legal area. Moreover, if traced, she is familiar with the legal and court fields because her parent was a judge.

Her name of “Yusti” was inspired from the word of Justice. As a child, her parents applied a dinner table discussion. While eating together, her father and mother often talk about the cases they handled. “As a child, I used to hear things about criminal law and the articles. All were carried over till now. Indirectly, I am familiar with the legal world,” said this mother of 2 daughters.

As the first professor of forensic psychology in Indonesia, Yusti often involves on the investigation of cases in the police as well as giving training in the KPK, the police, and the Police Academy.

“Usually, I am asked by the police to examine the psychological condition of the suspect aims to determine the motive, whether they have psychological characteristics in relations to the charged crime, and become an expert witness in the court,” said this smiley woman.

One of the most memorable cases for Yusti is the Ryan case, the butcher from Jombang, in 2008. The case was hugely reported by almost all media. Yusti and the psychology team conducted interviews and observations to Ryan who killed 11 peoples and Ryan’s family.

According to Yusti, Ryan has a very distinctive personality and that allows him to kill 11 people. “I chatted with him from a close distance. Something that makes him look terrible was the severe monitor of the police. Hands and feet were handcuffed. I thereby asked the police to release the handcuffs,” she explained.
When interviewed Ryan, the police severely monitored Ryan. At that time, I asked Ryan to hold a pencil for drawing something. The police eyes severely monitor Ryan’s behavior. They afraid Ryan will misuse the pencil,” she concluded. (nor/c12/dos)

Taken from: Jawa Pos, 7 November 2011