Punishment vs Rehabilitation

8 August 2016

Punishment versus Rehabilitation, there has been many debates on the effectiveness of punishment compared to the effectiveness of rehabilitation of convicted offenders in prison and under community supervision. Punishment is defined as a penalty that is imposed on an individual for doing something wrong. The term rehabilitation is defined as a way to help somebody to return to good health or a normal life by providing training or therapy (StudyMode). If an individual commits a crime serious enough to warrant incarceration, then the individual is sent to prison as a form of punishment.

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While incarcerated the individual may have the opportunity to receive rehabilitation services. Does it mean that the individual will be rehabilitated? Is punishment or rehabilitation more effective in combating crime? I will disclose my findings in this paper. Effectiveness of Rehabilitation As stated by Miceli (2009) rehabilitating criminals has become a highly debated topic throughout the nation. With the majority of criminals being repeat offenders, the correctional institution has resorted to making rehabilitation a top priority.

Research over the last twenty five years has shown that some programs are more effective than others (Miceli, 2009). The effects of correctional interventions on recidivism have important public safety implications when offenders are released from probation or prison. Hundreds of studies have been conducted on those effects, some investigating punitive approaches and some investigating rehabilitation treatments. Systematic reviews of those studies, displays a remarkable consistency in their findings.

Supervision and sanctions, show modest mean reductions in recidivism and, in some instances, have the opposite effect and increase re-offense rates. This means that recidivism effects found in studies of rehabilitation treatment are consistently positive and relatively large. There is considerable variability in those effects associated with the type of treatment, how well it is implemented, and the nature of the offenders to whom it is applied. The specific sources of that variability have not been well explored, but some principles for effective treatment have emerged (Lipsey & Cullen, 2007).

Rehabilitation programs reduce recidivism if they incorporate proven principles and are targeted to specific offenders. Research demonstrates that offenders who earn a high school equivalency diploma while behind bars are more likely to get jobs after release. Those who receive vocational skills training are more likely to get jobs and higher wages after release and those who go through intensive drug treatment programs in prison are less likely to relapse outside of it. If effective programs were implemented, recidivism could be reduced by 15 to 20 percent (Petersilia, 2011).

That is not to say that criminality is a problem that can always be solved. People go to prison for a reason, and in many cases there is very little or nothing that anyone can do to change the choices they will make in the future. Rehabilitation programs are not for every prisoner, and we should not waste money on those who lack motivation. But it would be foolish not to help those who wish to change. Effective rehabilitation and reentry programs that help offenders go home to stay are good for them and good for the rest of us, too (Petersilia).

Effectiveness of Punishment In contrast with rehabilitation, there are others that feel consequences should be faced for breaking the law. Hard work for offenders is at the heart of our plans to make punishments more rigorous. Community sentences must be tougher and more intensive, with local communities benefiting directly from the hard work of offenders. Offenders will face the robust and demanding punishments which the public expects. Prisoners will face the tough discipline of regular working hours (Ministry of Justice).

Prison deprives an offender of their liberty and as such it remains the ultimate sanction. A prison sentence provides immediate and tough punishment. It leaves offenders in no doubt that the crimes they have committed are so serious that for a time their presence cannot be tolerated in open society. It protects the public and provides peace of criminal behavior. Keep in mind that criminals are incarcerated and not able to cause further harm. For these reasons prison will always be the right sentence for serious and dangerous offenders (Ministry of Justice). Effect on victims and victims’ families

With rehabilitation, aspects of what is called in the social policy profession the “what works” model – the goal is to ensure the prisoner, victim, and the community is healed and that connections between self, nature, god, and community are restored. Once balance is restored, the chances of the prisoner re-offending are diminished (Inayatullah, 2011). In contrast, there is the punishment model. Inayatullah (2011) states that the argument is that all the rights are given to the offender and the victim has none. Therefore in this approach, the best way to reduce present day and future crimes is to keep serious offenders in jail.

Evidence shows that twenty-five percent of criminal activity can be reduced by lengthy prison sentences. With the punishment model, there could be a deterrance of crime by new or repeat offenders. Effect on the offender Rehabilitation wants to educate individuals about the wrong choices that they have made and help encourage these individuals to make better choices in the future. Rehabilitation recognizes that offenders may be victims of social economic conditions, and wants to help offenders learn from their mistakes, with the intention of not committing crimes when they get released.

Meta-analysis is the study of other studies. The studies test the effectiveness of various programs of correctional treatment. Advocates of rehabilitation believe that meta-analysis can be used to supply deposits of prior research (Dove, 2012). Community partnerships are another approach that holds great promise for offenders. An excellent example is the Boston Reentry Initiative (BRI), a city interagency program that brings together law enforcement, social service agencies, and religious institutions to start working with inmates while they are still incarcerated.

On the day the prison doors swing open, a family member or mentor is on hand to meet each released prisoner, and social service agencies are prepared to begin working to help the former inmate get a fresh start. The BRI focuses only on the highest-risk offenders leaving prison. They are offered opportunities for work and treatment, but for those who fail to take advantage of them and slip back into crime, the program calls for a swift arrest and prosecution (Petersilia). Deterrence of crime

The view that the experience of prison in itself acts as a deterrent is rooted in the simple specific deterrence theory which predicts that individuals experiencing a more severe sanction are more likely to reduce their criminal activities in the future. Faced with the prospect of going to prison or after having to experience prison life, the rational individual would choose not to engage in further criminal activities. Surveys indicate that both the public and offenders consider prison to be the most severe or effective punisher of criminal behavior (Gendreau, P. & Goggin,C. , 1999). Fiscal effect on society

High rates of failure among people on probation and parole are a significant driver of prison populations and costs in most states. To cut down on new offenses and the incarceration of rule violators, several states are strengthening their community corrections systems. Many states began these efforts in the past few years as part of the national emphasis on helping people successfully return to the community following their release from prison. States are now bolstering both their reentry programs and community supervision programs and working to improve outcomes for people on supervision (Scott-Hayward, 2009).

Many states are facing the increased fiscal consequences from years of harsher policies such as truth-in sentencing requirements, three strikes laws, and the mandatory minimum sentences that have resulted in longer sentences. While there is wide consensus that tougher penalties are necessary and appropriate for those convicted of serious violent or sex offenses, many policymakers are questioning the need for long prison terms for people convicted of less serious crimes such as nonviolent drug offenses.

Some of these provisions were reversed during the fiscal crisis earlier this decade, resulting in severe prison overcrowding. States are also presented with a growing number of elderly and chronically ill prisoners whose ongoing care requires significant resources. To address these issues, officials have added or modified the laws and policies that determine the amount of time people spend in prison.

These changes have the potential to lower prison populations, allowing states to close facilities and reduce corrections expenses in the longer term (Scott-Hayward, 2009). In this paper I explained the effectiveness of both punishment and rehabilitation within the prison system and the question remains, which is more effective rehabilitation or punishment? The punishment versus rehabilitation models debates will go on for years and the debate will continue until the justice system can figure out how to deal with the offenders.

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