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Rehabilitating Criminals: It Ain’t That Easy, Reaction Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1035

Reaction Paper

Abstract

This paper considers the viewpoint on ‘Rehabilitating Criminals: It ain’t that easy’ by Greg Newbold.  The author makes that stance that throughout the history of incarceration it has proved difficult to rehabilitate prisoners.  Since the 19th Century authorities have been trying to find an appropriate formula that works.  A personal reflection supports this view point taking into consideration the complexity of modern day living.

 

INTRODUCTION

This paper considers the viewpoint on ‘Rehabilitating Criminals: It ain’t that easy’ by Greg Newbold.  The author makes that stance that throughout the history of incarceration it has proved difficult to rehabilitate prisoners.  Since the 19th Century authorities have been trying to find an appropriate formula that works.  A personal consideration is that psychological factors are an important consideration in the rehabilitation of criminals.  Many have criminal thinking imprinted upon them at a very early age and as such a reversal of this thinking proves extremely difficult.  Today many prisoners get involved with drugs and this further adds and complicates the rehabilitation concept.  Equally society has not been really conditioned to the rehabilitation of prisoners and as such many find it difficult to try and transition to mainstream society. (Richards, S.C. 2003)

CONCEPT OF REHABILITATION

The concept of rehabilitation must first commence by looking at the life inside prison and how the prisoners are treated by life inside. The prison officers also have the difficulty of protecting vulnerable inmates and any minority group are always considered to be vulnerable in this regard. In addition, the challenges appropriate to gender and sex orientation pose new challenges when determining the accommodation arrangements of the prisoners. There is also the challenge of allowing the inmates to move freely around the complex without compromising their safety from the more violent offenders. It only takes on single predatory inmate to make all of the other inmates feel unsafe.  When this happens the prison management lose their sense of legitimacy and there often becomes the need to place these offenders into an isolated environment.

Other challenges include to the amount of inmates that are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. Hence these people are being based in prisons as opposed to that of special care facilities. The prison officers do not receive the appropriate medical training in order to deal with this group of people.  There are also increasing number of juveniles being processed through the adult prison system and some of these with no possibility of parole.  The concept of mental illness and drug abuse is a serious issue in terms of future rehabilitation as these people are more likely to revert back to criminal behaviour to deal with the drug habit. (Bayse, D.J. 1991)

The concept of stereotyping is that of making generalizations about a person or groups of people. In some cases, a picture or representation is made allowing the reader to articulate the blanks.  Prisoners are stereotyped even after they leave and return to normal life.  They are often branded with the stigma of being an Ex-Con ( former convict) and as such have a criminal record and cannot really be trusted again.  Many aspects of society are unforgiving in this sense and do not employ people with criminal records.  This again limits the options of those  ex-prisoners who truly wish to reform and rejoin mainstream society.

Newbold makes some very interesting points by production of certain statistics. He states that some 44% of prisoners had previously required psychological assessment in their lives. Many of these had drug or alcohol related addiction problems. Almost 65% had been unemployed at the time of their conviction  and a large majority came from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds and had lacked a formal education.  As such it was years of emotional and psychological conditioning that created little chance of future rehabilitation.  The damage had already been too substantial to the prisoners lives.

Many view rehabilitation as the most humane approach to sentencing and punishment. It follows the premise of removing offenders from society i.e. prison terms, for their crimes but working with them during the period of incarceration to adapt or modify their behaviour so that they can return to society as valued citizens. It is the concept of a cure for their ills as opposed to just disregarding them as felons who should be removed from society.

In the USA over the last 20 years the concept of rehabilitation has been largely rejected in favour of other methods i.e. deterrence, retribution and incapacity. The fact that a large number of the American prisons are privatised has resulted in less tolerance and perseverance towards the rehabilitation model. In fact many prisons of the privatised model add 30 days to the sentence of any inmates for any infraction of the rules. The ‘for profit’ model of privatised prisons has been criticised as lacking in incentive towards the rehabilitation of prisoners. Another part of rehabilitation has been concerned with reconnecting inmates to their families. Most inmates have become disconnected with family relationships in a distressed state or becoming disconnected.  This can be an important part of the rehabilitation model.

CONCLUSIONS

In 2002 the number of people in USA prisons exceeded the 2 million mark – In 2002 it was estimated that the US Jails held 1:142 of all US Citizens. (Longley, R. 2012).” This obviously points to the need for a new approach around the rehabilitation model.  Although this method has its difficulties there is a need to change the behavioural modifications of prisoners and get them back to society as trusted and valued citizens.  Much of this needs to be focused on drug rehabilitation and treatment of mental illness.  There is a differentiation in the treatment between what prisons can do and that of hospitals for those with psychological problems.  The current prison situation remains alarming when factoring in the trend and rise of juvenile crime. It has been questioned as to whether this is more a sociological problem than that of legal jurisdiction.

 

References

Bayse, D. (1991). Family Life Education: An Effective Tool for Prisoner Rehabilitation. . Family Relations Vol 40 No 3, 254-257.

Longley, R. (2012, 2 20). US Prison population tops 2 million. Retrieved from US Government: http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/censusstatistic/a/aaprisonpop.htm

Richards, J. R. (2003). Convict Criminology. In J. R. Richards, Convict Criminology (p. Chapter 7 refers). New York: Wadsworth.

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