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In their opinion, a strictly penalizing system would be the best solution to put an end to crime. Recidivism is one of the main topics which go against the concept that it is best for the criminal justice system to adopt programs which are mainly intended to punish people.
Prisons are of great importance to society, as they succeed in holding, punishing, and rehabilitating the persons that pose a threat to the general public. While punishment is very effective in dealing with the ones that have done severe crimes, the people that are guilty for causing minor offenses are most probably destroyed by their incarceration time. Even more frustrating is the fact that it is these people that end up becoming criminals after the experiences that they come across in prison. Such a person, their crime insignificant in comparison to much greater crimes committed by people already in prison, are predisposed to change, as they mostly converse with other criminals, instead of being offered counseling meant to make them regret their actions.
Even though the general public generally expresses its desire to see felons punished for the unlawful activity that they perform, it also wants what's best for society as a whole, regardless of the sentences received by criminals. If the public were presented with solid evidence that rehabilitation is, indeed, more effective than punishment, it would most likely turn to favoring rehabilitation. However, until someone can actually prove this, it is obvious that people will support what they know is effective. Everyone knows that punishments are the answer to practically all misconducts. Even when it implies having to find a solution to a child that has done something bad, a punishment seems like the best way out. However, if one were to explain to the child that what he had done is not good, and, that there are other, better, ways through which he or she can accomplish his or her goals, it would be likely for the child to avoid doing the same mistake in the future. The same thing applies to criminals, and if they simply get punished for their crimes, they will not necessarily understand that what they had done had been harmful, both for them, and for society.
One of the best methods of addressing crime would be for the justice system to correlate punishment and rehabilitation. Such an act would mean that at the same time that they would suffer from being incarcerated, criminals would also be part of educational programs meant to help them reintegrate society.
The work performed by inmates during incarceration time does not just benefit the state, as it also bring advantages to the inmates. "Besides the actual services inmate work provides, such job responsibilities are also meant to serve a rehabilitative function, providing knowledge and experience and instilling the value of work" (Angela Krom Fournier, E. Scott Geller, and Elizabeth V. Fortney) by contributing to the community through their work, the inmates achieve an experience that is likely to do good to them in the future.
The time that one spends behind bars does not actually have to affect their future lives and it can also be beneficial for them. Rehabilitation programs, for example, can translate into plus points for one's resume. According to Elizabeth H. Sanders Park, most employers show little interest in hiring people who had worked for big companies, as a typical "employer hires all of their knowledge and experience, regardless of where they gained it" (Sanders Park) a prison might not be a traditional place from where one gains working experience, but the truth is that the abilities possessed by the respective person are usually more important than the places where he or she had achieved them.
The authorities need to act urgently in order to provide incarcerated people with solid education. Taking into consideration the estimates, it would appear that an approximate 95% of the people presently incarcerated will be sooner or later released into the community (Angela Krom Fournier, E. Scott Geller, and Elizabeth V. Fortney).
In the last few decades of the twentieth century, people had become more interested in disabling criminals, instead of providing them with teachings that would make them more qualified of reentering society. "The change of the role of incarceration in the United States in the 1970's from providing rehabilitation for inmates to incapacitation and containment (Ogloff, 2002) has resulted in a drastic reduction in psychological treatment and rehabilitation programs for inmates (Haney, 1997)." (Krom Fournier; Geller; Fortney) People that are behind bars appear to have a higher tendency to become mentally ill, with the percentage of incarcerating people suffering from a certain mental illness having reached 15%. The normal population, people living in the outside world, has registered a much smaller percentage of mentally disabled, one that is between 2 and 3% (Angela Krom Fournier, E. Scott Geller, and Elizabeth V. Fortney). These numbers clearly prove that incarceration has a strong effect on prison inmates. The social skills of an inmate (one that has not benefited from a rehabilitation program) leaving incarceration have in all probability been reduced to a minimum during his or her stay in prison.
Through inmate development programs, correctional systems form partnerships with various state and local agencies, providing help for inmates, both during their incarceration time and consequent to the time they leave incarceration. During these programs, inmates have the chance of coming across all sorts of people from the exterior world, ranging from simple individuals to influent persons (who actually help in raising the self-respect of inmates). The Inmate Development Program differs from other re-entry programs by focusing on nine basic skills:"Daily Living, Mental Health, Cognitive, Vocational/Career, Wellness, Leisure Time Interpersonal, Character, Academic" (Sisco, Stephen) One could actually go as far as considering that the present correctional system is somewhat similar to the one in the 1970s, when people in the U.S. had been confident that fighting crime with the help of rehabilitation programs would eventually establish a beneficial enterprise.
The Bureau of Prisons, a correctional system, has successfully implemented Inmate Skill Development programs, which are meant to assist inmates in fighting their problems. Through ISD programs, prison staffs are expected to help prisoners by identifying what their deficiencies are and how they can be obscured. Concomitantly, the prison staff has to identify a prisoner's strong points and support them in shaping their character depending on their qualities. Because of plans such as this one, an inmate skill development program, inmates are likely to be better equipped in integrating society at the time when they get out of prison (Inmate Skills Development).
The inmate skill development program is particularly meant to assist the prisoners that have some of the greatest deficiencies, considering the fact that the greater one's need, the greater his or her dedication to fulfill it (Inmate Skills Development). At the time when they leave prisons, most inmates are ill-prepared to face the outside world, taking into consideration that they had not been taught to live honest lives during their incarceration.Correctional institutions have observed that one of the main influences in recidivism is the fact that inmates are not being presented with program opportunities intended to educate them so that they would integrate society.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, is not only interested in helping inmates better fit society, as it is also trying to get people to get through their incarceration period easier. The correctional system has focused on finding out what the requirements set by the outside world are in order for one to meet them exactly.
More than forty thousands inmates are released each year by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Assisted by the prison staff, the inmate sets a series of objective, each meant to help him remediate his defects. Apparently, inmates are taken in by the Inmate Skill Development program from the first day that they arrive into the prison (Re-Entry Programs).
Even though the last four decades have proved detrimental when concerning the everlasting punishment vs. rehabilitation divergence, matters seem to have changed to the better in the recent years. "The "lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key" mentality no longer works; skill-based training is the future" (Sisco) it is now obvious that inmates will be less inclined to recidivate in the near future, as they are no longer motivated by the trauma that they had suffered while imprisoned.
1. Krom Fournier, Angela; Geller, E. Scott; Fortney, Elizabeth V. "Human-animal Interaction in a Prison Setting: Impact on Criminal Behavior, Treatment Progress, and Social Skills," Behavior and Social Issues 16.1 (2007).
2. Sanders-Park, Elisabeth H. "Working with Difficult Clients," Career Planning and Adult Development Journal 31.4 (2009)
3. Sisco, Stephen. "A Look at Restorative Justice: What Are We Going to Do With All These Ex-Offenders?." Retrieved April 24, 2010, from the National Career Development Association Web site: http://www.associationdatabase.com/aws/NCDA/pt/sd/news_article/5523/_PARENT/layout_details/false
4. "Inmate Skills Development." Retrieved April 24, 2010, from the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site: http://www.bop.gov/inmate_programs/placement.jsp
5. "Re-Entry Programs." Retrieved April 24, 2010, from the United…[continue]
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