Punishment and Rehabilitation

Topics: Criminal law, Crime, Criminal justice Pages: 5 (1447 words) Published: June 10, 2012
AJS/502

Punishment and Rehabilitation

Society expects the criminal justice system to punish and rehabilitate persons who commit crime. In the United States, the primary goal to be achieved for those who break the law is punishment. There are many arguments amongst theorists on the approach that works best. Some think punishment is the best approach to crime, others think rehabilitation works best. The effectiveness of punishment and rehabilitation is being analyzed continuously from a perspective that notes the effects on both victims and offenders. The financial and social impacts on society are also being studied. The classical ideal about criminology proposes that punishment is used to create deterrence and the positive ideal about criminology uses the practice of rehabilitation to reduce recidivism.

Deterrence of Crime

Deterrence is one of the primary goals in the criminal justice system. Deterrence is further broken down as specific deterrence and general deterrence. Specific deterrence is intended to instill fear in the offender to keep them from engaging in future crime. General deterrence is based on punishing offenders to instill fear in or teach societal lessons by showing the consequences of crime. Punishment is based on the idea that it will deter offenders from committing or repeating criminal acts. Incapacitation is the most common form of punishment, however research demonstrates that recidivism amongst convicted felons following release from prison is as high as sixty three percent and that most prison inmates had arrest records and convictions prior to their current offense. Punishment through incarceration is a temporary fix to crime while the offender is confined.

Some critics argue that rehabilitation is a more permanent fix in deterring crime. Rehabilitation in conjunction with community supervision is seen to have a more lasting effect on offenders. This can only be accomplished if the offender is willing to do his/her part by gaining academic or trade skills to help them re-adapt to society. There are also programs to help the offender find employment and to aid them in re-developing a sense of belonging in the community. Therapy programs are an integral part of the rehabilitation process. Drug therapy programs are required for offenders who are struggling with chemical dependency problems, and psychological counseling is available for those offenders with mental issues stemming from some type of abuse. Good rehabilitation programs promote positive changes in the attitude of the offender and resources so that crime is no longer desired nor a necessity. When the courts allow probation, it allows the offender to remain self-supporting and accountable to society through paying taxes as opposed to using tax payer dollars to house them in correctional facilities. Probation also affords the opportunity for the offender to pay restitution to those whom he has victimized (Larrabee, 2006). Effect on the Offender, Victim, and Family of the Victim

Punishment through incarceration has many effects on convicted criminals. Incarceration has many effects on the offender psychological well-being. When an offender is separated from their family, it causes severe depression. Supporters of rehabilitation versus punishment argue that sentencing offenders to incarceration hurt the family structure by contributing to single parenting (Larrabee, 2006). They also argue that punishment causes social disorientation, alienation, and also increases the risk of recidivism. When an offender is released from incarceration, they face social isolation, stigmatism, economic and employment challenges for the rest of their lives. Rehabilitation through community supervision eliminates many of these issues, such as the economic and employment factor. Probation and parole allows offenders to remain with their families continue working or find employment under close supervision and they...

References: Larrabee, A. (2006). Punishment versus Rehabilitation in the Criminal Justice System.[pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic]
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