March 25, 2009
“Can Criminals Be Rehabilitated?”
The USA has a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other nation. Our crime rate is higher than that of any other advanced nation. Among the leading industrialized nations our murder rate is 3-1/2 times higher than the second place nation, Italy. The majority of persons released from prison in the US- estimates run as high as 70%- are convicted of new crimes within five years. These are statistics that are very real. My purpose is to research and determine if a convicted criminal can be rehabilitated. We will take this opportunity to further delve into the controversial world of rehabilitation for the “outcast dredges” of our society. You will read many ideas ranging from scholarly to just plain nutty, as to why the greatest nation on earth can have such a great crime problem. Unfortunately throughout my research I found that too few of these ideas are actually based on research, fact, or implementation. Too many are based on human emotions. Many of our decision-makers seem to believe that learning from the policies and experiences of other nations is somehow beneath us. All too often youth offenders are arrested and released too many times. Our sentencing polices are inconsistent, often too lenient for violent crimes and too harsh for non-violent crimes. Our public safety planning is too shortsighted. It would be better to spend more on intensive probation and scientifically based rehabilitation programs now, and less on more and bigger prisons tomorrow. We make “convicted felons” an untouchable class, locking them out of normal society and worthwhile employment, making continued crime all the more attractive. Instead of facilitating prisoner re-entry, we strain to make it difficult and almost impossible for some. More often than not no real intervention until criminality is firmly established and has become a pervasive lifestyle. Too many people including decision-makers believe “rehabilitation doesn’t work” although research proves otherwise! Or does it? My purpose is to find out what individuals say about Educational Rehabilitation vs. Faith-Based Rehabilitation methods, if it actually works on offenders and whose responsibility is it to ensure that the programs that are implemented are actually carried out by the criminals.
What is Rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation means to restore to useful life, as through therapy and education or to restore to good condition, operation, or capacity.[i] The assumption of rehabilitation is that people are not natively criminal and that it is possible to restore a criminal to a useful life, to a life in which they contribute to themselves and to society. Rather than punishing the harm out of a criminal, rehabilitation would seek, by means of education or therapy, to bring a criminal into a more normal state of mind, or into an attitude which would be helpful to society, rather than be harmful to society. The two types of rehabilitation that we would address for our purposes are educational and spiritual.
What specifically are the factors which cause crime? What in our present society is causing such decay? Some point to drugs as the primary cause for the rise in crime. According to Justice Department statistician Allen Beck, drug offenders currently account for nearly 60% of all inmates, as opposed to 25% in 1980. And even more specifically, nearly every inmate in jails across America has used drugs extensively either at some point in the past or during the actual commission of the crime. The surprise with this matter is that there are no nationally sanctioned drug treatment programs in the prisons themselves, and conversely, it is sometimes easier for inmates to get drugs within prison walls than it is to get food. Still others point to a problem that could very well be the cause of both crime and drug use:...