Do Prisons Work

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Do Prisons Work? Can Individuals be Reformed or Rehabilitated through Incarceration and Treatment Programs. Critically examine the Current Treatment Programs offered and Subsequent Impact on Recidivism upon Individuals being released globally and WA specifically.

This study will examine the effectiveness of current prison treatment programs in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, United States of America in rehabilitating or reforming an individual and coinciding recidivism rates upon a prisoners release. Prison based treatment programs for sex offenders in Western Australia, New South Wales and New Zealand are examined and recidivism rates compared. Treatment programs for offenders with drug and alcohol issues and the various strategies within the criminal justice system such as diversion, education and drug court programs are examined and differences explained. Rehabilitation programs such as education, life skills, employment and cognitive behavioural treatment are explained and research discussed. Conclusions will be drawn outlining programs with the highest level of recidivism both in Western Australia and globally. The “nothing works” mantra (Martinson) 1974, is seen to be refuted and treatment is seen to be successful when it is matched to the criminogenic needs of the offender (MacKenzie, 2006). Future recommendations are made in regards to the need for correctional staff to assess each offender as an individual with different needs, and to therefore implement programs that will give the offender the best change of reform or rehabilitation (MacKenzie, 2006). There are many treatment and rehabilitation programs currently used in corrections around the world aimed at reducing recidivism (MacKenzie, 2006). A heuristic approach classifies various strategies into incarceration, treatment programs and rehabilitation (McKenzie, 2006). These interventions represent different strategies for controlling crime in the community, and have some theoretical rationale for expecting a reduction in crime, despite being different in the mechanism anticipated to produce the reduction (MacKenzie, 2006). Incarceration deprives the prisoner of opportunities to commit crime, usually through detention in prison or in some states capital punishment (McKenzie, 2006). Rehabilitation is based on the premise that people can change, and if assessment is to contribute to rehabilitation it must be capable of measuring change (MacKenzie, 2006). The Static 99 risk assessment measure is an International Tool that is currently used to assess recidivism levels of sex offenders (Hoy & Bright, 2008). Rehabilitation orientated treatment programs include education, cognitive skills and employment (MacKenzie, 2006). Correctional educational programs are seen to have optimistic results in lowering levels of recidivism in prisoners (Stevens & Ward, 2007). Kaki Bukit Prison School based in Singapore is seen to be successful in reducing recidivism by aiming to creative a learning environment based on Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline” (Senge, 1990). Part of the discipline involves inmates engaging in the “The Reflective Thinking Process” (Oh, 2007), an education programme which aims to assist prisoners in reflecting on past destructive behaviour and to encourage appropriate restitution. The school is supported by a multidisciplinary team of teachers, prison officers and counsellors who work together to help students in their studies and in their journey of change to become responsible, thinking citizens (Tam, 2007). For inmates who completed their studies at Kubit Bukit Centre and were released in 2000 and 2001, the 2 year recidivism rate was 24% (Oh, 2007). Acacia, Western Australia’s only private run prison, is operated by Serco and aims to bring service to life (Needham, 2009). Storybook Dads is an example of this and aims to rehabilitate prisoners, break the cycle of reoffending and close the gap...
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