The Effectiveness of Punishment Compared to Rehabilitation of Convicted Offenders in Prison and Community Supervision Jesse Rountree
AJS/502 Survey of Justice and Security
February 10, 2014
The argument between rehabilitation and punishment has been a long standing and indecisive. Public opinion and policies tend to change on a whim, some lasting decades, while others are quick to turn from one approach to the other. This paper will show that rehabilitation is a more effective approach as compared to punishment while examining both methods.
In 1974, an article entitled “What works? A question and answer about prison reform appeared in The Public Interest. This article stated, to paraphrase, that very few rehabilitative programs actually reduced recidivism, which is another word for repeated criminal offenses (Martinson 1974). In essence, this was a final nail in the coffin for rehabilitation, at least for the time being. Looking back, we now see that by the time the article was published, there was already a building backlash against rehabilitation by the public. One can almost speculate that Martinson’s article was bias to public opinion. Martinson himself stated later that “he had ‘protested at the slogan used by the media to sum up what I said—‘nothing works.’ However, he confessed that the ‘press has no time for scientific quibbling and got to the heart of the matter better than I did’” (Cullen, Smith, Lowenkamp & Latessa, 2009). Since Martinson’s article was written, many studies have been done on his methods and have actually found that in many cases, rehabilitative programs do have an effect on recidivism (Cullen & Gendreau, 2000). Martinson’s article has, and will continue to have ramifications for examining the best course of action to take when it comes to punishment or rehabilitation. Extensive research of past and present methods shapes the culture of the judicial system and help to determine...
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