Which Is More Effective, Treatment or Punishment?

Topics: Crime, Operant conditioning, Criminology Pages: 4 (1334 words) Published: February 26, 2013
Treatment and Punishment of Crime

Angle of attack= which is more effective, treatment or punishment?

A significant question that is asked about offenders is how can they be prevented from re-offending? There have been a number of therapies and treatments developed by psychologists in order to change offending behaviour. Three main ones are; behaviour modification (token economies), anger management and social skills training (SST). The government have also added measurements such as ‘zero tolerance’ and imprisonment is put in place in order to stop reoffenders. I feel punishment and treatment are only more effective than the other when used for different types of crimes and on different types of people. In this essay I am going to be evaluating the three main therapies/ treatments and evaluating how effective they are.

Behaviour modification (token economies) is based on the principals of operant conditioning. The basic Idea is criminal behaviour can be learned like any other type of behaviour using positive or negative reinforcement, therefore it can be ‘unlearned’. Token economy is used in an institution like a prison where when a prisoner behaves in a desired way or completes chores they are then given a token to use for luxuries such as chocolate, cigarettes or visits home. The idea is that, through selective reinforcement, socially acceptable behaviours are learned and socially unacceptable behaviours are extinguished through lack of reinforcement. Hobbs and Holt (1976) for example, report improvements in the behaviour of young offenders and Ayllon and Milan (1979) report similar findings with adult prisoners. Unfortunately, evidence that the effects are long lasting is much weaker. As was found in therapeutic settings, once reinforcement is discontinued when the person leaves the institution, the behaviours previously reinforced are no longer reinforced and tend to disappear. I feel the effects would be short term as once you are out of the...
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