Punishment versus Rehabilitation
July 22, 2012
Arnold Wicker, Sr., C.P.P.
Punishment versus Rehabilitation
Citizens living in a free society depend on a justice system and the rule of law to create a perception of security that allows for a dynamic and productive environment. Throughout history members of society that failed to comply with, or broke established laws of society have been penalized or punished. Methods of punishment became more sophisticated as the public embraced civilization. Time and the consistent influence of the political structure have complicated a system developed to ensure citizens security within conventional communities. Initial remedies preferred to combat law-breaking concentrated on punishment and retribution, or the justice of vengeance. Today a more educated and enlightened society contemplates the idea of rehabilitation. As the criminal element and the inmate population developed, it became evident that a strategy to identify and attack causation both inside correctional facilities and in the communities was necessary. The effects of the ideologies concerning punishment and rehabilitation, and the applied theories of these philosophies inside correctional facilities and within communities, and the subsequent effects on recidivism rates has become a solemn topic of discussion between politicians and communities. Legislators and citizens must contemplate the effects of these ideologies in regard to community safety and cost to the taxpayer. This research will discuss positive and negative effects of the punishment and rehabilitative philosophies in regard to the inmate population and the community, and subsequent effects on community safety, recidivism, and taxpayer cost. Punishment of those deemed law-breakers is the oldest practice of justice and is contended to remain the most effective. Social condemnation, isolation from the public, retribution, and incapacitation of law violators has been a principle of the justice system from its establishment. The fundamental theory of removing a law-breaker from society and isolating groups of law-breakers in institutions that create environments conducive to suffering or existing held accountable for crimes committed has been the foremost strategy employed by countries around the world. The primary objective of the punishment theory is to restore the sense of security and justice to the victim and the community while establishing a technique of deterrence to prevent future offenders. Diane Whiteley deliberates the consequentialist concepts that rationalize punishment based on communal advantage. The offender gets what he or she deserves, and the public is placated. She contends, however, that retributive theories are ineffective in addressing the association of the victim to the exercise of punishment theory. The concern identified is that the benefit to society may outweigh the needs of the victim (Whiteley, 1998). Gray Cavender discusses the collapse of the rehabilitative theory in the 1970s because of increasing crime and recidivism rates, and the adoption of a model based more on sanctioning guidelines grounded in the administration of justice. Operational features of the program consist of determinate sentencing, mandated sentencing for certain crimes, stricter parole, and probation guidelines, and commissions to manage programming. The program is focused on retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation. The ideology is driven by the concept of individual citizen accountability. Citizens are accountable to self and community and when obligations to either are not met punishment is justified (Cavender, 1984). The premise to punishment is retribution, or the proposition of payback. The offender commits a crime and attempts to pay back a debt to society or a victim. Modern correctional facilities employ behavior modification techniques based on the premise of punishment daily. Inmates...
References: Carpenter, J. T., & Spruiell, G. (2011, Summer). The Psychology of Correctional Therapeutics and Offender Rehabilitation: Approaching a Balanced Model of Inmate Treatment.. Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 39(2), 365-382.
Cavender, G. (1984, May). Justice, Sanctioning, and the Justice Model. Criminology, 22(2), 203-213.
Petersilia, J., & Wilson, Q. (2011, Winter). Behond the Prison Bubble. Increasing Prison Population, 35(1), p50-55.
Phelps, M. S. (2011, March). Rehabilitation in the Punitive Era: The Gap Between Rhetoric and Reality in U.S. Prison Programs. Law & Society Review, 45(1), p33-68.
Whiteley, D. (1998, fall). The Victim and the Justification of Punishment. Criminal Justice Ethics, 17(2), p42, 13p.
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