Rehabilitation in our Prison System
Rehabilitation in our Prison System
When Jeannette Brown first got out of prison in April 2000, she had nowhere to go. With felony convictions for battery and gun possession, and little education or special skills, Jeannette couldn’t find a job to support her five kids. Had she found one, she still wouldn’t have had a driver’s license or a car to get there. Jeannette met regularly with a parole officer, but their relationship was hostile from the start. Eventually, Jeannette moved in with her boyfriend, who, like some of her past boyfriends, physically abused her because of this Jeannette started abusing alcohol. Within four years, she was back in prison for violating her parole. “I was a two-time loser,” she says. Jeannette’s situation and others like it are one of the biggest problems in corrections. When people like Jeannette get out of prison, they can’t seem to stay out because they have not made the lifestyle changes needed to be productive society members. Jeannette enrolled in the reentry program in 2005, and landed a work release job at a bakery. When she finally walked out of prison in June 2007, she was greeted at the gates by four reentry staffers who took her to her new apartment. It has not been a smooth road for Jeannette, but now she explains, “parole officers used to try to put me back in prison, now I feel like they are trying to keep me out.” These days Jeannette is training to be a supervisor at the bakery. She has regained custody of her children and has moved into a three-bedroom apartment. She has sworn off booze and men, and has signed up as a volunteer to convince prisoners that reentry works. “If you see someone who has walked that line,” she says, “it helps you realize things can change” (Sharrock, 2008). As convicted felons, people are targeted as failures, and are not given opportunities during post-prison rehabilitation. Americana has giving up on trying to rehabilitate these people and the after math of that choice is a record high crime and incarceration rate. Most people do not realize that 1 out of 15 people will go to prison in there lifetime. People are coming out of prison drug addicted, mentally ill, and better adjusted to the criminal lifestyle. So, of course they are going to fail parole. Even though some people believe that convicts are simply criminals and there is no rehabilitating them, some criminals can turn their lives around with the right tools.
Some groups of people claim that rehabilitation programs for offenders are useless because these individuals have no hope of rehabilitation. They believe it is embedded in their nature. They also feel that you cannot restore an individual into someone that they never were. Some believe that America has already tried and failed at rehabilitation programs. In 1974 sociologist Robert Martinson stated, “That correctional treatment had no effect on the recidivism rate.” Five years later he changed his mind and stated, “Some programs do have an effect on recidivism” (Katel, 2007). However, the damage had already been done. America clung onto Martinson’s first statement claiming treatment does not work. Ever since then people have been skeptical about rehabilitation programs. In the 1980s, America designed a variety of intensive supervision programs (ISP), including boot camps, day reporting, and electronic monitoring. The hope was that some offenders that were heading towards prison would be involved in intensive community programs that could keep a closer watch on them and offer more support services. Other offenders could be released early into community programs. Joan Petersilia was the co director of the Corporation’s national evaluation of ISPs (RAND) in the early 1990s. She says, “Despite all the good intentions, most of the ISP dollars wound up being used to fund more drug testing, parole agent contacts, and electronic monitoring rather than enhanced...
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