Rehabilitation essays

An institutional transition from being 'soft' on offenders to 'get tough' agenda which incorporated retribution, deterrence and incapacitation does not mean that the rehabilitative ideal is totally taken away from the justice system. Contemporary imprisonment is also about helping offenders' to "lead a law abiding lives in custody and after-release" (Crawley, 2004:65). Over 700 National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) schemes are being implemented in prisons. Research-based offender rehabilitation programmes do not only offer viable alternative for reducing recidivism, but they have also shown to be an economically efficient strategy (Farrall, 2002). It is widely accepted that rehabilitation programmes give the opportunity to harness prisoners' strengths, make amends to their misdemeanours, earn their redemption, and restore their relationship with the society (Maruna and LeBel, 2002). Today, many rehabilitative programmes are based on 'cognitive behavioural' approach, which attempts to alter how offenders think by improving their cognitive and reasoning skills so that they change their attitudes towards breaking the law. Leading empirical reviews of the literature on prison based rehabilitative programmes (Lipsey and Wilson, 1998; MacKenzie, 1997) told that the most effective way to reduce offending and re-offending is through education and employment, along with behavioural or cognitive programmes. In support, Marques et al (1994:55) gave an encouraging result by reporting that offenders in their study who did not volunteer for "treatment" were times more likely to be arrested for a violent crime in the first twelve months after release from prison or discharge from parole. Less dramatic but equally encouraging results were reported from Patrick Carter (2003): "well-designed, well-run and well-targeted cognitive behavioural programmes can reduce reconviction rates by 5-10% (cited in House of Commons, 2005:24). However, despite the positive effects of rehabilitation on recidivism, rehabilitation remains secondary to the facilities' primary functions: control and confinement. Carter's (2007: 146) research into prisons found that more than two-thirds of prisoners did not agree that they were being helped to lead a law-abiding life on release in the community; and only 28% of prisoners agreed that sufficient efforts are made to help prisoners stop committing offences when they have been released from custody. On the contrary however, Linden and Perry's (1988) review of research studies on the effectiveness of prison education programmes showed that although inmates have made substantial alterations to their behaviour, the changes did not necessarily have an impact on post-release employment and recidivism rates (cited in Ryan, 1990). Crawley (2004) argued that the pessimism that 'nothing works' and that 'whatever you do to offenders makes no difference' (Martinson, 1974) has destroyed the reformative aim of the penal system by encouraging policy makers and legislators to abandon the idea of rehabilitation as an objective of punishment- not because it had been shown to be true, but more because the disappointment of the high hopes invested in reform led to an over-reaction against the rehabilitative ideal.

Rehabilitation essays

rehabilitation essays

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