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Old 06-11-2012, 09:21 AM   #1
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Is imprisonment supposed to be rehabilitative?

I was talking with some people in real life about a recent situation, and one person said that jail was supposed to rehabilitate people.

It's not that I think jail/prison isn't an opportunity to bring down the recidivism rate... but I don't think one should assume that rehabilitation is automatically one of the goals.

I could immediately think of several circumstances where the goal was to prevent harm to people, to get offenders off the streets, even if those offenders weren't going to turn their life in a different direction.

Anyway, I wondered if maybe I was off-base, and that rehabilitation was an assumption regarding confinement, as opposed to it being tacked on only in certain circumstances.

What do you think?

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Old 06-11-2012, 09:37 AM   #2
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I can't speak for America but when I took a law class in Grade 11 (and my sister was in Law school) rehabilitation was indeed one of the reason for jail versus say corporal punishment.
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:15 AM   #3
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Punishment, protection of others, and deterrence.

There's rehabilitation potential there, but I don't see much of it with so many of my friends going into criminal law or working for DAs
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:50 AM   #4
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I believe the ambition is to in part rehabilitate, but sadly that doesn't happen




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Old 06-11-2012, 12:00 PM   #5
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Depends which prison system you're talking about - I believe in America, our prison is the first step in a system of rehabilitation where from there you go to a half-way house where you stay, get a job, continue to assimilate back into society then move back into regular communities. Versus in Europe where the prison practically IS a half-way house and it seems to have more rehabilitation aspects in there unlike ours where it's ya know, jail.

Maybe take a look at some statistics and see which country has the highest rehabilitation rate after prison then look at what's different between the prisons

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Old 06-11-2012, 02:00 PM   #6
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One big difference is that there is no for-profit private prison industry in Europe.
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:16 PM   #7
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The concept is supposed to be have rehabilitation involved but in practice it just is an attempt to make a person miserable enough sitting in a cage that they don't attempt their crime again. The problem is that the US prison system is overloading with non-violent drug offenders. There are also many crimes (varying in severity) that jail-time simply won't fix because the underlying issue of why they committed that crime is not addressed.
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:22 PM   #8
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Prisons were originally meant to be rehabilitative. The concept of the penitentiary came from Quakers who believed that if you isolated a person for a long period of time, they would be able to reflect on their crimes while maintaining their dignity, which was thought to be an important ingredient in the rehabilitation process. Hence the name, penitentiary.

Alas, didn't really work out it seems.

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Old 06-11-2012, 08:07 PM   #9
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:12 PM   #10
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According to my sociology class prison is suppose to be rehabilitation, but because in action it is more about punishment it doesn't really do so good at rehabilitating. In fact it seems that it turns petty criminals into hardened criminals.

Many are unwilling to put the proper funding into rehabilitation and when you consider the fact that you are penalized even after you are released (can't get a job) makes me think rehabilitation is no longer the goal at all.

It is about punishment and deterrence which for the most part works in that aspect, but they should really keep criminals of the same caliber together only (something they try to do). For instance I don't think junkies should be in there with murderers. It should be subdivided because the mingling with hardened criminals seems to create really hardened criminals.

Honestly I don't think the punishment and revenge thing works. I think if you commit a crime you should get punished just like when you are a kid and get in trouble, but if we don't rehabilitate criminals p[roperly all that is going to happen is they are going to end up back there and while personally that is there problem it is also a society problem and I think that trumps the personal responsibility aspect of it all.

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Old 06-11-2012, 08:17 PM   #11
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There's definitely supposed to be a rehabilitative aspect to prisons in America, but I think we all know they fall short of being that. I can tell you from personal experience that what programs do exist are more like empty gestures.

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Old 06-11-2012, 08:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xaios View Post
Prisons were originally meant to be rehabilitative. The concept of the penitentiary came from Quakers who believed that if you isolated a person for a long period of time, they would be able to reflect on their crimes while maintaining their dignity, which was thought to be an important ingredient in the rehabilitation process. Hence the name, penitentiary.

Alas, didn't really work out it seems.
One would really be stretching in saying that prisons, from the word prehendere (to seize), and jail, from the word caveola (little cage) were from the Quaker concept... especially since those words were in use for centuries before the Quakers even existed.

And even when the Quakers were an important group in the colonies, so were those who would use the stocks to exact retribution for violating community standards, so I'd argue that rehabilitation was *not* the goal of even the majority of penal systems in the colonies at that point... assuming one wasn't just executed for a major crime.

----

In fact, I suspect that the whole "incarceration as rehabilitation" idea is probably from the last 200 years at most, and only in small areas. I also suspect that incarceration has normally been a punitive measure for most of human history, and still is today.

I could be wrong, though, and China, North Korea, African and Arabic nations, and the former Soviet Union are probably on the forefront of rehabilitative incarceration, no?

If you don't care enough to research your own question, why should anyone else care more?

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Old 06-11-2012, 08:25 PM   #13
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If a person is drawn to criminal activity because of a broken family, substance issues, and bad friends/negative influences, then jail does not seem like the best place to put them. In that situation jail would only harden them, it would add stress into their family life, compound and cement substance problems, and introduce them to much worse people then they might have previously known.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:25 PM   #14
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I'm trying to parse that out.

I understand the idea that criminality might be nurture, instead of nature. I'd be more impressed if one could determine how much of a percentage of a person's decisions to engage in criminality are based on their free will, as opposed to their being unwilling to help it.

Until then, is the argument that only the very top of the pyramid of criminals should be imprisoned, as only they don't have someone worse above them? So, only people like, say, Manson would be incarcerated?

If you don't care enough to research your own question, why should anyone else care more?

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Old 06-11-2012, 09:55 PM   #15
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My argument is people should get in trouble, but it should be tiered. The lesser the crime the more it should lean towards rehabilitation and the more severe (like Manson) it should be punishment. Considering we have the ability to imprison someone for their entire life or even the death penalty we are already capable and do punish those at the top, but I think we should try (to varying degrees) fix those who seem fixable. It is like I said it seems like you put a car thief in prison and he goes back again a murderer. That to me is a system that just doesn't work.

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Old 06-11-2012, 11:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
One would really be stretching in saying that prisons, from the word prehendere (to seize), and jail, from the word caveola (little cage) were from the Quaker concept... especially since those words were in use for centuries before the Quakers even existed.

And even when the Quakers were an important group in the colonies, so were those who would use the stocks to exact retribution for violating community standards, so I'd argue that rehabilitation was *not* the goal of even the majority of penal systems in the colonies at that point... assuming one wasn't just executed for a major crime.

----

In fact, I suspect that the whole "incarceration as rehabilitation" idea is probably from the last 200 years at most, and only in small areas. I also suspect that incarceration has normally been a punitive measure for most of human history, and still is today.

I could be wrong, though, and China, North Korea, African and Arabic nations, and the former Soviet Union are probably on the forefront of rehabilitative incarceration, no?
I think you missed Xaios's point in a big way.

He didn't imply that prisons are a recent idea, he said that penitentiaries were. In fact, the Eastern State Penitentiary was built according to the philosophy that keeping prisoners solitary would break their criminal identities, allowing them to reflect on their crimes, as well as hinder the ability of criminals to socialize. It's design and the philosophy behind are still being applied in every single modern prison. You were right about one thing though, it was constructed in the early 1800s.

Xaios was wrong in that it wasn't Quakers who originated the idea, but the argument can definitely be made that such a monastic ideal had its roots in their philosophy.

Incarceration should be reserved for only the more serious crimes. I think America has something like two million incarcerated people, so while it's not really a hot-button issue in my mind, it's definitely something that needs to change. Anyone who's done any time in a facility can tell you that it's torture. There is a real dehumanizing that goes on in those places, reducing men to dogs fighting for alpha status and petty privileges. Putting people who are nonviolent offenders in jail only results in them walking out of prison with more mental problems and even less ability to find gainful employment. It's only those who hurt people in a serious capacity, be it financially or physically, who should be locked up. For everyone else, it creates more social issues than it solves.

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Old 06-11-2012, 11:32 PM   #17
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It's too bad the American/Canadian systems don't put more stress on rehabilitation rather than sending people to The School of Criminals.
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Old 06-12-2012, 12:03 AM   #18
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It's too bad the American/Canadian systems don't put more stress on rehabilitation rather than sending people to The School of Criminals.
Yeah it's hard to rehabilitate without rehabituating, meaning that the prisons just reinforce many of the bad habits that led them to their troubles in the first place.

If we are going to let them out again some day, we better change their habits.
Actually though, it's a complex problem that exceeds my normal thought commitment .
I'm really not sure what I think.
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Old 06-12-2012, 12:25 AM   #19
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I've always thought that jail time for anything petty is really pointless. if you think about how people end up in jail for petty crimes, it doesn't make sense to lock them up as a solution to the problem. for example crimes related to substance abuse, possessing or using illegal drugs in quantities for personal use, also slightly related driving a motor vehicle under the influence, and then also petty theft and other less serious crimes related to drug and alcohol abuse. putting those people in jail doesn't address the root of the problem, and only really serves to push them further down the social heirarchy of life.

people who go to jail for those sorts of things would benefit greatly from being in contact with people who can influence them positively and help them reflect on their crimes, maybe meeting once a week with a small group of people who have been affected themselves by the sorts of crimes the perpetrator has committed and maybe others who have been found guilty of those same crimes in the past but have changed their ways. I know that sort of thing happens in prison, but it's not necessary to throw some kid who got busted with pot in a cage and then try to force it down their throat. people tend to respond a lot better when they don't feel threatened and intimidated which is how I see the prison system from what friends have told me.

on the other hand some people who don't get jail time for their crimes definitely should, and a lot of criminals sentences don't accurately reflect the seriousness of their crimes like paedophiles and corporate criminals.
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:18 AM   #20
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I think you missed Xaios's point in a big way.

He didn't imply that prisons are a recent idea, he said that penitentiaries were.
Actually, here is what he said, causing me to respond.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flint757 View Post
According to my sociology class prison is suppose to be rehabilitation....
And then he talked about the roots of the word penitentiary.

----

For those seeking to convince me that rehabilitation is a good ide: You don't need to convince me thatincarceration is a good place to attempt it. I'm good with that.

I also agree that there are many crimes which have incredibly out-of-proportion penalties.

I agree that many crimes are better dealt with rehabilitatively than punitively.

The one thing I don't agree with is that incarceration is automatically tied to rehabilitation efforts.

A lot of the points advanced are arguing in favor of linking them, but if they were already linked... why would one have to argue in favor of what were already true?

----

BTW, I have to withdraw an earlier point. I was reminded by someone that Communist China and the Soviet Union did/do engage in "rehabilitation" of prisoners, as did the fictional government of the book 1984.

Of course, if one were to argue that one doesn't agree with what the "rehabilitation" was meant to accomplish... wouldn't that serve to demonstrate that "common assumptions" aren't really common?

If you don't care enough to research your own question, why should anyone else care more?

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Old 06-12-2012, 04:59 AM   #21
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If you take a look at what kind of people are incarcerated in the U.S., you'll find that the majority of them are there for various drug related crimes, whether it be simple possession, selling, etc., and their sentences are just too goddamn long. 15 to 20 years just for having an ounce of crack is too goddamn harsh of a punishment. Such sentences just cause stress and anger, and when they finally get out, it's very possible that they'll go back to prison for severely hurting or killing someone.
The main reason for incarceration is punishment, whether you want to admit that or not. And after incarceration, there's more punishment. There's probation/parole, which may or may not help, and that depends on if the probation/parole officer is a decent guy or just a dick. And then the right to vote is taken away..... what's the point in that? And then you can't even have access to firearms. It doesn't matter if you don't know it's around you. If you have access to a firearm, you go back to prison. And then certain employers won't hire anyone with a criminal record. Sometimes that's understandable. I don't want any police officers to have a criminal record. Their experience in prison can lead to bad decisions. But some employers that don't hire ex-cons have no reason not to hire them, such as Fedex. There is no reason for them to just plain refuse to hire ex-cons. Perhaps certain types of jobs shouldn't be open to ex-cons, but that depends on a lot of circumstances. If someone has spent 30 years in prison for any reason, I don't want them working on Fedex's airplanes. Their way of thinking could be along the lines of ".... my life, and .... everyone else's too!" and sabotage the plane.

Rehabilitation is not needed simply because someone committed a crime and their way of thinking needs to change, but rehabilitation is also needed because of incarceration alone. Incarceration wrecks an emotional toll on the convict, their family and friends (if they exist). I think recovery from the emotional toll of incarceration alone could reduce recidivism by 75%.
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Old 06-12-2012, 05:15 AM   #22
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I saw in interesting news report on a prison - in Sweden or Norway, I think - that was intended for rehabilitation. It was an island on which the prisoners were relatively free. They had their own rooms to leave as they pleased, with TV and a console if I remember correctly. It was a farm environment, where they would do manual work, had horses and farm animals etc. The prisoners seemed very happy and they said that the prison was teaching them a sense of respect.

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Old 06-12-2012, 05:19 AM   #23
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^Not in Sweden at least.




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Old 06-12-2012, 09:00 AM   #24
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Quote:
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For those seeking to convince me that rehabilitation is a good ide:

I don't think any of us are trying to convince you that rehabilitation is a good idea. Whether it is or not.

You asked if rehabilitation is supposed to part of the prison system.

And it is. It often isn't in practice.

This has nothing to do with whether it is a good idea or not.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:15 AM   #25
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Well... If it is supposed to be punitive, then...


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