Failing to Rehabilitate Inmates

Ethan Creely

There are many issues within the incarceration system. So much so, that there would be thousands of pages if all of them were written out and solved. This article will mainly focus on rehabilitation of inmates. For years, rehabilitation in prisons has been a controversial topic. Some say people in jail and prison deserve punishment, while others say that they need rehabilitation. 

Prisons and jails have tried to lean more toward the direction of rehabilitation, but have struggled to leave the traditional punishment based style in the past. The people that think that just sheer punishment is the right thing to do, are wrong. What we need as a country is to rehabilitate criminals, allow them to learn and get an education and bring them back into society in a way that reduces the threat of them committing another crime.

Why people are incarcerated and what type of incarceration
Credit to Prison Policy Initiative

Punishment In Prison is Failing

According to an article written by the newspaper, Vox, 76% of inmates will end up back behind bars after their first offence. That says it all. Only 24% percent of inmates will not return to prison or commit another crime.  Under heavy punishment and in a hostile environment, the human brain is in constant fight or flight mode where it is impossible to understand the punishment. Without being able to understand the punishment, 

Crime Rates Are Rising at Extraordinary Rates

The best way to explain this was written by H.R. DeLuca, Ph.D., Thomas J. Miller, Ph.D.,and Carl F. Wiedemann, Ph.D. “Even without the statistics that we use to track crime rates and the numbers of criminals, it is evident that our criminal justice system has failed the society it was designed to protect.”  The crime rates have risen so much that even without statistics, the majority of people can tell. This is showing that the threat of incarceration is not enough to stop people from committing crimes.

 In an interview with Lance Lewis, a former Sheriff’s Deputy in county jails, he was asked if he thought current attempts at rehabilitation in jails or prisons were working. His response was, “Yes, but at a very low rate. I would say that maybe 10 % succeeded in the programs.” Former workers of prisons and jails are seeing the ineffectiveness of the system.

Mixing Rehabilitation and Punishment.

In many prisons and jails, punishment is the main focus. Rehabilitation is basically a second thought. Prisons are trying to punish and rehabilitate criminals at the same time but doing so is near impossible. Punishment has to be completely separate from rehabilitation in order for either to work. According to an article written by H.R. DeLuca, Ph.D., Thomas J. Miller, Ph.D., and Carl F. Wiedemann, Ph.D., “These two missions work against each other and, in effect, result in more dollars being spent on a correctional system which has a decreasing success rate.” 

A concern is that a reshuffle and replan of the prison system would cost too much and that if it fails, there would be more issues to arise. There are current attempts to reshape prisons and jails, and they do cost money to start the programs necessary. Some programs have failed as well. Those failed programs have cost the state governments millions in damages. You have to consider, something as big as changing a millenia old style of incarceration will be difficult and costly. But changing it is much like putting money in the stock market. You put the money into it for earnings and results in the long run. 

What can be done

People are trying to start a new incarceration system. Using this system, there would be a first portion of punishment of the prisoners for their crime. Though, the second portion would be strict parole under supervision that would teach them how to overcome past traumas and other things that may have led them to commit the crime, along with giving the option of higher education and learning skills that would help them in the real world.