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Do jails (Gaols) rehabilitate?

People who commit crimes will sometimes find themselves serving time in a penal institution, whereby they will be punished for their crime and may after a qualifying period be set free back into society.

Western society has differing versions of punishment, eg some countries/states have the death penalty for crimes while some other countries will chop off the hand of a thief for their first offence and then the other if they do it again. I have heard in countries with this practice that their rate of theft is way down.

Conversely I have also heard that the death penalty does not deter people from committing the crime... clearly they are very sorry ...when they are caught.

Also I have heard that some criminals cannot be rehabilitated, eg child molestors, tho in some cultures castration will remedy this'

In a recent American jail documentary I saw, there were two different environments portrayed for offenders. One was in a traditional jail with the prisoners dominating weaker inmates, while the other was very military oriented with prisoners ridden hard by their jailors with strict codes of practice enforced.... the outcomes were incidentally overwhelmingly in favour of the military styled environment in terms of rehabilitive members.

My debate here for TED members revolves around the present status quo for their country/state with regard to prison terms and systems for rehabilitation and what in their opinion would create the ideal system for rehabilitation of offenders! Notwithstanding, measures for dealing with preventative measures which would see for example the over represented numbers of offenders who were affected by or motivated by drugs at the time of their offence : D

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Closing Statement from Time Traveller

Thanks to everybody involved for their time, effort, wisdom, experiences and contributions here.

My interpretation in conclusion. is that, jails do not rehabilitate but possibly instead further steep an individual into criminal institutilisation. Money appears to be more at the focus in terms of privatisation and it does seem a MASSIVE overhaul needs to be made in terms of punishment, jailing and criminal behaviour.

It seems that the nurturing/ developing years that a child is raised in are often the breeding ground but also the place to nip in the bud, criminality.

Some programs in jails designed to foster rehabilitation work for some people, as there are people who do care about this. Others will rehabilitate themselves due to wanting to break free of incarceration, tho this may come with maturity and reflection.

On the other side of the equation, if someone who has been rehabilitated after doing their time and paying the price for their crimes/s, they are then further punished by being discriminated against when seeking employment, thus setting up the potential for re-offending.

Many conversations on TED have revolved around this theme and it is unfortunate that there is not some better way (at the moment, I am going to have a crack at exploring our options) of better utilising the ponderings and ideas developed to be subsequently ideas worth spreading into society.



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    Jul 18 2013: Time Traveller,
    I'm wondering if you have tapped into all the other TED conversations that deal with incarceration/rehabilitation? There have been a few very long discussions on this topic, which might give you more information.

    I would love to see jails/prisons/correctional facilities operate as self sustaining villages, with offenders actively taking part in the operation of the village. This may give them experience in learning skills which they may be able to use when/if they get out.

    One of the facilities I worked in, while volunteering with the dept. of corrections for 6 years, had a mechanic shop, woodworking shop, gardens, etc. We could see the difference with offenders who were active in these programs, because their motivation and attitude was improved as they participated in "cognitive self change" sessions and other programs. They need to learn skills that might help sustain them, otherwise, as we know, they will often re-offend.

    Many facilities in the US are now privatized, which does not support rehabilitation. It has become a big business, so there is no motivation to rehabilitate. The privatized facilities would be cutting their profits if they rehabilitated offenders.

    I honestly did not witness "reflection and lack of freedom in jail creating the rehabilitation". There needs to be more motivation than that, because many offenders are not thinking about consequences. Many times their actions/reactions/behaviors are knee jerk reactions.

    You ask in your comment below..."...identify how to, for those impossible to rehabilitate, options to keep them away from society so society will be safer."

    There are some tracking processes which help identify offenders among us in society, like the sexual offender registry, which is public information and available to all of us.
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    Jul 17 2013: Let's see. Americans are supposed to be about freedom, yet we have the largest prison population in the world. More than China, more than Russia. Hmmm? How can that be? We take Pot smokers, most of whom wouldn't hurt a fly,if their life depended on it, put them in cells with hardened, violent, mentally unstable people, with long records, and we expect that's good for them, and for society. Hmmm? We put non violent criminals in cages like animals without any positive educational, resources in most cases, and we expect that will help. Hmmm? We send black, and Latino people, in other words the ones with the dark skin, to jail at 4 times the rate of whites. In some states, it's 8 times the rate of white people, and we somehow think that's going to engender respect for the law, and society. Hmmm? We treat drug use as a criminal matter, without any real effort at medical substance abuse treatment. We expect that shaming caging, and abusing them will somehow magically make them pure as the driven snow after years in confinement in dangerous, degrading conditions. We all see, especially the poor, and minorities how Wall Street moguls, (Rich) white people, and (rich every other type) get away with murder,lynchings,hate crimes, theft, bribery, election fraud, civil rights violations,bank fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, drunken stupidity, racial attacks,and every other crime, but get off with a light sentence, or no punishment at all, at four times the rate of minorities. We provide no contact with mentors, on a consistent, and regular basis, with no significant efforts at teaching career survival skills. We send them out to the world after being devastatingly punished to fend for themselves in a market where even well educated white people can;t find a decent job. Somehow we expect them to get a job immediately with no support, or assistance, with the added burden of a life under the cloud of a criminal record. "Ya" makes a lot of sense, to morons maybe.
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      Jul 18 2013: thankyou,Peter..I was going to write a comment..but after reading yours...i feel you have captured the whole thing and I would only be repeating...I am curious though...how did you acquire your knowledge...most of my white friends (sorry) and intellectuals are unable to correctly see any bias.. they theorize that the establishments are in fact as legit as they were taught in school....so in what way did you get your special powers of observation
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        Jul 18 2013: Love and peace to you Carolyn. "When will we ever learn?"
  • Jul 16 2013: Well, in my experience, "Jail" itself does not rehabilitate, "time" does. I spent a total of 23 and1/4 years in prison. I served a 31/4 year sentence, got out, and immediately returned and then did 20 years. Now that was an experience! I don't want anyone to think I'm taking it lightly because the experience was anything but... However I believe this is what happened: At 18 i received a total of 12 years in which I was to 'do' 3 & 1/4. during this period i just suspended my life and couldn't wait to get out to continue on with my where I left off. With that attitude I got out and 'continued', which got my right back into prison with a 20 year mandatory sentence. There were lots of issues during both events which were just wrong and prejudiced against me but that isn't the issue here. However during the 20 year sentence, I began to reflect on my life, what went wrong and led me to that place, what could I have done differently, reading and writing and pondering on relevant issues and then the resolve to never return. The 'system' did not rehabilitate me even though I received a college degree. However given the time to reflect and ponder on my life, issues that impacted my life and eventually the realization that my actions have consequences and that I don't want to waste my life in someone else's dream/concept (someone had to come up with the idea of jail). Now, more than 10 years post incarceration, I am still dealing with the injustices of this American judicial system which to this day, disriminates against me for something that happened more than 30 years ago and have paid for it in full, my mind is made up not to go back.
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    Jul 22 2013: There has been some excellent contributions made here. I also was impressed with the number of provided TED links to related (if not very similar) post/contributions.

    Here in is the dilema, and I feel the same way about University thesises left in storage, how can this vast deposit of information be better utilised. When this conversation closes, all of the good work (like all the other related good works) will be just sitting around, while in the meantime, another similar post will eventually come up and so the cycle continues!

    Does anyone know or have any ideas or suggestions regarding this, as the findings here I feel should somehow be summised and amalganated and presented to local government representatives for implimentation and social endorsement/petition/support! : D
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      Jul 22 2013: You are absolutely correct TT! It remains a dilemma because we DO indeed keep recycling the same information.

      Reminds me of this quote by Ernest Holmes in "The Science of Mind":
      "One of the great difficulties in the new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice".

      Many people in our societies KNOW that the system, as it is, does not work. Many people KNOW of possibilities that might work better for offenders AND society. We continue knocking on doors that are closed!

      Around the same time I was volunteering for the dept. of corrections, I also volunteered in a women/children's shelter, a family center, and had a job as a case reviewer for SRS (agency which oversees children in state custody). We were seeing the same families going through these systems generation after generation. There are some cycles that need to be broken, and our social services agencies are failing in that respect.

      After learning of some of the corruption within a correctional facility, I and some other people testified before the state legislature which supports and oversees the operations of the state dept. of corrections. There was also an investigation happening at the same time I volunteered. The 4 top administrators were relieved of their positions IN THAT FACILITY, and to the best of my knowledge, they were simply moved to another facility.

      When I worked for SRS, I passed on information to authorities regarding misuse of the system...a six year old child being returned to a foster home where there were multiple recorded cases of substantiated abuse, for one example.

      These organizations are both funded by the state, with state overview. Why do our tax dollars continue to be dumped into programs that are not working effectively? Why is our government privatizing correctional facilities when we know that it is becoming a big business which does NOT have the best interests of society as a motive? Change is difficult.
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      Jul 22 2013: Prisoners in California are currently staging a hunger strike.
      California was also ordered by the federal courts to reduce their prison population. Gov. Brown has refused to comply with this court order.

      "A divided U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that California must dramatically reduce its prison population. The justices found that overcrowding in the state's prisons violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment."
      http://www.npr.org/2011/05/24/136599887/california-ordered-to-reduce-prison-population

      Taking some action in support of prisoners in California would call attention to the problem nationwide.

      That said, I believe that the real problem is the general public who continue to ask for more and more laws, out of fear, even though crime in the US after 9/11 has declined to the lowest levels in decades.

      "Hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County fell to the lowest level in 21 years..."
      "At the year’s midway point, crime rates in Los Angeles generally have continued their decade-long decline,"
      "Long Beach reported a 40-year low for violent crime in 2012,"
      "Officials say that in spite of budget cuts and an understaffed police force, L.A.'s crime rate reached a 50-year low." the source of these headlines is the LA Time.

      The man who may run against Gov. Brown, former LT Gov. Maldonado used fear as a selling point against any effort on the part of Gov. Brown to address the need to reduce the prison population.
      "Mr. Maldonado, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, told the paper, that this issue threatens the lives of Californians.

      "This notion of families being afraid to go out on the street, being afraid of parking garages, families who are just afraid," he said. "The governor uses a fancy word called realignment. At the end of the day, it's early release.... A shell game is what it is."

      However, the evidence backing Mr. Maldonado's claims are questionable, at best."
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      Jul 22 2013: Idea: Ask a local radio talk show to discuss the problem and provide this discussion as a resource.

      I just forward the link of this conversation to The Mark Johnson Show @ WDEV. Waterbury, VT.
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        Jul 23 2013: Theodore,
        Did you get a response? Did they use the information in any way?
  • Jul 16 2013: The purpose of jails is not necessarily to rehabilitate. The purpose of jails is to make money. They are built and often run by private industry and provide cheap labor. The companies Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut run most of the prisons in this country. They receive a fixed payment for each prisoner meaning the cheaper they can run the prison the more profits they make. The more people in jail the more money they make.

    Why don't prisons rehabilitate? Because that is not what they are paid to do.
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    Jul 12 2013: Prisons are like graduate schools for crime. Something round 70% of people that come out of prison end up back in prison whether for the same type of crime or worse. Bottom line is when humans are put in stressful situations (prison being one of the most stressful), adverse behaviours start to arise, as in the case with people going into jail/prison, it strengthens that adverse behaviour.

    If we want to stop the violence/crime, we have to look at the social, and economic environment the person(s) are growing up in. Instead of treating the behaviour we need to focus on what are causing those behaviours. And that's when people start to look away and say it is either "genetics" or "moral perversion", when in reality humans are social creatures and the way our nervous system (brain) functions depends very well on social relationships we have in our early and adolescent development.

    So for conclusion, Prisons will never work because they are attempting to control behaviour, when in reality, behaviours are a result of relationships within the social environment (or lack of). If a plant grew abnormally would you punish that plant? of course not. You would look at where, during the development of the plant, did certain aspects lack (like water, soil ect.), and humans are no different.
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        Jul 12 2013: incorrect? "Among nearly 300,000 prisoners released in 15 states in 1994, 67.5% were rearrested within 3 years" - there you go

        And the first point was only people on parole just for that one year. "Of these parolees, about 16% were returned to incarceration in 2007" - and that's just one year! imagine the % in the following...it'll be much higher i assure you.

        Regardless, looking over the past century, not only has the legal system failed in abolishing abnormal behaviour, violence, and crime, it has also increased incarcerations dramatically. Which is not a reflection of progress at all.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._incarceration_rates_1925_onwards.png
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          Jul 12 2013: This might be a better, or additional, link to the research you are citing. It explains that the research followed all the released prisoners in the states that agreed to participate, it indicates which states those were, that the records from those 15 states accounted for 2/3 of the prisoners released that year in the US, and other aspects of the methodology from which one might judge the external validity, or representativeness of the conclusions; http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=270
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        Jul 12 2013: So? whats your point? i know the population is much bigger than what i stated above.. and the link i sent was about increases in the rate of incarceration, not recidivism, hense the word "regardless"

        If your implying that the percentage of re-convictions would be lower if they took into account the entire prison system then that's a different story. But i would highly doubt that considering the consistency in rising incarceration rates over the past century or so.
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        Jul 12 2013: lol i fully understand what you mean man and believe me i would be typing like a machine if i actually got defensive :P

        But just one more thing, you never corrected my point, you sent me a link that had a few statistics for a few years, in which one of the points was very close to my hypothesis (even though it was for only a small amount of the prison pop.) But either way it was nice discussion *thumbs up*
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    Jul 11 2013: TT, I have worked in the prison system in Arizona and cannot speak for others. We have the death penalty, hard time, probation and at one time SHOCK ... that was a strict military type environment with many rules and conditions. We have level 5 (most dangerous) to level 1 (least). I worked in MAX LEVEL 5. I worked there 20 years. I would love to tell you there is a simple or even correct answer ... there is not. Your question "Do jails (Gaols) rehabilitate" .. That is not normally the job of the institution ... people are placed in prison to separate them from society for the time determined by a judge and jury of their peers. In our state we are required to provide GEDs training. There are a few other programs offered ... but to define any of the above as rehabilitation would be IMO false. We are funded for to ensure they are kept in custody.

    Many on this site argue that it should not be illegal to smoke weed ... that those who are in the country illegally are not criminals ... and many other arguments ... the fact remains that currently these actions ARE illegal. It does not stop them from smoking or entering illegally into the country. They do it because they want to. Laws be damned. A prisoner killed another ... he said he deserved to die. It was his third murder (that I know of) one outside and two inside. Of hundreds or thousands of murders each year maybe only 10 meet the death penalty. The odds are more in their favor of not being put to death. Even if given the death penalty by a jury they will live years in prison and the chance of the penalty being reduced is greater than execution.

    The truth is we do not have a speedy trial ... punishment is not harsh ... there is little fear of the system .... and chances are that you will be released three or four time before you are punished. A story recently claimed that a woman had over 50 DUI's was going to jail.

    If any system "worked" we would not be having this talk
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    Jul 20 2013: Of course they do. They habilitate people for more jail. Jail is where you learn to be a much better criminal. You learn all the tricks of the trade and you learn a lot of other trades while you are in there and teach all you know to others interested in your particular specialty. If you are a violent criminal then you also get in better shape so when you come out you can be much more violent and do a lot more damage. You practice on beating up on other criminals and nobody cares as long as you don't make to much noise and disturb the other who are meditating and saying prayers. The guards don't care in fact they will bring you guys they don't like so you can beat them up and then drag them back to there cell.
    Let me put it this way in case you have never been to jail. Jail in nice version of Hell. Rehabilitation is just a joke to get more money from the taxpayer into the prison system and some eye candy (ladies) for the guys.
    Oh and by the way in case you have any delusions, the jails are not run by the wardens they are run by the local mafia, syndicate, gang or whoever is running organized crime in the area, who themselves are more times than not in the same prison.
  • Jul 18 2013: Other commenters have already pointed out that rehabilitation is not the goal of the American prison system and I agree.

    I'll just say one thing about deterrence – punishment of any kind does not work as a deterrent and never will. There was a talk on TED a while ago about a psychological phenomenon called the "optimism bias." It explained that it's human nature for people to believe they will be successful at whatever they do. That includes criminal acts. You can only be punished for a crime if you're caught, and if people honestly believed they would be caught, they would not commit the crime in the first place. Therefore punishment cannot possibly work as a deterrent.
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    Jul 14 2013: The clash of heinous crime with the modern version of human rights legislation means that rehabilitation of the perpetrators is seldom achieved in jail. Proper, civilized rehab would work even for serious offenders, but would be too costly to the taxpayer for education, psychological treatment and many other treatments that might rehabilitate prisoners back into society.

    The cheaper, less civilized option is punishment - to remove criminals from society, lock them up and throw away the keys. Whilst this appeals to the more visceral forms of 'justice', it has no place in civilized society in my opinion because it is a 'deterrent only' option; once in that loop it is impossible to get out, even if the will is there to do so.

    In the UK, many criminals regularly reoffend, safe in the knowledge that they will be treated very nicely indeed with very little in the way of deterrent or rehabilitation during repeated prison sentences. Many homeless people even turn to crime just to get a prison roof over their head, a bed, and free meals.

    Like many human ills, we are approaching it the wrong way and looking in the wrong place, in my opinion. Many ills and many crimes are actually being committed by society on the human condition, and certain individuals react by becoming mentally 'ill', turning to crime, and by becoming hopelessly addicted to drugs.

    If anything, it is the consumerist, money-led society itself that is in dire need of rehabilitation.
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    Jul 13 2013: Not everyone realizes that newly released prisoners are strapped with bills due to court costs, etc. that sabotage their ability to stay out of prison. Throw in the fact they are labelled with a criminal past, and you have a recipe for failure.

    If they can't get a job because of their criminal past they will go back to jail if they don't pay the bill. The only way to get the money is to sell drugs for money, steal money -in essence, commit a crime in order to prevent going back to jail.

    And, this is exactly why most newly released criminals end up back in jail.. Those who are successful and not rearrested, pay the costs and can take their time in some programs in order to find work.

    The only way to stop this trend is to have programs in place to assist them in restructuring their lives and becoming good citizens. To my knowledge, no such programs exists in any state in the US.

    It's all about the money.
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    Jul 11 2013: I prefer rehabilitation to incarceration; but incarceration is preferable to nothing . . . even probation. Some people, like those who commit DUI are just careless to the point of stupidity. It is stupid to drink & drive. That is a crime that should have a penalty. Repeat offenses justifiably earn jail time. Drug possession/use is less a criminal offense than it is a health issue. But the most severely addicted often support their drug habits by stealing. Drug dealing should be a felony, especially if the drugs wind up in the hands of minors/children. There are so many different offenses.

    Ideally, every identified criminal would learn a new set of law-abiding behaviors. The criminal would learn how to get along in society without committing crime. If the rehabilitation program worked, make it work for everyone. Lots of research has been done as to what does & does not work. We need to focus on the programs that work and the plans that rehabilitate.

    Just locking people up inside the modern equivalent of a dungeon seems counter productive. At best it is unscientific. But those prisons that effectively deter crime and successfully rehabilitate (either by deterrence or other psychological means) - are worth evaluation.

    Hey, crime has always been with us. For as long as there have been people on the Earth, there have been criminals. And for as long as there have been cities, we've needed jails/prisons to lock up those who prey upon others. Some solutions have worked & do work. Some don't. Let's do more of what WORKS for a change!
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    Jul 11 2013: Jails produce professional criminals. Only violent people should go to prison.
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    Jul 22 2013: I will add this and hope that more people give it a listen:

    For the past two weeks, thousands of California inmates in solitary confinement have been protesting conditions in security housing units with a hunger strike. Among the demands: that a photograph be allowed in the cell, and that counseling and more nutritious food be provided.

    Host Dick Gordon speaks with Steven Czifra, who has been out of prison for a decade but is participating in the hunger strike in solidarity. Czifra spent eight years in solitary confinement starting when he was 14 years old. At one point, he spent a whole year without ever leaving his cell. “I think the point is to crack people,” he says. "They don’t care if you go crazy."

    http://www.thestory.org/stories/2013-07/hunger-strike-protest-across-california
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    Jul 20 2013: I don't think jails rehabilitate.
    But I do think there are organizations, and individuals, who do care for prisoner reform, and do take the time to visit the prisons in order to speak to, and educate the men and women in prison to life choices.

    Just yesterday, I watched a former prisoner get interviewed about how she benefitted from one such program, and how her life is now totally different than it was before.

    This is the program I am familiar with.....
    Coincidently, this video was posted this week.
    It is short, but it goes directly to answering your question:

    http://www.jw.org/en/news/by-region/americas/united-states/video-clip-bible-truth-helping-prisoners/
  • Jul 20 2013: The only benefit that comes with this kind of punishment, is we can enjoy watching the reality television serious "Breakout" that airs on the National Geographic Channel.
    it is recommended !
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    Jul 19 2013: An audio visual presentation on the dancing inmates of Cebu, Philippines.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlqxl0na0qY

    CEBU Dancing Inmates

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZC6JuTlOVM
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      Jul 20 2013: I love your positive attitude Theodore but I am guessing you have never been inside a prison. It's a lot different on the inside looking out. I saw those videos years ago and they are hilarious, thanks for sharing them again.
      On the serious side if they really want to help the best way is to rehab them before they go to prison in a totally different rehab environment. Once they are in prison they all come out with doctorate degrees in there preferred criminal activity, if they live.
      "That which does not kill us makes us stronger"- Friedrich Nietzsche
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        Jul 20 2013: Rehabilitate or punish?
        This is indeed a complex problem that I have done a great deal of research on. Take for example the fact that mental illness in the prison population is at least three times the national average. So for me this is not an easy topic to provide a simple answer to.

        I could recommend some books that detail with the cause of the problem:
        "The New Jim Crow: Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander
        "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice" ,by William J. Stuntz

        This report is from 2003 but makes several relevant points.

        "It's not a very good time to be a prisoner in the United States.
        Incarceration is not meant to be fun, of course. But a combination of strict sentencing guidelines, budget shortfalls and a punitive philosophy of corrections has made today's prisons much more unpleasant--and much less likely to rehabilitate their inhabitants--than in the past, many researchers say."

        http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug03/rehab.aspx
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        Jul 20 2013: We might also bring into the discussion the research to two leading neuroscientists, David Eagleman and Michael S. Gazzaniga

        http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/the-brain-on-trial/308520/

        "When a criminal stands in front of the judge’s bench today, the legal system wants to know whether he is blameworthy. Was it his fault, or his biology’s fault?

        I submit that this is the wrong question to be asking. The choices we make are inseparably yoked to our neural circuitry, and therefore we have no meaningful way to tease the two apart. The more we learn, the more the seemingly simple concept of blameworthiness becomes complicated, and the more the foundations of our legal system are strained."

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=neuroscience-in-the-courtroom

        "Today courts rarely admit brain scans as evidence at trial for both legalistic and scientific reasons. As neuroscience matures, however, judges may increasingly see such scans as relevant to arguments about a defendant’s mental state or a witness’s credibility.
        The greatest influence of brain science on the law may eventually come from deeper understanding of the neurological causes of antisocial, illegal behaviors. Future discoveries could lay the foundation for new types of criminal defenses, for example."
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        Jul 20 2013: The final comment for now.
        This is a link that touches upon many issues regarding incarceration that many commenting here might not consider. Please have a look.

        http://www.sentencingproject.org/template/index.cfm
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          Jul 20 2013: I looked over several of your links and they paint a pretty grim picture because most of the focus is on what to do with prisoners already in the system which to me is already to late. I am focused upon one question: Why do people turn violent?
          They are not born that way. They all come out soft and cuddly. Smiling and laughing endlessly. Full of joy and promise.

          I believe it starts with the first thing they see, the parents they bond with and immediately associate with food. Are they loving and kind or are they arguing over the bills already. Do you get natural breast milk full of everything you need to develop or do they force a piece of plastic in your mouth and fill you with toxic chemicals.

          Now we are talking about things that really matter a lot. If you want to talk about prison reform let's talk about things we can actually change with a very little investment. Things that will pay dividends for the next hundred years. Let's take all those billions of dollars we waste on prison systems and invest it in creating a nurturing environment for our kids! Can you imagine what kind of top notch facilities we could build and the professional help we could put at the disposal of all parents. We could and should put baby deliveries in another building away from the toxic hospital full of disease, noise, drug traffic, violence and politics. Let them be born in a pleasant atmosphere with fresh air surrounded by both parents and the very best baby care available and every parent can use the facility.

          You wonder why our youth are already turning violent at a young age? Have a look at what they are born into. There parents can not afford rent, little own the cost of a healthy child. They are already saddled with debt from college, a home and a car. The power bills are almost as high as there rent and the drugs the doctors have them on are costing more than the mortgage.

          Wake up America? Focus - Think
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          Jul 20 2013: Theodore and Keith,
          Maybe they ARE born that way! There is a lot of research connecting genes with violence and criminal behaviors.
          I just googled "genetic research - criminal behavior", and these are the first 4 that popped up.......there is a ton of information about this topic.

          http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2012/1/24-15201_Criminologists-Research-Shows-Genes-Influence-Crim_article-wide.html

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/26/genes-criminal-behavior-linked_n_1234423.html

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1332927/New-research-suggests-criminal-behaviour-genes.html

          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/20/arts/genetics-and-crime-at-institute-of-justice-conference.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          All of that being said, perhaps this goes back to the question of nature/nurture? I agree Keith, that there are some things we may be able to do early in a child's life.

          It is a FABULOUS idea to use the money we invest in prison systems and use it creating nurturing environments for our kids! Our prison/correction systems are not working, and we have known they are not working for a very long time. And yet, we keep building more and more of these systems? What's wrong with this picture???

          I totally agree....wake up...focus....think!!! Then, of course, we need to be engaged with the process:>)
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        Jul 20 2013: Re: "Why do people turn violent? "

        The short answer, we don't know.

        "What has neuroscience uncovered about the capacity of the person who shot Giffords, the person responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and many others (yet still a small percentage of people) to behave so violently?
        What happens in these individuals is that their cognitive control mechanisms are deranged. Mind you, these individuals are not out-of-control, enraged people. They just use their cognitive control mechanisms in the service of a disturbed goal. There are probably a multitude of factors at play here. The subject is exposed to influences that lead him or her to violent acts—including, unfortunately, not only the violent political rhetoric but also the media coverage of similar acts, as we are doing here. A variety of issues, especially mental health problems that lead to social isolation, lead the subject to a mental state that alters his or her ability to exercise cognitive control in a healthy manner. The cognitive control capacities of the subject get somewhat redirected—we don't quite understand how—toward goals and activities that are violent in a very specific way. Not the violent outburst of somebody who has "lost it" in a bar, punching people right and left. The violence is channeled in a very specific plan, with a very specific target—generally fed by the media through some sort of rhetoric, political or otherwise—with very specific tools, in the Giffords case, a 9-millimeter Glock."

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=anger-management-self-control


        But I hear you regarding changing the environment for our kids. Stuart Brown's TED talk explains the importance of PLAY in a child's life, and he stared out studying criminals.
        http://www.ted.com/talks/stuart_brown_says_play_is_more_than_fun_it_s_vital.html

        I'll add this TEDTalk by David R Dow who was kind enough to write me.
        http://www.ted.com/talks/david_r_dow_lessons_from_death_row_inmates.html
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          Jul 20 2013: Why do people turn violent? The Answer!

          Here is an analogy: Engines are built for a particular fuel. They need that particular fuel to run at optimum performance. If they do not get the proper fuel they will lose performance, break down and eventually stop working. Human engines are no different. There are built to run on a diet that is 80% water like fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables also contain all the other ingredients besides water needed to keep our bodies healthy. When we introduce other than optimum fuel to our bodies they react in the same way any other engine would. The first reaction is to become ill and lose performance which if not corrected usually ends up killing the engine.
          The core function of the brain is self-preservation, so the more toxic our fuel intake is, the more it reacts with sickness and violence the only tools it has to get our attention.
          Look around you at your family and friends, look at all the sickness and violence in the world. Has it got your attention yet?
          "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new"- Socrates

          In order to change the world I must change myself. (JUST DO IT)
          When it comes to health I have heard women all my life say "eat your fruits and vegetables" but I have never heard you say "eat your fruit and drink your vegetables". Men love to drink, have you noticed that? Raw vegetables are sturdy so they need to spend some time in a juicer or blender before you can drink them. If you cook them you might as well throw them out because you just killed the healthy properties of the vegetable. We need raw vegetables to stay healthy. You will never have a problem getting us to eat fruit, it's easy, delicious and drinking it is even easier. Don't forget we love to drink.
          "We covet what we see everyday"- Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the lambs
          Wouldn't it be nice if we coveted raw fresh fruits and vegetables???
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        Jul 20 2013: Keith,
        You mention in a couple comments on this thread...getting to them BEFORE they are hardened criminals who have gotten a Ph.D. in criminology while in jail! I totally agree.

        Theodore probably knows this, because we are in the same state, and these programs, or similar programs are used in other states as well.

        "Diversion", based on the "Real Justice" model, which is a pre-court program for young, first time offenders. It usually involves education and community service, depending on the level of offence. There is no jail time, and no court record if the offender stays out of trouble. This has been operating in the state for many years, and seems to be effective for many of the participants.

        "Reparative", also based on the "Real Justice" model, is post court, ordered by the court for offenders who appear to the court to be receptive to the program. It also encourages and/or requires education, community service, some kind of reparative process, which may include physical labor, financial restitution, etc.
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          Jul 20 2013: Colleen thanks for sharing your wisdom and I agree than the programs you mentioned are better than prison if there is any chance for rehab. I am proof that rehab does work, I faced one hundred years in the slammer for marijuana charges. Is that justice, 100 years for growing very useful and healthy plants(18ft)?
          I have always been very good at solving problems and although it took me 40+ years to find the answer to the what I think is the most important question in the world, I believe I have the correct answer.
          First the question: What is causing all this violence in the world?
          The answer is overwhelmingly linked to diet.
          Now the answer to hereditary genes is simply this: Yes, that is also a factor but the reason our gene pool is getting bad is also diet, thousands of years of bad diet. I am 100% convinced of it and I am not alone. There are now hundreds of scientists and doctors who will back up this claim. If that interests you or Theodore here are two links that will back up everything I have said: http://leftinthedark.org.uk/ or http://beyond-belief.org.uk/
          Tony also has a free pdf copy of his book on his site for download or you can buy his book and help support his work.
          I met Tony on facebook and we have been friends for several years now. I have done information gathering and advised him in ways to propagate his book, work and science. I have also tried in vain to get him to shrink his 2 or 3 hour lectures to 18 minutes so we can get him on the TED stage where he belongs. He is very shy but has been getting better as he lectures at Vegan communities in the USA and Europe. I have also tried to get him to redo his book in layman's terms so the general public can easily understand his claim and I hear that is in the works.
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        Jul 22 2013: Thanks for sharing your stories and wisdom as well Keith!

        I think everything is probably linked to diet......we are what we eat? One thing research seems to be showing us is that most kids who are automatically put on behavior altering drugs, are often consuming large quantities of sugar. Decrease the intake of sugar, and it may solve some of the behavior challenges.

        I would not say that diet is the only cause, but it certainly contributes.....a LOT...I agree...not only to behaviors, but also to illness and dis-ease.
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      Jul 20 2013: Good videos on the "dancing inmates" Theodore.....that is a GREAT idea. Many of the guys I worked with have a great deal of energy and creativity, so dancing would give them an outlet for pent up energy, it provides creativity, team work, accountability and responsibility. I imagine they have to behave themselves to be able to participate in those programs.

      The message in the one video where they are speaking while dancing is also important, and something I heard quite a lot..."they don't really care about us".

      Unfortunately, many of the guys incarcerated are drug and/or alcohol dependent (about 95% of those incarcerated), and many of them have been abused and sexually used as children. Not a good start to the life experience!
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    Jul 18 2013: Thankyou everyone for some very thoughtful posts. It seems that in general, I could sum up the following,

    1. It is better to prevent people from circumstances that lead to a life of crime.

    2. Time, reflection and lack of freedom in jail create the rehabilitation.

    3. Prisons are not designed to rehabilitate and may in fact create more crime (with the exception of point 2)

    Does anyone else have some bullet points to add?

    My purpose then is to thru this medium to provide our collective group BEST answers to each bullet point, with the ideal of creating a good as it gets society blueprint to diminish criminal behaviour and rehabilitation for those who still find themselves incarcerated, if it is possible. Also identify how to, for those impossible to rehabilitate, options to keep them away from society so society will be safer.
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      Jul 18 2013: Understanding madness of (private prison ownership) is crucial to understanding the barbarity,+ ineffectiveness of the prison system. It extends to the destructive mechanism poisoning our entire government. That is wholesale (Privatization)! Those that are fond of that concept, who think i'm anti business shouldn't make that mistake. Ben Franklin was my hero, an amazing scholar,humorist, the most pragmatic entrepreneur that ever lived. He would have immediately seen the folly in the privatization of (justice) which is after all what we're talking about here. This doesn't mean, that private industry shouldn't play a roll, and make a profit off aspects of the system. Rather we need to understand a crucial point. That is, the collective responsibility, we all share, to (govern all human beings living within our borders, and sphere of influence). We suffer both individually,and collectively from the offenses of convicts. We as individuals, naturally shrink from the horrors, and suffering of crimes, criminals who perpetrate them, even the victims. Sadly it is a task, and a reality that none of us can afford to ignore. The condition of our prison system, and our broken justice system is in our hands, and should remain so. Those who cling to the fantasy that privatization is the panacea for all our woes, are living in a fools sinking paradise. We now have a dangerous, viral, self preserving, hidden world of vast expenditures, + unbelievable barbarity. It is a self replicating nightmare. The (Prison Industrial Complex) costs (U.S.) at least $228,000,000,000 billion dollars per year. Privatization is bankrupting us,+ we are recreating the fearful beasts of our nightmares, by allowing the mindless monetization of human suffering, for victims,and criminals alike, while expanding the madness that often fostered the crime in the first place. We have no choice as a society, and as individuals, but to deal soberly with the horrors directly to feel the weight of our decisions.
  • Jul 16 2013: There are ways to rehabilitate without jails. If we only had the political will to do so we can achieve it.
  • Jul 15 2013: In my opinion, though prison systems vary worldwide, each has its own set of rules and routines. These routines are critical to inmates for the purpose of anchoring them to daily habits, which undoubtedly effects their sanity - as in the case of "Pavalov's Dog". People tend to fear the unexpected, such as the case when you change the routine within a correctional facility. Regardless of design, inmates will break the rules. I don't believe it's possible to create a perfect solution for rehabilitating criminal behavior.

    In America, prison systems are overcrowding, as the economy strains to pay the cost of "rehabilitation". Everyone wants to save money, and questions the rehabilitation process. The bottom line question people seem to ask is "If an inmate is rehabilitated in 20 years, why can't we save money by rehabilitating him/her in 10?"

    I believe in the future, we will see prosecution for drug offenses in decline. We will see more serious criminals sentenced to less time in order to lift correctional budgets. In fashion with community policing efforts, we will also see more "community corrections" programs where offenders check in periodically to stay on the straight and narrow.
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    Jul 15 2013: Rehablitation with incarceration and isolation

    can never be better than


    Rehab with freedom and involvement.
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    Jul 15 2013: Jails may not be the perfect system for rehab

    BUT

    Jails gives time to the individuals as well as to the society to think and alter ways.
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    Jul 14 2013: It is a vogue started from the invention of the world as the penalty of committing immoral activity in the society.
    Why don't we ask to our own conscience about the effect of the punishment after committing a crime more or less affective.?
    I know some people in my community, who started a new life of prosperity after coming back from jail. However, i saw opposite effect two.
    Most importantly, it depends on the environment of the jail and the mind of the prisoner.
    To wind up, it is helpful more or less whatever it is.
  • Jul 13 2013: 1: Jails currently do not rehabilitate, with some few exceptions. This is not always the fault of jails but of societies that have no transition from jails. Once you are convicted, you have a life sentence, no matter what the court says. Compounding matters is the human jungle environment of most US prisons. The so-called "military" style is not actually military, but the way prisons used to be run. However, this is expensive and you incur the risk of having liberals sue you left and right for not letting the prisoners run everything. That being said, at least the stricter prisons (if run FAIRLY) will give someone better tools to deal with the lifetime disadvantage of having been convicted. The problem is that most people will not be bright enough to understand that what the convicts benefit from is NOT from being "ridden hard" all the time. What they benefit from is learning that rules can be useful, that society does not have to only be rule of the strong, and that there are benefits from learning to get along. However, if the "military" style is just used as an excuse to abuse convicts, you will turn out the most hardened and unbreakable recidivists.

    2: Castration will not stop child molesters. They will simply use other methods to act out their disease.
  • Jul 13 2013: No , they don't , now. Yes they were effective in the last century. The human behaviour has been also on the change.

    To make them effective , we have to keep in line with the human behaviour. The aim of the human have become more important, without considering the cost or the effect. If Human achieve there goal they will pay any price ( Human bomb}
    To make them effective , we have to redesign our punishment system. The Capital punishment system has to be abolished , as it only relives one, of the worldly suffering. The Only effective way of punishment, which can rely work & make the person think twice , before committing crimes, is the physiological mental torture . The person convicted , should be fed well , in the day & left in cage on top of the post in summer day & kept in the jail in the night , similarly in winter, he should be left out in the night in cage & kept inside the jail in day. This system . though inhuman, can give us result. We have changed & accepted so many thing , like same sex marriage , so we have to accept this to tone up our society
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    Jul 12 2013: Our present system does not rehabilitate. The short reason is, it deals with humans.
    We jail people for breaking the law.
    We are not sufficiently knowlegeable in the process of the human mind.
    Adaptability to jail conditions is favourable to long term habitation (addiction)
    Let us not mistake that those that are realeased that do not recommit have been rehabilitated, they probably would not recommit even if they had not been incarcerated, it is, "I made a grave mistake"
    The law is not black and white but, much grey area exists. The crown must deal with the black and white. The problem with the grey area is due to interpretation.
    The law is far from being perfect but, it is the best we have.
    I must also point out that, it is through trial and error that we have evolved to what we are now, like it or not. :)
    We are all human beings. We must remember what is a crime in one part of the world may not be a crime on another.
    To come back to the question. Try to imagine what it would be like in a world without crime. All laws made by man obeyed. Does this sound like black and white? Yes, to me it does! .... Unfortunately you cannot put parameters to crime so that they would only be petty ones. It is part of who we are so, real hardcore criminals I believe do not rehabilitate

    Cheers
    btw. This conversation is not a simple one, the TED community could write each a book on the subject and still not come up with a universal understandind because we are constantly changing. ;)
  • Bob Gu

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    Jul 12 2013: if they offer the psychological and philosophical help needed. Than yes. But if the inmates require solitude to reflect than that may accomodate to some
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    Jul 12 2013: Thankyou everyone for your contributions, they do make for interesting and inciteful reading.

    I remember hearing of a recent (present?) Mayor of New York who adopted a zero broken windows policy (along those lines). Effectively it meant that harsh action was taken against those who committed relatively minor misdemeanors, such as throwing rocks and breaking windows.

    I believe that the consequence of this approach then led to less people taking the path to higher level criminal activity and so in this instance would align with a prevention better than the cure approach!

    Am I analysing this to mean that rehabilitation then means that, it needs to be done before prison? Tracking along the thought lines of before the events, dare I say, there is enough psychological profiling to know what ticks in the boxes are most likely to lead to a criminal path and so what sort of preventative measures are in place or what could/should they be? : D