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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 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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