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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


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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