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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 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."

      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?

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