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Redefine the term "rehabilitation" in context of prison

The way I understand it, prisons are established for three reasons. 1. Deterrance: fear of getting caught keeps people from committing crime. 2) segregation: Keep people who have harmed others from doing it again. 3) Rehabilitation: the idea that the criminal will change in some way so to not break the law again.

I think the idea of deterrance is good. I also believe deparating criminals is a good idea, but ONLY if they endanger others. I do not believe the current prison system is concerned with rehabilitation. The term needs to be dropped, redefined, or removed. If anything, the prison does worse than rehabilitate.



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    Feb 14 2014: This paper may provide useful reference material as you consider this issue: https://www.ncjrs.gov/criminal_justice2000/vol_3/03d.pdf
    • Feb 14 2014: Thank you. If anything, this material does give a good history in how we have arrived at our current state. It also suggests that implementing a rehabilitation system to reduce recidivism is more complex than lawmakers want to deal with. I believe the biggest loss to our criminal justice system has been the reduction of power from our judges.
    • Feb 14 2014: But the problem remains: overcrowding, dangerous, abusive environment in our prisons. Truly we fail compared to many other countries. Truly it is in dire need of significant overhaul. We are one of the most litigous states in the world, yet we tout freedom. Segregation of criminals is fine when they are a risk to others, but that is truly the only reasonable justification for a lengthy stay. And even then, they should be safe during this time, not subject to sexual torture. Deterrence and reducung recidivism should be approached separately. Likely incarcerarion iis not the best answer.
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        Feb 14 2014: This subject is discussed often on TED. There was also an excellent article in the New York Times in the last couple of weeks on what is being done to address this almost universally recognized problem. I will look for it, but you might also.

        This is not the very recent article I had in mind but is also applicable" http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/us/us-prison-populations-decline-reflecting-new-approach-to-crime.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

        Here is the one I meant: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/opinion/keller-america-on-probation.html
        • Feb 15 2014: Thank you for that piece. I wonder, should we give up on rehabilitation altogether? It does seem a bit condescending. I mean, most criminals are not caught. It is a well known fact that crime does indeed pay. If I were caught for everything I have done, I would be in prison as well. But instead I am a college professor. I did not get caught in my youth. Maybe Deterrence and prevention are more practical. More robust child protective laws, for example. But one thing still digs at me. Most the people in prison are being tortured. They stay there for profound lengths of time, at the directive of a confused system. Most have mental issues. Imagine if you were there, and suffering from social anxiety or depression. Each day is a day in hell, and may continue on simply due to the fear that life after death may be worse. And they are there, right now. You and I put them there, and we don't even have a solid reason for it yet.
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        Feb 15 2014: There is a thread right now hosted by a person who changed his life in prison. You might look for it and seek his input.

        From what is known about habits, these are most difficult to break if you return a person to the milieu with all the forces that created the initial problem or impulses without better tools and choices to make.

        I am not an expert in this area, and I do agree that it is easier to help people avoid bad choices than to change habits later, but I have seen nothing to convince me that rehabilitation cannot be worthwhile and effective. Many people in prisons are there for things that few would consider hardened criminality.

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