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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: I agree that perpetrators of non-violent crimes should not be thrown in with the wolves. What I have a hard time dealing with, is our apathy toward the subject. Many of us take pleasure in knowing a criminal will be abused in prison (as is often the case) or that they will in some way suffer. This is retribution. Rehabilitation is different from retribution. I would want someone to feel remorse and and suffer internally, to understand what they have done. If they are mentally ill, then they should be given the right therapy for that. Prisoners have no voice and are raped, beaten, join gangs, then come out rapists and gang members. How is this rehabilitation? What can we do to improve the "rehabilitation" aspect? Leaving someone to their thoughts is fine, but is it grounded is scholarship? And the rapes, dehumanization, beatings? Are they founded in studies that show some value in rehabilitation?
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      Feb 17 2014: Prison is the end of the line, not an arena to begin a better life. It all has to happen before you're behind bars. I believe grandparents have accumulated all the advice and guidance you'll need. Teachers should be in that mix somewhere except they're probably too tired and underpaid. Wouldn't girlfriends have a justifiable interest in you're being a good guy? Sports team-mates, too?
      Years ago, young delinquents and drop-outs in Maryland (Glen Burnie), were given the choice of prison, army, or pass a GED course (General Education Diploma that represented something similar to a High School Diploma). I was selected to teach that course.
      Being English, I was nothing like the people they ran into every day. I had their attention and I had to keep it. We joked our way through basic mathematics after we had understood geometry, angles, areas, distances, and then came to the blackboard to make the circles and lines into humans and animals engaged in some kind of activity. Sadly but predictably, many were shown holding guns and needles.
      Nevertheless, creativity burst into the room.
      Filled with laughter and eager to go on, we turned to the other half of our curriculum: English. We wrote dialogues for the characters we had drawn; adding scripts of narrators, reviews of the dramas, and finally we held a short story contest. Most of them were autobiographical, of course, some of them brought tears to those street toughs, a sight to see. I declared them all winners and treated them to lunch at a fast-food joint in the mall where our classroom was.
      All 20 of them passed the GED test.
      For three years I traced the futures of my graduates and none crossed the line of the law. Now, that's a diploma worth having.
      • Feb 17 2014: Education is a good thing to look at, because failure here is a precursor to jailtime. But there is a precursor to school. And there is one for the parents that kicked the kids around. And their parents. Some say it's finances, some say since people can't find full-time work, for example, they are left to kick around their kids and smoke crack all day. I can agree with the idle hands maxim. But that's not what this thread is about. It's not about prevention. If you want, I am sure there are plenty of conversations about it on this site. This is concerned with rehabilitation and why it is even mentioned within the context of jail. In my city, it is called the "Justice Center." But if you look, at some point in all the legal transcripts and mission statements, you are going to find that word. And it does not belong there. Jail now is solely for retribution. When someone goes to prison, we rejoice in the fact that they will be raped. Listen to "Date Rape" by Sublime. A very popular and somewhat contemporary tune. All will be well when the criminal is raped. All will be well again. Someone should kick down the door and kick around the guy who kicks around his kids. And then follow those kids till they start kicking around their kids, and then give them some good kicks. We should delegate a secret squad, so that justice will always be done. Deterrence is OK, when people know what the laws are. But they don't. Did you know that you can get seven years for selling LSD? I knew a guy who sold a ten-strip to a cop and his life was over. Pretty harsh. And if you don't think it is, check the laws on drug possession. Have you ever smoked pot? The president did. What if he were caught? He would be a convict. Instead, he was not caught, and is the president. Segregation only makes sense when it is a violent crime. And rehabilitation currently has no place in the rhetoric of criminal justice, because it is false advertising.
        • Feb 17 2014: Andy,

          "...kick down the door and kick around the guy who kicks around ..." will need another kicker to kick the kicker kicker... which basically exacerbates the kicking... its similar to putting out the fire by burning everything down ... I do realize that sometimes a controlled fire can contain and out of control fire...while at the same time recognize that the controlled fire can get out of control! Personally I think there are better ways to contain a fire that need not employ a fire...

          Of course adequate education is a good thing to look at, because it can be a precursor to what happens latter... though each ultimately chooses what to learn from the interactions...

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