Criminal Justice essay resubmision

Title of Essay: What are the strengths and weaknesses of a rehabilitative approach towards offenders? Number of Words:3860 What are the Strengths and weaknesses of a rehabilitative approach towards offenders? In recent years the number of people in prison has risen considerably and looks set to continue creeping upwards. This raises questions over why the figures are rising 0 MODULE LEADER: DR WILL HAY PROGRAMME ADMINISTRATOR: HELEN BUTLER, JACQUI BLOOMFIELD, MICHELLE BLAKE OR AMANDA HARRISON FROM THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION TEAM PROGRAMME CO-ORDINATOR: DR MIKE SHEAF and whether a rehabilitative approach really works.

During the paper I will look at the strengths and weaknesses of a rehabilitative approach. I will also look at the governments Big Society principles, examining if this has any effect on offenders. The Church of England Temperance Society is historically the first probation service to be set up in England and Wales in 1876 (Vanstone, 2004). Its goal was to assist in some police courts, this led from the work that it was originally doing which included working with sinners and drinker’s to reform.

It was seen to be good for their souls, as well as to reduce the harm they would otherwise continue to do to themselves and others, such as their families. The ‘missionaries’ movement plainly belongs in the rehabilitative tradition: a successful outcome was a respectable, self-supporting, abstinent citizen making his way in the world, or a dutiful, thrifty, abstinent wife and mother (Raynor and Robinson 2009) This kind of work was seen as a responsibility of the voluntary sector rather than that of the government, this could be said to be the start of the Big Society.

As Garland (1985) suggested, the early part of the 20th century was already seeing the rise of a ‘penal-welfare complex’ which, among other developments, began to involve the state as a key factor in the business of rehabilitating offenders. No longer was the offender to be rehabilitated to save a soul for God; instead, he or she was to be helped towards ‘competence, character and usefulness’ in the service of the proper collective goals of a secular State – a good citizen rather than merely a good person (Raynor and Robinson 2009). 1 The goal of rehabilitation is to address the underlying factors that led to the criminal behaviour and by so doing, reducing the likelihood of re-offending. However, it is precisely this objective that is generally not being met by imprisonment.

On the contrary, evidence shows that prisons not only rarely rehabilitate, but they tend to further criminalise individuals, leading to re-offending and a cycle of release and imprisonment, which does nothing to reduce overcrowding in prisons or to build safer communities. Rehabilitation is the idea of reforming a prisoner so that they can reintegrate back into society upon their release. This process involves various programs including anger management, educational programs and even creative workshops to form another outlet for expression.

It is hoped that through this process they will become less inclined to commit crimes in the future. It seeks to prevent a person from reoffending by taking away the desire to offend. This is very different from the idea of ‘deterrence’ (which is the idea of making him afraid to offend, though he may still desire to), and the idea of ‘incapacitation’ (which is the idea of taking away his physical power to offend, though he may still desire to and be unafraid to) however even under these theories the assumption is that after the offender has spent their time, they will be much less of a threat to society, can be released and will not reoffend.

‘Taking away the desire to offend is the aim of reformist or rehabilitative punishment. The objective of reform or rehabilitation is to reintegrate the offender 2 into society after a period of punishment, and to design the content of the punishment so as to achieve this’ (Hudson, 2003: 26). As Raynor and Robinson (2009) note, this statement raises a number of issues. Firstly there seem to be at least two objectives in play here: ‘taking away the desire to offend’ (that is, somehow changing the offender) and reintegration into society (that is, somehow changing his or her relationship with and status in society).

Correctional rehabilitation, they argue, is concerned with effecting positive change in individuals. As such it is the model most commonly associated with treatment programs or other forms of offence- or offender-focused intervention. At its heart is the notion that many offenders can change for the better, given the right support. The idea of correction implies that the offender can and should be ‘normalised’ or ‘resocialised’ in line with commonly accepted (though rarely explicitly articulated) standards of behaviour Raynor and Robinson (2009).

The rehabilitative ideal shows a compassionate self-consciousness on the part of the punishing state. Criminal behaviour is not simply an evil to be responded to, but a sign that something has gone wrong for the individual as well as for society, and the state’s humane response is for intervention to put things right. It aims to re-model the offender’s personality through counselling so as to socialise him, rendering him responsive to normative control. Without rehabilitation in the corrective experience, in particularly prison, might lead to an increase in the desire to offend rather than reducing it.

Rehabilitative considerations commonly lead the court to impose a reduced sentence. However, since a rehabilitative approach involves an attempt by 3 the court to find a sentence which is most likely to induce reform, a rehabilitative sentence may sometimes appear to be more severe than a sentence imposed following some other approach. A humanist notion of rehabilitation would be to reduce, if not abolish, any punitive effects of imprisonment.

Rehabilitation must be carefully distinguished from specific deterrence. A modern approach to rehabilitation separates from the goals of punishment. It extends beyond what behavioural psychologist would call negative reinforcement (imprisonment acting as a deterrent from criminal behaviour). Rehabilitation now encompasses a broad spectrum of constructive interventions, positive human services and opportunities that are believed to reduce offender’s involvement in criminal activity. Its relationship with imprisonment is only to counteract the latter’s harmful effects of finding ways to avoid it altogether. It could be argued that in some exceptional cases prison may actually act as a respite from inmate’s involvement in crime. Interrupting a criminal career has, however, little benefit without the creation of purposeful rehabilitative environments.

Therefore rehabilitation now strives, not only, to transform the dissocialising prison environment, but also to replace institutional confinement with non-custodial alternatives as far as possible. Conversely it may be argued that as undesirable behaviours are suppressed while the individual is imprisoned, there may be opportunity for the offender to participate in rehabilitative projects such as social skills and educational programs to learn acceptable alternative behaviours as an alternative to crime (Sanson, 1995).

It has 4 been suggested that rehabilitation is more effective at reducing reoffending than punishment (Birgden, 2008) and that the most effective way to produce behavioural change is not to simply suppress the inappropriate behaviours, but promote socially acceptable ones (Blackman, 1996). Rehabilitation attempts to bring about individual changes in offenders, and is sometimes expressed as offender treatment (Palmer et al, 2009), and rehabilitative projects can be used both for offenders while imprisoned, and as sentences for offenders who have committed crimes not worthy of imprisonment.

Rehabilitation of offenders as a means of treatment and addressing relapse behaviours can be implemented using a number a methods, which attempt to address core issues within the offender (McGuire, 2002). There are many proposed reasons why individuals become criminals, and Joseph (2001) found that both genetic and environmental factors play significant roles in the individual differences associated with criminal and antisocial behaviour.

For example, it has been highlighted that a stable family environment may minimise predisposition to crime, and that development of criminal behaviour was correlated with poor family communication and weak bonds (Garnefski & Okma, 1996). It has also been suggested that childhood victimization leads to development of personality disorders later in life (Widom, 1994). These factors may contribute to the fact that offenders have failed to learn socially appropriate behaviours, and therefore may benefit from rehabilitation projects using techniques such as cognitive-behavioural modification to attempt to help offenders face the consequences of their actions and develop new ways to control their behaviour (McGuire, 2002).

5 Current models of rehabilitation, particularly those based on social learning theory and often delivered through ‘programmes’ (McGuire, 2002), aim to empower offenders to take more control of their lives and behaviour, and to make more pro social choices by helping them to learn necessary skills, such as listening and communication, critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, self-management and self-control. Such approaches recognize problems in relation to resources and opportunities, but see little point in improving access to these without also ensuring that people have or develop the necessary skills to benefit from them.

The prison environment is characterised by factors which can have adverse effects on individual inmates. In the prison setting, crowding is inevitable, individuals prone to anti-social behaviour are gathered together, there is an absence of personal control and idleness and boredom can be prevalent. Research has indicated that overcrowding has three major effects on the average prison inmate. Firstly, resources become limited, the same amount of supplies and the same amount of space has to be stretched even further than normal.

The opportunities for inmates to participate in self-improvement and rehabilitative programs, such as academic, employment and vocational training are curtailed. The lack of work and work opportunities lead to inmate idleness, through this idleness discontent and disruptive behaviour becomes more frequent (Cox et al, 1984). McGuire, (2000) further indicates that the frustration or unpleasantness of being limited or denied basic 6 resources coupled with the competition and conflict over these scarce resources often lead to aggression and violence.

The second effect of overcrowding is linked intrinsically with the first effect and the individual’s behaviour. Overcrowding creates stress and this, in conjunction with other factors in a prison setting, can heighten the adverse effects of prison overcrowding. Idleness, fear, the inability to maintain personal identity or to turn off unwanted interaction and stimuli, such as noise, all add to the stress of overcrowding. The adjustment for inmates to cope with excessive levels of stress varies; it could be withdrawal, aggression or depression. The impact on social relations and interaction has been considered one of the most important effects of prison overcrowding.

Findings have indicated that in crowded situations there is heightened aggression and competition for resources, less cooperation and more social withdrawal. Social withdrawal in response to overcrowding manifests itself in various ways, this may take the form of adopting a defensive or guarded attitude, this, by its nature, decreases the quality of social interaction and therefore rehabilitation. Johnson (1991) also highlighted that conversations in crowded settings tend to be less personal or self-relevant, even among well-acquainted people.

The third effect involves a combination of the penal system’s inability to meet the increased demand for more space and the resulting harm to individual inmates. Cox et al (1984) noted that in an attempt to cope with limited space there has been a tendency to misclassify offenders, offenders would be classified on the basis of available space rather than by the offence they had committed or the programs that 7 would be most suitable to that offender. If the assignment of inmates is carried out solely on the basis of available space, inmates are being manipulated to meet the requirements of the penal system rather than the environment and programs being modified to meet the requirements of the inmates.

This hinders progress of the offenders, especially with respect to rehabilitation. Clements (1982) also indicated that through misclassification inmates may be labelled in a manner that further hinders their rehabilitative progress. Restorative justice is an approach to crime that involves bringing the victims and offenders together as well as including the community in the decision-making process of how a crime should be dealt with so that victims become the centrepiece of the justice system whilst putting criminals in a more accountable position by “facing” their crime (Home Office 2009).

Unlike the Criminal Justice System (CJS) that tends to take a more punitive and negative approach, restorative justice seeks positive outcomes and is intended to be respectful, build self-esteem, and re- integrate youths into the community (RJC 2008). This approach is also intended to develop a “working community that supports the rehabilitation of offenders and victims and is active in preventing crime” (Kearns 2004).

It could be said that this approach would then help the offender think more deeply about the crime and make it seem more real by interacting with the victim so that it might enable the offender to take a different and more positive pathway with their decisions and actions (Home Office 2009). When looking at proven reoffending rates in both England and Wales In the 12 months ending September 2010, around 660,000 offenders were cautioned, 8 convicted (excluding immediate custodial sentences) or released from custody. Around 170,000 of these offenders committed a proven re-offence within a year. This gives a one-year proven re-offending rate of 26. 5 per cent, which represents no change when compared to the previous 12 months and a fall of 1. 3 percentage points since 2000 (Table 1).

These re-offenders committed an average of 2. 85 re-offences each. In total, this represents around 500,000 re-offences of which 80. 3 per cent were committed by adults and 19. 7 per cent were committed by juveniles (Table 1). 54. 5 per cent (around 270,000) were committed by re-offenders with 25 or more previous offences. 9 0. 7 per cent (around 3,200) was serious violent/sexual proven re-offences. 5. 2 per cent (around 26,000) were committed by re-offenders on the Prolific and other Priority Offender Programme (PPO). Ministry of Justice (2012).

In Britain, where rehabilitation has long been reported to stop re-offending, 58 per cent of those over-21 find themselves in trouble with the law within two years of release. Stanford (2007) suggests that rehabilitation programs simply do not work. ‘Rehabilitation’ is therefore a false promise – and the danger with such an illusory and impossible goal is that it is used as a front to justify keeping offenders locked up for longer than they deserve and sometimes even indefinitely (‘if we keep him here longer maybe he might change’). We cannot justify passing any heavier or more onerous a sentence on a person in the name of “rehabilitation” if “rehabilitation” does not work Stanford (2007).

Boris concurs, suggesting Britain spends ? 45,000 a year on each of its prisoners and yet 50% will go on to re-offend, ‘which translates into a dead investment of ? 2 billion annually. Rehabilitation programs should be scrapped and taxpayers asked only to pay the bare minimum to keep offenders off the streets. They can’t harm society if they are behind bars. Boris (2011) Punishment, through imprisonment, has many effects on convicted criminals. Imprisonment has many effects on the offender’s psychological well-being. When an offender is separated from their family, it has been seen to cause depression.

Larrabee suggests that supporters of rehabilitation versus punishment argue that sentencing offenders to custody hurt the family structure by contributing to single parenting. They also argue that punishment causes social disorientation, alienation, 10 and also increases the risk of reoffending. When an offender is released from custody, they face social isolation, stigmatism, economic and employment challenges. Rehabilitation through community supervision eliminates many of these issues, such as the economic and employment factors.

Probation allows offenders to remain with their families, continue working or find employment under close supervision Larrabee (2006). Custodial sentencing has not proven to be an effective mechanism for reducing crime; so therefore, the next logical step appears to be to test the efficiency of community-based punishment as an alternative. Perhaps over time, it will at least prove to be a more humanistic and dignified response to crime that may yield more rehabilitative positives and reduce re-offending.

However, whether to punish by custodial or non-custodial sentencing is unlikely to significantly reduce crime in society. To paraphrase Durkheim: it is only mainstream society that embraces morality and a sense of duty, which is able to enjoy the rewards of conformity that can promote proper conduct on a consistent and regular basis (Garland, 2000, pp. 388-389). In conclusion, although it is necessary to take in to consideration the high level of re- offending following custodial sentences, it must be weighed up against the need to provide a clear deterrent to potential offenders (or re-offenders) and to providing safety to the public.

Whilst there are a high percentage of re-offenders after imprisonment, it could be stated that this is a problem brought about by the current 11 state of the institutions and the apparent lack of rehabilitative services such as counselling. Custodial sentences do provide solutions to the sentencing objectives if only for the short-term by way of protection to society and deterrence. However, the longer term implications of imprisonment may well detract from these successes.

There are many advantages to a rehabilitative approach in dealing with offenders, such as the offender can have access to therapy such as anger management, drug/alcohol treatments, or they can participate in rehabilitative projects such as social skills or education. However it should also been said that there is an equal amount of weaknesses to this approach, from overcrowding in prisons meaning that the offender cannot gain access to services, to rehabilitative approaches simply not working as the crime statistics would suggest. 12 References BOIS, N. D. (2011) RETRIBUTION AND REHABILITATION: A MODERN CONSERVATIVE JUSTICE POLICY. DALE & CO. HTTP://WWW. IAINDALE. COM/POSTS/RETRIBUTION-AND-REHABILITATION-A-MODERN-CONSERVATIVE- JUSTICE-POLICY ACCESSED [26. 07.

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