Cure for crime US

As well as looking at the ways in which crime can be prevented, the ways in which the offenders of crime can be treated is explored and will be assessed in this essay. For an offender to be rehabilitated they are regularly required to undertake a treatment program or some type of therapy which can differ accordingly these methods include but are not excluded to; Behaviour modification or Token Economy Programs, Social Skills Training Programs and Anger Management Programs. Behaviour Modification is the use of behaviour change techniques to achieve improved behaviour in the individual concerned, this includes altering an individual's behaviors and reactions to stimuli through positive and negative reinforcement of adaptive behaviour and/or the reduction of maladaptive behaviour through punishment, this is based on Skinners theory of Operant conditioning (1958).

A key feature of the behaviour modification programmes is the use of the Token Economy as this is present in the real world. The token economy consists of acting desirabley to earn tokens that can be exchanged for a selection of privileges, if a person was to act in an undesirable way then the tokens are withdrawn and this is a very powerful negative reinforcements especially when used in a prison. Hobbs and Holt (1976) found that the token economy had the desired effects when tested on young male delinquents and compared their findings with a control group of young male delinquents who were not put on to a token economy.

It is clear to see that the token economy has many advantages not only to those directly involved but has a positive outcome on society as a whole, this does however raise the question of what disadvantages come with the token economy for example there is a very small amount of evidence to show that the benefits last after release from the institution, a lot of commitment is needed from all involved in order for the token economy to work and can be very difficult to operate correctly in a prison setting due to threats from other inmates, peer pressure applied to the individual and also the fact that there are other reinforcements operating in a prison setting.

Interaction between people is easier when they have the required social skills such as making and maintaining eye contact, being aware of personal space and allowing others to speak during a conversation. Social skills training is a way of improving and developing the offenders interaction skills. The social skills programs are based on two assumptions being that the offender lacks social skills and thus predisposes them to criminal activity and obtaining these social skills will reduce the rates of re-offending.

The social skills training program works of the principles of cognitive- behavioural therapy. The program works through different stages of the gaining social skills usually starting with the teaching of Non-verbal skills such as making and maintaining eye contact and working on gestures and postures. The next stage is to work on maintaining a conversation and interacting with members of the opposite sex.

Throughout the program the offenders are encouraged to perform and practise their gained skills in a variety of situations. It is evident that having positive social skills will benefit the individual greatly in many situations but the skills learnt are only short term changes and there is no eveidence that would suggest that the benefits last over the longer term, Hollin (1990) stated that social skills training would possibly be good for personal development but not as a cure for crime.

It is clear that the offender treatment programs are a positive aspect of a prisoners life, the treatments such as the token economy make life easier for the prison gaurds which in turn makes life safer for many. The offender treatment programmes are evidentley successful in changing specific behaviours but this appears to be the case only when under controlled conditions such as the prison. There is not much evidence for these programs benefitting the individual upon their release from the institution and therefore they require the individual to actively participate in the program and to practise any new found skills when appropriate. These methods are a better alternative to offering nothing to offenders and some will benefit widely from the treatments given.