FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

According to Sheehan, Everly, and Langlieb (2004), the five "best practices" to be followed in dealing with major critical incidents are early intervention, complete care, peer support, specialized training, and tactical intervention. The five core competencies that are featured in these best practices are assessment training, crisis intervention with individuals, small-group crisis intervention, large-group crisis intervention and strategic planning. To my knowledge, all of these five best practices have been implemented in my geographic area.

The federal law enforcement and the state police agencies have assumed the lead role in antiterrorism investigations. As a result of various federal statutes and enormous technological abilities, these federal agencies are responsible for gathering raw intelligence from a variety of technical and human resources, both at home and abroad. In addition, these agencies are charged with the prevention of terrorist attacks and/or the investigation of such attacks should they occur.

On the other hand, it is the Department of Justice who is responsible for prosecution of those individuals involved in either the conspiracy or the actual attack. While there are many state statutes that cover terrorists’ crimes, it is universally agreed that only the federal government has the resources to conduct intelligence activities and the complex investigations and prosecutions of international terrorist activities. But notwithstanding the federal role, there are areas in which states and local governments play an important role in anti-terrorist matters.

These include emergency response to the attack by fire, police, and medical personnel; identifying critical target facilities; supplying manpower to regional task forces; acquiring equipment and communications technology for first responder use; and the planning and execution of required long-term medical assistance or biological agent neutralization. In addition, local authorities (i. e. police officers) have the responsibility to control immediate facility damage and to be able to acquire other needed resources to bring the immediate situation under control.

Based upon the reading you have done and any practical experiences you may have had, do you think rehabilitation and retribution can be accomplished simultaneously? Why or why not? What is the relationship between each of these correctional goals and political ideology? Do you believe one of these goals is more important than the other? If so, which one and why? Personally, I believe that rehabilitation and retribution can be accomplished simultaneously. My argument is that punishment should be aimed toward the future, not the past.

When we say, “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” we mean that it does very little good after the milk is spilled to cry about it. The milk should be cleaned up, and precautions should be taken so that no more milk will be spilled in the future. If this requires punishing the offender for being careless, being reckless, or even intentionally spilling the milk, so be it. But it would not make much sense to punish the milk-spiller simply to get even with him or her.

It would not get the floor clean (unless the punishment included cleaning the floor), it would not increase the likelihood that more milk would not be wasted in the future, and it might even be detrimental or destructive to the future of the milkspiller, particularly if the punishment far exceeded the act. We wouldn’t want to do anything that would make it more likely that the milk-spiller would spill more milk in the future, would we? The hard fact is that, there is very little rehabilitation in American punishment today, mostly because of the widespread but false belief that we do not know what works or how best to use it.

A major report by Martinson (reprinted in 2000, p. 23), a criminologist, stated that “with few and isolated exceptions, the rehabilitative efforts that have been reported so far have had not appreciable effect on rehabilitation. ” Such reports led to the decline of the rehabilitative ideal in the 1970s. In fact, some forms of nurturant strategies are likely to be highly effective at eliminating crime before it even happens (Robinson, 2004). There is very little going on in the world of corrections today that we can call rehabilitation (D. Gottfredson 1999, p. 420).

This can be attributed, in part, to the use of crime as an election issue by politicians seeking to get elected and maintain power through law-and-order, get-tough on- crime rhetoric. Beckett and Sasson (2000, p. 55) explain how the rehabilitative ideal collapsed in the United States in the context of a growing chorus of criticism, from scholars and activists across the political spectrum, of “rehabilitation” as a primary justification for punishment. Conservatives opposed rehabilitation on the grounds that punishment must be harsh and painful if it is to deter crime.

Liberals also criticized policies associated with rehabilitation, arguing that the open-ended (“indeterminate”) sentences designed to facilitate “correction” created the potential for the intrusive, discriminatory, and arbitrary exercise of power. Dozens of reviews of the ineffectiveness of rehabilitation were published in the 1960s and 1970s (see D. Gottfredson 1999, p. 423). Walker (1998, p. 203) explains that we must, at least to some degree, still be committed to rehabilitation, because we still call the facilities that punish offenders “corrections” (which suggests that we hope to correct their behavior).

Public opinion polls of Americans show that there is widespread support for rehabilitation, treatment, and crime prevention as alternatives to punitiveness (Roberts and Stalans 2000). In fact, some treatment does work for some people (see D. Gottfredson 1999, p. 434). In the end, I believe that the goal of rehabilitation is more important than retribution.

Hence, I argue that the future of criminal justice policy must be directed toward programs that are less punitive and more treatment based. We can also conclude, by comparing punishment in the United States with that in other countries, that the U. S. is very “tough” on crime. In fact, the United States sentences convicted murderers and robbers to roughly the same length of incarceration as Canada and England do (and we have the death penalty! ). For relatively petty offenses, we sentence offenders to much longer terms of incarceration than these countries do (Beckett and Sasson 2000, p. 29). Thus, the notion that the U. S. criminal justice network is lenient on criminals is simply a myth (Kappeler, Blumberg, and Potter 2000). Our system of punishment should be future-based, aimed at crime prevention, and rooted in utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism (based on the writings of John Stuart Mill, for example) holds that actions should be aimed at doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Some of what we do may ideally be based on utilitarian goals of crime prevention through deterrence, but in my experiences and observations, most of what we do in the United States is to punish criminals, hence it is mainly based on retribution, which is backward looking: It aims to get even with the offender for past wrongs. Therefore, I could say that the methods of punishment available to the U. S. network of criminal justice are not being best utilized to achieve the goals of sentencing.


Beckett, K. , and T. Sasson. (2000). The politics of injustice: Crime and punishment in America. ThousandOaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. Gottfredson, D. (1999). Exploring criminal justice: An introduction. Los Angeles: Roxbury. Kappeler, V. , M. Blumberg, and G. Potter. (2000). The mythology of crime and criminal justice, 3rd ed. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. Martinson, R. (2000). What works? Questions and answers in prison reform. Public Interest 35: 22–55.