Rehabilitation refers to the restoration of life through education and therapy. The main assumption in rehabilitation is that people are not innately criminal, so it is possible to erase criminal behaviors and restore the criminal’s clean slate, making them more productive members of society. Instead of unproductively punishing criminals, the justice system can opt to rehabilitate them, which is in theory, more beneficial to the community and to the individual (O’Connor and Pallone, 2003, p. 36).
Humanitarians are known for supporting rehabilitation in the United States and around the world because they believe punishment for punishment’s sake is futile and harmful to all people concerned. Rehabilitation relies on the assumption that no punishment is severe enough that a criminal will be able to be reformed and socially integrated with the community after his sentence is served. Rehabilitation employs various tools to reform the offender, including probation orders, community service, and workshops for smoother social integration (O’Connor and Pallone, 2003, p.
36). Rehabilitation though is not free from criticism. While the key assumptions of the theory of rehabilitation are sound, there is currently no solid scientific study that shows how different individuals respond to the same methods of rehabilitation. Second, prisoners have different psychological backgrounds, so their motives to commit crimes are different from each other. This factor may have more significant effects on the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs than the philosophy of rehabilitation itself (O’Connor and Pallone, 2003, p.
13). Aside from the philosophical issues with rehabilitation, there are also material issues that need to be addressed. Rehabilitation programs that aim to provide new lives to freed inmates and reduce recidivism rates in the country are typically complex and costly. Incarceration facilities need many professionals to implement programs that mold prisoners through therapy, education, and community service. Furthermore, these rehabilitation programs are futile if their results cannot be assessed scientifically.
Prisons must have assessment tools, such as the CPAP employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to make sure their programs are working. In the United States, many corrections facilities are using the principles of rehabilitation to improve the lives of their inmates. A prisoner may go through different types of therapy and provide labor to the prison facility itself or to the surrounding community to improve his social skills and economic productivity.
Many prisoners benefit a lot from these rehabilitation programs as they find it easier to reintegrate with the community when they are released. However, some of them still commit crimes or fall victim to recidivism even after the rehabilitation programs they underwent. Rehabilitation is the main corrections philosophy preferred by the US justice system, but more studies need to be done on its actual effectiveness (O’Connor and Pallone, 2003, p. 12).