Rehabilitative programs are driven by the main objective of reducing recidivism. Its dominance in correctional thinking is based on the rehabilitative potential but contrary to the optimism surrounding rehabilitation, some researchers have tabled results that the current nature of the programs does very little in reducing recidivism. Normally these programs address specific offending behaviors and may fall into four broad categorizations; sex offending, substance abuse (addictions), violence offending and cognitive skills.
All these categories are geared towards transforming the prisoner’s behavior, helping in the transition from prison life to community and reduce the risk of re-offending. Victim-offender mediation is a novel rehabilitative program through which restorative justice dialogue is fostered. It usually involved a face to face meeting between the victim and the offender under the guidance of a trained mediator. By exchanging their feelings about the crime and reconciling the offender is given a rare chance of making right their past wrongs before release.
Faith based prison programs include various religious programs that are geared towards spiritually transforming the prisoner through internal motivations and subsequently external behavior change. These services can either be provided by prison staff or through external faith and character based institutions. Programs are administered to prison units and coordinated by volunteer faith based groups. Dog training is a unique rehabilitative program where inmates nurture puppies with dog classes of walking and obedience training. Such a program helps to reduce violence and promote a sense of responsibility among these inmates.
Prison contemplative programs such as meditation, contemplative prayer and yoga helps in stress relief, spiritual development, critical thinking, develops a sense of responsibility as well as a sense of harmonious living in the community. Reintroduction of Criminals into the Society Reentry into the society is not a single event, but rather a process in which encompasses a series of interrelated events that will eventually culminate into the physical release of the inmate into the community. Such programs should have the capacity of preparing offenders to return to their communities where they will live harmoniously and within the law.
For a release process to be deemed successful, the inmate must continuously participate in the program. Prerelease programs usually accompany inmate programming which includes educational and vocational training, therapeutic communities, drug treatment programs, and faith based programs. After a successful participation in these programs, prerelease programs then entirely focus on the ways through which an inmate will deal with the future upon release. Thus, it focuses on finding residence, dealing with the expectations of parole officers and looking for employment.
Reintegration of ex-inmates into the non-institutionalized society remains one of the top challenges of the criminal justice system. In cases where reintegration fails, ex-inmates may commit crimes because they are unable to cope with their environment. Therefore gainful employment opportunities must be made available to ex-offenders. Given that such employment opportunities may be scarce to ex-inmates for a variety of reasons such as diminished workers value, reluctance to be hired, suspicion, the belief that these ex-inmates may victimize potential customers or that employing ex-convicts may expose the employer to legal liability.
Additionally, there are industries that specifically prohibit the hiring of ex-offenders. Owing to these integration difficulties legislations such as the Coming Home Initiative, the Reentry Courts Initiative, and the Reentry Partnership Initiative have become the buzzwords in correctional reforms. Community reentry programs include the existence of community reentry coordinators who facilitates the reception and reintegration of these ex-inmates into the community. They provide assistance with housing, health care, employment, family reunification, transportation, religious support and including the ex-prisoners in several volunteer projects
Public Protection and Reduction of Recidivism Rates It is true that the release of inmates into the society poses opposing challenges. On one side is the desire to protect public safety while on the other hand, there exist huge challenges in facilitating a persons transition from isolation to a contributing member of a society. While thousands of prisoners are being released yearly, a majority of them fail while in parole and consequently find themselves behind bars. For offenses such as sex offenders there are specific obligations that the ex-inmate is expected to meet upon very close supervision.
The criminal having received punishment for his offense to society has been reformed and imparted with sound survival skills but upon release, the society takes arms against him, they cannot trust him or grant him the opportunity to earn a honest bread. This is where the real problem lies. However, there are currently so many community programs that have been instituted to help solve some of the more apparent problems of reintegration hence indirectly working towards reducing recidivism rates.
More public policy changes need to be put in place to necessitate the establishment of more community reentry programs, provide all chemically dependent prisoners upon release with drug treatments, provider such persons with appropriate documentation, authorization of judicial waivers, restoration of civil and voting rights after the satisfaction of non financial obligations and finally the removal of legal barriers as pertains to employment discrimination. It is only through these that public safety will be guaranteed. Conclusion
Heightened fear of crime, tougher law enforcement action on crime, and long prison sentences have served to legitimate the rationality that by keeping millions and millions of offenders behind bars, crime rates will increase and the general public will operate in relative security. In prison a wide range of rehabilitative programs have been put in place not only to reform the offender but also prepare them for reintegration into the society upon release. While all these interventions have been significantly successful in meeting the objectives of the criminal justice system, recidivism has been on the increase.
This implies that while the wide range of prisoner reform programs have been crucial in reforming the prisoner, the society’s response to an offenders release has been way below expectation. Failure to reintegrate into society leads to a recurrence of the criminal act and the ex-inmate suddenly finds themselves behind bars: the only place where they seem to be accommodated. References DeRosia, V. R. (1998). Living inside prison walls: adjustment behavior. Greenwood Publishing Group, 20-25 May, D. C. , Minor, K. I. , Rudell, R. , Mathews, B. A. (2007). Corrections and the Criminal Justice System.
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