Rehabilitate or punish Essay Example

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Rehabilitate or Punish

Rehabilitate or Punish

Introduction to Criminology

In criminology, the word crime is defined as an act against a public law. The magnitude of the crime dictates the kind of action to be taken by the law towards the offender. The principles of criminology aim at understanding and analyzing the crime. It is comprised of three divisions; sociology of law, etiology and penology. Penology is focused in controlling crime, while sociology of law seeks to analyze the conditions under which criminal laws are enacted. Much emphasis is on etiology, which looks into the reasons or the causes for crime. It seeks to understand the criminal to ascertain a suitable method of correcting the offender. Thus, this paper presents an argument that rehabilitation is the best method in achieving penology. It considers the benefits and disadvantages of rehabilitation against those presented through the performance punishments.

Reasons for Rehabilitation of Criminals

The effectiveness of rehabilitation programs sparks heated debates across the world. According to Hagan (2013), prison rehabilitation programs have managed to reduce on recidivism. However the program lacks a proven success in the matter of re-offending. In the views of Hagan (2013), there are some targets factors in the criminal requiring a proper address in the process of eliminating recidivism. As mentioned, factors such as personality, mental health, cognitive processes, education and relationship are most considered during the rehabilitation process. The aim of rehabilitation is to improve on the life of the criminal and equip them with useful skills that will promote productive life.

Warren (2007) presents a critical evaluation on recidivism in the US. Through his writings, it is evident that the popular system of incarceration has increased the rates of recidivism among the felony offenders. These are criminals found guilty of serious crimes that have attracted punishments of not less than one year in a prison.

Controlling crime through incarceration over the years generates a constant loss in investments and great financial costs. In the social aspect, this method has only resulted in increased numbers in felony cases and misdemeanors. In the writings of Warren (2007), a research study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy proves that through an effective application of rehabilitation and prevention programs, the possibility of reducing the crime rates in Washington and loss of tax payers’ money is high.

Punitive ways of achieving corrections present significant barriers to the prisoners or the offenders when it comes to the social aspect. Research shows that the prisoners face a difficult time trying to reintegrate with the society. The society stigmatizes the offenders and labels them as outcasts, Owen (2016). It is important to present the offenders with opportunities to recover from their own mistakes. This is important in nurturing their acceptance in the community and moving past the thoughts of participating in criminal activities. According to Owen (2016), the success of rehabilitation depends on social support. Education to the society on ways to support the rehabilitation of criminal is crucial in reducing on recidivism.

Research shows that unemployment and substance abuse are the major causes of crime. As a result of substance abuse, the cases of mental illness have increased leading to increased crime rates. Thus, through the rehabilitation centers, psychologists are able to perform tests and screen for mental illness. This provides room for treatment including counseling. The provision for both vocational training and education programs equip the offenders with skills that they could use to get employment and thus discourage them from engaging in criminal activities.

An important role the rehabilitation centers play is seen in making the offenders aware of their wrong doing. Through the constant counseling by the psychologist, the convicts realize the implications of their offences to the community and hence are encouraged to change their behavior. The formation of group sessions presents a parallel to the community and hence the convicts are able to develop better communication skills. This prepares to integrate with the community once they are discharged to the society. The prisoners need to feel important and wanted, thus the training encouraged through the rehabilitation programs not only provides them with vital skill, but also manages to motivate the attitude of self-worth.

Rehabilitation centers are able to reach the community and prepare them on accepting the discharged prisoners. They provide counseling to the families of the convict and the society and hence create conducive environment for the rehabilitated prisoner. This measure has effectively reduced on the stigmatization of the ex-convicts when they return to the society. Importantly, it has increased their chances of finding employment. The type of environment that an ex-convict finds has a great potential in influencing the path they follow. Stigma from the society prevents the successful reintegration of the offenders to the society, Owen (2016).

Bonta et al (2007), presents a model that assess the best identifies the problem of the offender and matches it to their needs. This model suggests that in order to reduce on the offenders’ recidivism, the treatment subjected to the offender should be proportional to their risk in re-committing an offence. The model operates on two principles, the possibility of the offender to re-offend once released back to the society and the level of treatment. The level of treatment requires an understanding of the criminal behavior to determine their needs.

The public has an important role to play in regard to determining the kind of punishment that criminal should face. Brandon et al (1997), presents an analysis on the public opinion in regards to the establishment of correction facilities rather than the adoption of punitive measures. The analysis presented that although the community agrees that the criminals should face punishment, they believe that correction should be provided alongside rehabilitation. The benefits acquired through the rehabilitation process not only benefit the offender but, the community at large.

There are a number of purposes for punishment. The purpose ranges from achieving incapacitation, restitution, retribution and rehabilitation, McFatter (1982). The execution of punishment should satisfy one of the mentioned purposes. In this view, incapacitation is more suitable to those offenders with a much higher likely hood or re-committing the offence. A comprehensive research shows that offender with low risk of recidivism are more likely to reform through rehabilitation process.

Reasons for Punishment on Criminals

The expenses incurred in performing rehabilitation to criminal discourages its practice n most countries. The disadvantages of the rehabilitation system in completely eradicating the problem of recidivism promotes the opinion that rehabilitation are not effective in achieving correction hence the need to use much forceful means of correction that involve punishment.

According to Travis (2002), the need for visible punishment by the public or the offended to the offender should is presented as a means of administering justice. The offender should suffer the consequences of his actions and this is only possible through the administration of harsh punishment. The administration of much harsh punishments than the crime committed is arguably an effective way in ensuring that the criminal is discourages from re-committing the crime.

According to Francis et al (2000), the provision of comfort for the offenders presented the conservatives’ with the opinion that the law was being lenient to the offenders. Consequently, the liberals blamed the law for promoting rehabilitation, which coercively against the offenders. The main disadvantage presented by the use of rehabilitation centers is the failure to correct the offenders. Research shows that despite expensive costs incurred in ensuring that the offenders are rehabilitated, a good percentage of offenders are found to be recidivism.

The ideal of punishment is to instill fear as a way to prevent the recurrence of the same crime from the offender. Those in support of this system praise its effectiveness since there is no mercy shown to the offender. The public on a general perspective tend to support this method. Research shows that depending on the crime committed, the offenders present different opinions regarding the type of punishment to be administered. In the case of high caliber crimes, the offended were found to prefer the punitive methods of correction as opposed to rehabilitating the criminal. Offences considered less impactful attracted more rehabilitation as opposed to punitive methods.

In a comprehensive research, the risks involved in rehabilitation process make the measure less popular. The society view that the success of rehabilitation mainly depends on chance that the offender is willing to change and the society is ready to reintegrate with the offender. The disadvantage of stigmatization also aggravates the adoption of this system as it is deemed as a huge investment that could easily go to waste in the event that the offender suffers stigmatization and is incapable of finding employment.


The need to achieve correction to the law offender is thus a crucial issue affecting the society. A careful analysis of the offender and the cause of the offence or crime are necessary in determining the kind of punishment to administer. Based on the advantages of rehabilitation, it is thus important to administer correction to the offender rather than punishing them for their crimes and increasing their chances or recidivism. It is the responsibility of the society to encourage the efforts of the rehabilitation centers especially in the case of juvenile offenders. Importantly, the society should be educated on ways of reintegrating with the offender as a way to encourage their reformation and present an opportunity for the bettering of their lives.


Bonta, J., and Andrews, D. A (2007). Risk-need-responsivity model for offender assessment and rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, 6, 1-22.

Brandon, K.P., Francis, T.C. and Bonnie S.F. (1997). Public Support for correction treatment: The continuing appeal of the rehabilitative ideal, 77 (3), 237-258.

Cullen, F. T., and Gendreau, P. (2000). Assessing correctional rehabilitation: policy, practice, and prospects. Criminal justice, 3 (1), 299-370.

Hagan, M.I.C.H.A.E.L. (2013). The impact of the Rehabilitation Programmes of the Nsawam Prisons on its Inmates (Doctoral dissertation, University of Ghana), 1-172.

McFatter , R.M. (1982). Purpose of punishment: Effects of utilities of criminal sanctions on perceived appropriateness. Journal of applied Psychology 67, (3), 255.

Owen, K.L. (2016). Does Social Stigma Affect Criminal Rehabilitation? , 1.

Rogers. K. Warren. (2007). Evidence Based Practices to Reduce Recidivism: Implication for state judiciaries, 1-67.

Travis , J. (2002). Invisible punishment: An instrument of Social exclusion, 1, 1-25.