Rehabilitation Programs is better than Imprisonment

The Need for Rehabilitation in the US Prison System

The US is said to have more than two million prisoners, which is equivalent to one in 142 residents of the whole American population. Evidently, it is no longer a good time to be an American prisoner at this moment of the century considering how the gadget appears to place more emphasis on prisons than on rehabilitation. Interestingly, a shift has taken region over a just a few years ago because it wasn't the case in the mid-1970s. Until the 1970s, rehabilitation was a key part of the American jail policy where the prisoner would be encouraged to advance occupations skills and assisted to overcome their psychological problems The goal was to ensure that issues related to substance abuse and aggression that would affect the way they integrated into society were addressed. The approach has since changed with the correctional department focusing on a "get tough on crime" approach that places the prison at the core of the policy. Apart from the high numbers who are already in prison, it is reported that a further 4-5 million people are off probation or parole, while the crime rate does not appear to reduce. The rehabilitation system is a preferred option to prison because it is cost-effective and offers a better chance for a criminal to transition seamlessly into society.

Reducing Criminal Populations and Recidivism

One of the prime reasons to advocate for a system that is based on rehabilitation is that there is a need to reduce the criminal populations in the US. A core challenges for the prisons is that many of those who are released undergo recidivism later after being freed. The subject has been of interest to researchers who have sought to examine the impact of incarceration on recidivism with the hypothesis proving how bad a jail sentence is to a criminal. It is indicated that from a 2016 study, the longer the sentence and the longer the time one is associated with misconduct in a prison setup, the higher the chance that they will commit the offense again (Drago, Galbiati, and Vertova 106). The National Institute for Justice has also detailed that a jail term is not much effective because incarceration can only act as a medium for deterring people from committing crimes in half of the inmates. The impression from the studies done by these institutes is that the criminal populations can only be reduced when there is a shift from incarceration policy and targeting a reduction in the rate of recidivism (Drago, Galbiati, and Vertova 1100). It is why it is believed that a rehabilitation system in place can change the experience that those in detention have and thus reduce the chance that they will be involved in criminal activities in future upon release.

Treating Mental and Psychological Issues

Rehabilitation is a preferred option because it enables people with mental and psychological issues to obtain treatment that would otherwise not be offered in jail. The number of beds occupied in forensic psychiatry hospital has been on the rise in recent times, which denotes to the fact that there is a chance that many of those in the prisons could be suffering from conditions that have not been detected (Farkas and Anthony 115). It is surprising that the jails sometimes ignore this factor while the reality is that many of those who engage in crime often do so because of an underlying medical condition that causes them to behave oddly. It thus calls for the need to focus on the cause of committing a crime, which is particularly relevant for the minors who are involved in juvenile crimes possibly because of an underlying mental condition that has not been detected or due to teenage stress. It is thus warranted that through the rehabilitation programs, such people can get better treatment for the mental disorder than they would get in prison, which would worsen the condition.

Providing Individual Support and Building Confidence

The other core justification for the need to embrace a system that is focused on rehabilitation is because of the need to offer individual support to those apprehended and present them with a chance to become better citizens. A typical prison setting is a place where a criminal feels ignored, and in some cases, it is believed that the individual could even feel that they are being wronged. The prison involvement has been found to bolster the experience and thus make the offender believe that they cannot integrate into society with ease. It is, however, poised that with the use of a rehabilitation system, the effect will be a shift in mindset to more positive expectations. Rehabilitation programs thus present better tools that the offenders can make better use of to establish the lost confidence in their changeability and enable them to look at life positively. The options offered in a rehab setting can be of much benefit to the criminal because they will end up changing their lives for the better (Drago, Galbiati, and Vertova 117). Inmates who are given the tools to become better through the options availed to in the rehab facilities can then use the imprisonment to develop a better foundation and in the process learn how to become better citizens.

Cost Savings and Positive Results

Furthermore, a rehabilitation mentality is a preferred option compared to prison because of the significant savings that are pertinent to a shift from the mindset of incarceration. It is interesting that some people balk at the idea of going the rehab way because of the fear that it will cost more for the government to invest in the change facilities. However, it draws back to the issue of the number of people who go back to commit crimes because when such individuals become frequently associated with the prisons, the costs for the government rise substantially. Meanwhile, it is not the case when the issue is perceived from the perspective of rehabilitation because in such a case, there is a reduced likelihood that one will commit a similar offense. It thus follows that the overall cost of changing a criminal to a productive citizen will be less through a rehab institution than by offering them a harsh jail term. In fact, positive results have been noted in selected states that have embraced the idea of rehabilitation with the case of San Francisco being a significant instance. About a decade ago, the San Francisco local jail program implemented a program that was targeted at establishing an educational program intended to reduce the incidence of violent acts among the inmates (Spensley 45). It was aimed at lowering the likelihood that a criminal would be harmful both inside the prison and after they have been released. The outcome was that the program resulted in savings of $4 for every dollar that was invested in the initiative. It thus underscores the fact that the criminal systems are better placed to realize positive results and better savings by embracing a rehab instituted in the long-run (Spensley 60).

Real-world Success Stories

To further justify the efficacy of rehabilitation institutions, it is necessary to cite some of the real-world cases of rehab initiatives that are already in place and that are already responding, indicating positive results. One case is in Georgia that has been in support of substance abuse treatment programs for high-risk criminals in the correctional facilities within the state (Spensley 57). In 2016, the state passed a program that meant that Governor Nathan Deal signed in initiatives to establish the use of prison-based charter schools for the offenders while the others would be offered a diverse range of reentry programs (Johnson). The aim of implementing these initiatives was to prevent the licensing boards from making it a necessity that one's criminal information is required in many cases. The result has been phenomenal for the state because today, Georgia's measures have successfully ensured that both incarceration and recidivism rates are low, thus indicating that they are a preferred approach to reducing crime rates in the US.

Further illustrations on successes that are relevant to back the arguments have been noted in Norway that has for a long time has been used as a justification for the benefit of a correctional policy that is focused on rehabilitation. Norway is cited in the literature as a paragon of inmate rehabilitation following many years of the country's focus on intensive education for the prisoners with further options including training being offered as one serves their term behind bars. In fact, many European countries have embraced and instituted such opportunities in their prison policies following the success of the intervention in Norway. A recent study conducted in 2016 has shown that the idea is positive and that it works to the benefit of the criminal (Spensley 48). Those who engage in the rehabilitation program have been found to record at least 27 percent lower recidivism rates than those who were not offered rehab but engaged in probation or community program alone. Furthermore, it is indicated that the number of inmates who ended up finding an economic activity to do and retaining it for at least five years was 40 percent higher for those who underwent rehabilitation compared to the rest who were subjected to alternative penalties (Spensley 46).

In summary, it is worth emphasizing that the rehabilitation options can enable the offender to get treatment and be more beneficial to the community, and thus reduce the chance that they will engage in a criminal activity upon release. Such outcomes are expected to have a positive outcome on the corrections department and benefit the states because of the reduction in costs on the amount that is spent to change a criminal into a productive citizen. It is based on the principle that rehabilitation programs offer of recognizing wrongdoing and rather than making a criminal suffer for it, focus on a positive future for the offender and the society upon the release of the individual. Thus, from the successes already reported in San Francisco and Norway, it is affirmed that rehabilitation offers a better option in transforming offenders into productive citizens.

Works Cited

Drago, Francesco, Roberto Galbiati, and Pietro Vertova. “Prison Conditions and Recidivism.” American Law and Economics Review 13.1 (2011): 103–130. Web.

Farkas, Marianne, and William a Anthony. “Psychiatric Rehabilitation Interventions: A Review.” International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England) 22.2 (2010): 114–129. Web.

Johnson, Antonio M. “Residential Substance Abuse Treatment.” State of Georgia (2017): n. pag. Web.

Spensley, C. “The Role of Social Isolation of Elders in Recidivism of Self-Neglect Cases at San Francisco Adult Protective Services.” Journal of elder abuse & neglect 20.1 (2008): 43–61. Web.

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