The outcomes of criminals are one of the most important goals of any criminal justice system and a correctional issue that attracts significant public interests. The correctional department is tasked with ensuring that offenders are punished for their crimes in a manner that discourages others from committing crimes thereby leading to reduces rates of crimes.
The punitive era of incarceration in the United States was facilitated by public demand from society for offenders to be severely punished. However, such a focus on punishment with little interest paid on the outcomes of such criminals after incarceration only worsened the situation as crime rates surged further due to the high rates of recidivism. The realization that punishment alone does not work when it comes to reforming prisoners and reducing the rates of crime led to the search for newer and better correctional approaches.
Rehabilitation is a creative correctional approach meant to enhance prisoner reformation and foster positive correctional outcomes. The primary focus of rehabilitation focuses on helping the offenders get back on the paths to crime-free lives. As a result, over the past decade or so, there have been a significant development in investments directed towards the delivery of offender rehabilitation programs. Although there is a common misconception that rehabilitation is inefficient and expensive, research has shown that rehabilitation is indeed more effective that incarceration when its actual economic and public safety outcomes are considered. Research has shown that the use of punishment is less effective in reforming prisoners but rehabilitation is more effective in reducing the rates of recidivism (Berenji, Chou, & D’Orsogna, 2014).
The utilization of evidence-based rehabilitation programs has been shown to be successful in reducing offender recidivism while programs based on punishment and coercion without treatment are unlikely to result in positive outcomes (Boturac, Gracin, Stanic, 2017). Rehabilitation programs for juvenile delinquents, domestic violence perpetrators, and drug-addicts have been shown to be more effective as compared to general rehabilitative program. Also, community rehabilitation, and those involving some form of counselling, education rehabilitation, and employment rehabilitation have been shown to be more effective that those focused on wellness rehabilitation for inmates.
Berenji B, Chou T, D’Orsogna MR (2014) Recidivism and Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders: A Carrot and Stick Evolutionary Game. PLoS ONE 9(1): e85531. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0085531
Boturac, K., Gracin, D., & Stanic, N. (2017). The Challenges in Reducing Criminal Recidivism. Public Security and Public Order, 18(4). 115-131