Monday, November 26, 2007

Criminal Rehabilitation: Good or Bad?

Many in Texas have their opinion about how to handle those entangled in the criminal justice system. The typical conservative is for the death penalty and harsh prison sentences. Liberals are usually against the death penalty and push for inmate rehabilitation. Others are stuck in the middle. Whatever your view may be, all can agree something must be done. Currently Texas spends $2.8 billion on adult prisons a year, which is triple the amount spent in 1990.

While I may agree with the harsh prison sentences, I also see why people argue for rehabilitation. I do not believe people should be let off easy for crimes they commit. And prison itself should not be a cake walk. Upon exiting prison one should have it in their mind that that is one place they never want to go again. With that said, I think rehabilitation could help some. When most exit prison they have no money, no skills and no back up plan. Many may feel a life of crime may be the only way to attain an income. With odds stacked against them, they wind up back in jail. The state of Texas realizes this, and has subsequently expanded rehabilitation services by way of giving $217 million this year for these programs. Perhaps by providing rehabilitation services for present and former inmates, drug treatment programs and psychological counseling some will feel a sense hope and determination. Knowing they have skills under their belt, they may be more likely to try to join the working population. Many argue against rehabilitation, feeling that it is not our responsibility to take care of criminals. But I look at it from a different point of view. Giving a person job skills will give them the hope of a life without criminal activity and a brighter future. If crime goes down, our communities will be safer. And who can argue against a safer world for both ourselves and generations to come?


nbclatenight said...

I agree with Carrie that rehabilitation for those inmates eligible for parole is a good alternative to anything else. I am against capital punishment; you know what they say: an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. I feel that life in prison without parole is a suitable punishment for those truly heinous crimes, but giving the former inmates life skills for after their release, it would seem, could lower in part the chance of repeat offenders. If the population of those in prison falls, then less money will be needed to be allocated to the system free up the funds for other use. Providing Texas prisoners with skills will also increase the overall quality of citizen.

Maloney said...

I also have to agree with the author of this post on criminal rehabilitation.

I also can see the two sides, while falling more in the middle just the same. On the one hand I have to wonder about some of these 3 strikes laws you see other places where people commit crimes and are punished for subsequent crimes they commit that could really be blamed on the nature of incarceration people faced. On the other hand I see other places like foreign countries that send people to prison only 15-20 years for things like murder. I understand people make horrible mistakes, but some are so bad that these people need to go away so they don't have the chance to make them again.

As far as Texas goes, I think it's way too in love with the death penalty. I don't really feel that executing a person is the best way to demonstrate that murder is wrong. As a matter of principle I don't think any person has the moral authority to kill another person for reasons other than self-defense. That said, I hadn't heard about this recent focus on rehabilitation.

I too think prison should be no picnic and just based on the lack of freedom of movement it really isn't. It should take away enough freedom to make people never want to go back. I think what would be equally effective, though, would be if rehabilitation gave inmates enough hope for their prospects in the world that they didn't want to come back.

Like my colleagues mentioned, it saves money if people aren't in and out of courts and prisons over and over again, but also it saves lives. More US population is institutionalized in its prisons than most any other country. This is a drain on taxpayers, but it's also just plain sad. If people can learn from mistakes in prison and gain hope for their life after being there, they won't end up back there.