Should the criminal justice system focus more on rehabilitation? (Don’t punish them, reform them)

By focusing more on rehabilitation than retribution, the criminal justice system will do more than just put away criminals. Rehabilitation makes it possible to identify the factors that could have led to them being deviants. Rehabilitation sees to it that the chances of them repeating the crime are minimised.
Collins Mwai
Collins Mwai

By focusing more on rehabilitation than retribution, the criminal justice system will do more than just put away criminals. Rehabilitation makes it possible to identify the factors that could have led to them being deviants. Rehabilitation sees to it that the chances of them repeating the crime are minimised.

It is by rehabilitation that the reintegration of offenders back into the society is made possible since it is testimony that society has not lost hope on the said offender.  It places such great value on the prisoner’s rights that it tries so hard to change the offender and prevent his re-offending.

Rehabilitation should be the justification for imprisonment, for it promotes the humanising belief in that offenders can be saved and not simply subjected to punishment.  Retribution   on the other hand, sees punishment as an end in itself; it is meant to make the offender suffer the consequences of his actions and nothing more. This has no place in any enlightened and foresighted society like ours. Rehabilitation takes into consideration that imprisoning offenders without helping them change is harmful both to the offenders themselves and for society as a whole.

Rehabilitation does not ignore society and the victim. By seeking to reduce re-offending and to reduce crime, it seeks to constructively reduce public nuisance and protect other members of the society. Such a model of punishment is therefore a more enlightened approach in a modern day criminal justice system. A system which focuses more on retribution does not have the possibility of seeking to prevent re-offending by curing the offender of their desire to commit the crime again.

Rehabilitation has another important value – it recognises the reality of social inequity. To say that some offenders need help to be rehabilitated is to accept the idea that circumstances can constrain and lead to criminality.  Rehabilitation admits that we can help unfortunate persons who have been overcome by their circumstances.

It rejects the idea that individuals, regardless of their position in the society, exercise equal freedom in deciding whether to commit a crime, and should be punished equally according to their offence.

Prisons resemble schools of crime when they lack rehabilitation programmes. They isolate offenders from their families and friends and when they are released their social networks tend to be more aggressive.

As well as sharing ideas, prisoners may validate each others’ criminal activity. But rehabilitation seeks to ensure that prisoners have positive influence on each other as they are being transformed.

As to whether rehabilitation really works, it does seek to ‘cure’ individuals and it also recognises that there are always two sides to any story and that the prisoner has a future.

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