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Rehabilitation Versus Punishment

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Imprisonment is a measure intended for those who commit certain wrongs in society and it is a method of working on such a culprit’s mind as well as his or her body through punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation. Such a process is important in society to ensure criminals are subjected to an environment they can’t carry on their criminal behavior, members of society get the satisfaction of the desired vengeance and also dissuades potential criminals from such wrongful activities. Through constructive psychological habituation, such individuals who are products of this system are able to fit back into society as industrious law abiding citizens. (Wright, 2010).

Criminal punishment refers to those measures that have been designed so that they are horrid and imposed by government agencies and authorities   on individuals convicted of committing acts in violation of provisions of the set criminal laws. It represents the society’s distaste of the defendant’s behavior, and thus condemning it strongly as immoral (Frase, 2010).  Rehabilitation on the other hand is a measure used to restore a criminal to useful life through such things as therapy and education and thus reduce criminal recidivism. It is intended to reform a convict and enable him or her live a productive life free from crime.

The most progressive and also humane of the two types of treatments for criminals is rehabilitation. It is also a cost-efficient form of crime prevention. It is however very difficult to achieve. Incarceration by way of rehabilitation views criminal tendencies more like a sickness and so emphasize on therapeutic rather than punitive techniques (Depression-guide, 2005). Rather than exert revenge and make a criminal’s life worse, this form of incarceration works to their favor. Generally, it is believed that criminals deserve to pay for their acts and omissions by suffering. Rehabilitation takes a totally different view from this and since most convicts suffer from physical and mental illnesses, limited avenues for success and drug addiction problem, the technique aims at ensuring these do not drive such culprits back to those roots (Frase, 2010).

Punishing alone might cause such an individual to most likely re-enter the vice, might jeopardize one’s future by bringing additional difficulties such as a criminal record that most likely impacts on one’s employment opportunities. In addition, one’s social connections might deteriorate while in custody and also such a criminal may get acclimatized to the culture of criminality (Wright, 2010). The only best alternative in this case is rehabilitation, since it is doctored to lessen an offender’s criminal tendencies in the future through such ways as counseling, treatment and even education and treatment that help to nip the vice in the bud since they dwell on the causes of the behavior.

According to Krestev (1994), a large percentage of ex-convicts normaly end up being repeat offenders as shown by statistics. This is not economically viable since the government would be forced to spend huge sums of money in a bid to contain such potential repeat offenders in addition to maintenance of the prisons. It is also a very great threat to society as well as a strain if such people are left to mingle with the people. Apart from this, it is worth noting that punishment through incarceration dehumanizes convicts as they develop feelings of anonymity thus breeding bitter feelings due to their rejection and condemnation to such a kind of life. There are deeper psychological effects to this than meets the eye. Such an environment is composed of other criminals whom most probably 20% are mentally unstable and 5% psychotic. This has an effect on one’s conception about his or her personal adequacy.

Another important advantage of rehabilitation over punishment through incarceration is that congestion in most prisons is an issue that is of concern to many governments. This can be addressed through rehabilitation as this reduces overcrowding. This congestion is attributable to growth in criminal population as well as abolishment of the death penalty. The government would thus have to fork out large amounts of money to be spent on facilities for housing of offenders. This would be much more expensive as compared to use of rehabilitation (Krestev, 1994).

Punishment in most cases is normally meted out to offenders in proportion to how serious an offence is and the criminal’s blameworthiness. This technique is a proper form for purposes of fairness to victims of the offence, to those offenders that are law-abiding, to those offenders who have been subjected to punishment for the same crime and also to that particular offender as he or she deserves no more severe punishment than what he or she warrants and not more than what similar criminals were subjected to (Larrabee, 2006). In an incarceration setting, punishment as a criminal penalty is justified depending on the desirable outcomes that are expected. This is apart from the most obvious that is fairness. Such desirable outcomes include prevention of any future offences by this criminal or other anticipating criminals.    

Frase (2010) asserts that through punishment, vital social norms of desirable morals are reinforced. Since prevention of crime through rehabilitation and deterrence is difficult due to the small numbers of criminals that are actually arrested and convicted, reinforcement of norms would be the most vital offence-preventive result of punishment. It is also worth noting that threat of punishment is a good deterrent to crime. Potential criminals might have committed crimes had it not been for the fear of punishment.

Likelihood of a particular offence being committed is reduced through severity and frequency of punishment. This incarceration technique is viewed as a question of accountability. One should be ready to take responsibility for his or her action. It is tthus a case of a tooth for a tooth. Anybody going against the social moral code should bear the brunt for their actions. All these are advantageous effects of punishment towards deterrence of crime (Larrabee, 2006).

Both rehabilitation and punishment are important in deterring criminal acts and deeds. It is however not effective to do without any of them. They go hand in hand in ensuring deterrence of crime. However, because of its many positive outcomes and other advantages, rehabilitation should be emphasized over punishment. Rehabilitation overrides punishment in effectiveness.  There are a number of specific crimes such as drug-related crimes and non-violent crimes that would benefit from rehabilitation as compared to punishment (Depression-guide, 2005).

A way should be found to incorporate both rehabilitation and punishment in the criminal justice system so that they work together towards effective controlling of crime. Punishing and then following this up with rehabilitation through such measures as education, training and therapy are sure ways through which crime can be deterred.

According to Larrabee (2006), punishment would help ensure an offender deters from future criminal tendencies so long as the appropriate sentence is issued. Rehabilitation will also ensure propensity for offenders to return to crime is reduced. Education as a way of rehabilitation within the prison ensures that prisoners get an opportunity to increase their knowledge base so that they don’t revert to a life of crime after their release as they can acquire jobs. Therapy on its part would ensure that ex-convicts return back to society as relatively sound and stable individuals. This would be handled through counseling and assessment of inmates enabling a balance of their inner dynamics.

Criminal rehabilitation programmes are offered by such institutions as Criminon that is headquartered in Los Angeles and the Fortune Society which was started and is staffed by ex-convicts. These and several others are dedicated to addressing how a criminal’s self-respect can be restored by use of education, common sense tests and drug detoxification for those offenders who are drug addicts. Halfway houses are also correctional centers that rehabilitate while keeping the offenders in the residential community.

Deterrence of crime through incarceration using the techniques of punishment and rehabilitation as seen are the most effective. The two techniques should be applied hand in hand so as to realize desirable results. The outcome of these include transforming criminals into industrious law abiding individuals, potential criminals are persuaded not to engage in crime, justice for wrongful acts and subjects offenders to a different environment away from society hence security for the members. In conclusion therefore, both punishment and rehabilitation are necessary in the prevention of crime and a system should be put in place to ensure both are incorporated in the criminal judicial system (Wright, 2010).

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