This has been a long-debated topic among everyday people and lawmakers within the United States. Can criminals be rehabilitated? The hope is that while incarcerated the person will have such a lasting impression will avoid a second time in prison. This article will explore some of our thoughts on this matter and what some of the benefits to not only the person that has committed the crime but to the people of the U.S. as well.
Can a criminal be rehabilitated? When looking at the numbers they show that rehabilitating a prison is not highly successful. The sad outcome for most people that spend significant time behind bars is that once released they also immediately return to crime and subsequently back prison. This is not to say that all people do, because some people do come out and live a straight life.
There are around 2.3 million people incarcerated within the United States at any given time
Recidivism rate within the United States
The data supports a high recidivism rate in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice has done a report on the rate a person once released from prison will go back for another offense. You can read the entire report here.
The below statistics highlight the question of can criminals be rehabilitated?
The report states that about 4 in 0 prisoners that were released in 2005 were arrested at least once during their first year after release. And the numbers are slightly more favorable within 3 years. About 1 in 3 or 34% were arrested during the third year after release.
Can criminals be rehabilitated? Here are the key highlights of recidivism rates and why it is hard to say yes:
*Data is from the Bureau of Justice Statistics
- Estimated 68% of prisoners released were arrested within 3 years, 79% within a 6 year period, and 83% within 9 years.
- Of the 401,288 state prisoners that were released in 2005, they had an estimated 1,994,000 arrests within that 9 year period. That is an average of 5 arrests per released prisoner.
- 47% of prisoners who did not get arrested within that 3 year period of release did get arrested during years 4 through 9.
- 77% of released drug offenders were re-arrested for non-drug crimes within the 9-year study.
- 44% of released prisoners were arrested during the first 12 months of release. 24% were arrested during the 9 year period.
- 82% of prisoners arrested during that 9 year period got arrested in that first 3 years.
- 50% were arrested during the first year after release, but not arrested again during that 9 year follow-up period.
- Property offenders in the 9-year follow-up period were more likely to be arrested than released violent offenders.
- 80% of prisoners that got arrested in the first year after the release was arrested outside the state that released them, compared to 14% of prisoners arrested during year-9.
Types of Rehabilitation for offenders
As we can see punishment alone does not always work in the rehabilitation process. There needs to be more emphasis on trying to rehability criminals that fit the mold for change. Simply locking up offenders for long periods of time and then expecting them to rejoin society only shows a high recidivism rate which not only hurts the offender but society who pays for the inmates to stay locked up. The below are three rehabilitation programs that have been proven to help with offenders enter back into society with the general public
Parole is when the offender is released into society before the sentence is completed. There are certain conditions that must be met such as having to having to get a job, cannot use alcohol or drugs, and checking in with parole officers. This process helps the person readjust to society slowly.
Rehabilitation program within the prison
There are benefits in starting rehabilitation programs while the inmate is still in prison. Most facilities now offer some programs to adjust on the outside once they are released. These types of programs could be helping to acquire skills to get a job, substance abuse programs, facing common challenges, and more than the person can help use so they do not re-enter prison again.
It is sometimes smarter to not sentence someone to prison, but instead, send them to a substance abuse program. Judges are given the discretion in some areas to sentence someone to a treatment program instead of prison. Prison costs the United States an incredible amount of money each year. The cost could be reduced by sending offenders who are not violent and fit the criteria for treatment over the prison to a rehabilitation center instead.
Can Criminals be Rehabilitated? Not under the current prison system. The recidivism is still very high and it becomes a way for other inmates to take control and persuade people who could probably do better in a treatment based facility. Either way, we have a long way to go when it comes to the rehabilitation of our inmates.