|Our focus is upon REHABILITATION!...
At some point in world history there began to emerge increasing talk of a shift in focus to
include the notion of rehabilitation. These efforts have had some positive effect in the
sense that a greater society begins to 'humanize' the convict as an individual perhaps
worth redeeming. Unfortunately the incorporation of rehabilitation as a factor for balance
has resulted in little positive outcome.
It is likely widely perceived that failed efforts to sustain an effective rehabilitation
component can be directly related to lack of resources both financial and human. To the
extent this perception is correct it is largely irrelevant to the real problem. If efforts to
rehabilitate fail, the default perception of society is that most inmates are both incorrigible
and incapable of positive change. Following a circular chain of tragic misperceptions,
failure becomes a function of a self-fulfilling prophecy seeming inextricably institutionalized.
The problem does not derive from an unresponsive new breed of criminal; the problem lies
in the methods employed in the attempted implementation. The problem with current
procedures (intended to rehabilitate) is the attempted employment of methods and service
delivery strategies identical to those techniques associated with the imposition of
punishment. Current methods equate to the imposition of rehabilitation. "You will take this
for your own good" becomes the unspoken mantra.
As it is with punishment it now has become so with rehabilitation- both seek change
originating from a source outside the realm of the individual. A finite collection of activities
and therapy options are combined into a cocktail of which consumption is mandatory. The
net effect remains the forfeiture of individual rights of citizenry, as opposed to the
structured environment in which the offender can regroup in a setting where there is
temporary and partial relief of all associated obligations to the 'outside world' .
Failure of Rehabilitation
Many would argue the criminal forfeited the luxury of options upon commission of a crime.
The inmate does indeed forfeit certain privileges; this is not inconsistent with the notion of humane
and prudent justice. The distinction between a 'right' and a 'privilege' is the subject of long-standing
debate. Human rights remain constant while 'privilege' presents as that which is manipulated by
process of compulsory incarceration. If to be consistent with principled justice it is the right of any
incarcerated person to exercise the options and obligations of privilege in patterns applicable to
post-prison life. (Incidentally, extra cigarettes, longer breaks, and even 'time-off for good behavior'
are not priveledges...merely the consequences of compliance)
If to analyze the lifestyle of the incarcerated individual it would be found there is little room to
exercise self determination. The majority of daily activities could be classified as an idea of
somebody else. While a regimented routine may serve well in a prison environment it has few
applications to post-prison life.
In the absence of opportunities transferable to society, perverted alliances form as self-determination
quickly assumes practices most counter-productive. That perceived as rehabilitation is actually
nothing close. A small morsel to show for societies efforts is often all that remains at the end of any
extended incarceration. The sweetness is usually merely imagined as it is at this point we can only
hope the former convict will successfully return to a society in which he/she has likely never really felt
the sense of belonging.