Our definition of providing a way to keep our communities safe has changed throughout the centuries. At one time, our way of dealing with criminals was to beat them or humiliate them for their crimes. Now we’ve evolved, and we lock people away for months or even years at a time. One thing that is wrong with this system is that it doesn’t allow criminals to build on skills that could help them to assimilate back into society when or if they released. Rehabilitation is one thing that can help with this while also lowering recidivism rates by providing mental health care who couldn’t afford it and by teaching inmates skills that will help them find jobs when they get out. If rehabilitation is the best option for everyone involved, why are so many people against it?There are lots of different rehabilitation programs inmates can be a part of.
One of the most common is parole. It is commonly used by the justice system to try and seamlessly integrate inmates back into society (CITE 7). One of the main components of parole is the parolee having to check in with their assigned corrections officer however often the judge assigned. Treatment is also used in this manner for those battling addictions or mental illnesses that very likely were a part of the crime they committed (CITE 7). Treatment often becomes a condition of someone’s parole, to make sure they’re on the right track. Another common rehabilitation program is in-prison Rehabilitation programs.
Most prisons offer some programs that help inmates adjust to life outside of prison (CITE 7). These programs are often ones that help offenders overcome substance abuse problems, mental and physical programs, language courses, adult education, and many other programs (CITE 7). Vocational programs are also beneficial because a 2016 study showed that those who participated were 28% more likely to be hired at a good job once they are released (CITE 3). These programs are beneficial to society as a whole because we will have people coming out of prison who can add to society rather than take from it. The cost of recidivism is very high in the U.S. but no one wants to talk about it.
Housing inmates in state-run prisons cost taxpayers thousands upon thousands of dollars every year. In 2005, U.S. recidivism rates were at 67%, so imagine what they’d be like now (CITE 2)? Recidivism rates are high because no one wants to hire an ex-con; they are thought of as less than and uneducated.
Rehabilitation programs would lower costs to $1,400-$1,744 per inmate for education rather than $8,700 to $9,700 per inmate to incarcerate them for a year (CITE 3i). This would save taxpayers money each year because they wouldn’t have to pay for someone going into the system when they already went through it. Making rehabilitation the main focus instead of solely incarceration means that inmates who participate in a correctional program have 43% less of a chance of recidivism (CITE 3b). “Furthermore, rehabilitation programs have proven to be much more cost effective than incarceration, allowing governments to more effectively distribute limited resources (CITE 7).
“Overall this means that taxpayers will not have to waste their money paying for someone to go through the system multiple times as many times as they are now. As of 2014, data showed that about two-thirds of released inmates are arrested within three years of when they were released (CITE 8). This idea has the potential to lower federal and state taxes in the long run. Rehabilitation is also a way to lower the number of drug offenses in the system. We have thousands of drug offenders clogging up the system while also not getting the treatment they need.
As of a count in 2009, 52.2% of inmates in federal prisons were being held for drug-related offenses (CITE 2). Some say that rehabilitation centers would be a better way to deal with our drug offenders rather than locking them up with everyone else. If we take this approach, we are helping them to overcome an addiction and give them the tools to stay clean rather than thrust them back into that life when they are released. This will, therefore, free up room in prisons for more violent offenders and hopefully help to avoid overcrowding. Some experts have also stated that family services could be all that’s necessary to turn these people around.
Family services would include family visiting the inmate either at a treatment facility or in prison, family counseling if essential and other various family activities (CITE 2). Studies have shown that family services can help inmates maintain healthy family relationships, help establish healthy relationships and reduce recidivism by including these programs (CITE 2).