The Myth of Rehabilitation
The Myth of Rehabilitation
I. REHABILITATION (p. 5)
A. The Belief in Rehabilitation
While in collège and graduate school, I read several articles and write-ups about thé négative aspects of thé American criminal justice System, but it ail seemed académie, not something that applied to every day life.
However, when I went to work for thé Tennessee Department of Corrections in 1975 as a work release counselor, and later as a teacher, a guard, and as a Chaplain, I soon became aware of several faults or weaknesses in thé System.
Our courts allow escape risks out on bond (like Ira Einhorn from Pittsburg, who still has not been brought to justice 30 years after killing his girlfriend and putting her body in a trunk) (CBS, 2000, June).
Parole boards release murderers and violent sex offenders, such as Kenneth Allen McDuff (Lavergne, 1999) and Arthur Shawcross, to again prey on thé public. Shawcross, who murdered two children, was released after only 15 years (Wilson, 1995, p. 331) (which is absurd), and in no time at ail he began killing women, for a total of at least ten.
I also found thé ridiculously light sentences often given for terrible crimes to be surprising, especially when reduced even more by parole boards.
Another weakness is thé insanity défense, which in itself is insane, and probably should be eliminated. Most of those who hâve used it successfully to "beat thé charge" altogether, or at least to be sent to a hospital instead of a prison, are not insane nor were they temporarily insane at thé time of thé crime.
On thé other hand, I met several inmates who obviously were insane, nevertheless, they ended up with long prison terms. Often those that thé insanity défense was meant to help do not get to use it, while those who do use it successfully are seemingly just manipulating thé System (Caplain, 1984, p. 336).
One aspect of thé criminal justice System that especially bothered me was ail thé emphasis on rehabilitation. In spite of ail thé enthusiasm for it in some quarters, I soon realized that it was basically a joke. There were educational programs, counseling programs, and many other things that were totally ineffective as far as changing any inmates for thé better.
Of course, prisoners liked thé TV s, stéréos, and other things that were fun or enjoyable, but thèse things certainly were not making them better people. I was also concerned that so many people not connected with prisons actually believed in and supported thé entire rehabilitation concept.
In August of 1998,1 turned on thé télévision set (ABC Nightline). A well known commentator and a prominent leader were discussing American prisons. Although both men were obviously intelligent and well educated, they continued to discuss thé need for more and better methods of rehabilitation for prisoners, as though rehabilitation actually existed. Unfortunately, this misapprehension is not unusual. Many intelligent people believe that rehabilitating criminals is actually possible.