Prison Approaches to Rehabilitation

Since my major is rehabilitation and human services, I thought that the particular topic of prisons approaches to rehabilitation was interesting. In the criminal justice system today, there are many different issues that should be addressed. One that I find to be major is the rehabilitation in prison. Therapeutic communities are very necessary in the society today to assure that everyone gets the help they need no matter the circumstance. People who are convicted often become mad at the system, and do not want to get the help they need through rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy after or during imprisonment, addiction or illness. Simply put, rehabilitation is needed to help people get back on their feet, so that they can live their lives to their full potentials. Therapeutic communities are holistic residential environments that are designed to promote the personal growth and development of the residents (Schneider, 2012, pg 269.) With this being said these communities in prisons provide opportunities for offenders to experience a highly structured setting that models a cooperative prosocial environment. (Schneider, 2012, pg 269.)

Prison therapeutic communities have been implemented into many states, this is good because it gives the offenders the opportunity to get the help they need in the rehabilitation process. “Convicts argue against the rehabilitation effect of incarceration because it is inconceivable that they could do otherwise. Inmates submit to imprisonment unwillingly and they find it unpleasant.” (Tittle, 1974). With this being said, the inmates or people who are convicted to not want to get the rehabilitation that is needed for them to have a better life because they are angry that they were put in jail. Along with not wanting to do the rehabilitation, “inmates manipulate prison staffs by complaining of the contradiction between custodial and rehabilitative functions and by criticizing the failure of prisons to live up to their ideals.” (Tittle, 1974). This simply means that the inmates do not think that the rehabilitation services they are getting meet their standards, and they don’t want to continue with them because of that.

I believe that we as a society need to come up with a solution to this problem. People need rehabilitation for a reason. Even if inmates are fighting to get the help they need, I believe that we need to find a way to get them to participate in the rehabilitation. Doing this will help them in the long run, as when they do get out of prison, it will help them get back to the life they once had.

Tittle, C. R. (1974). Prisons and rehabilitation: The inevitability of disfavor. Social Problems, 385-395.

Schneider, F.W, Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012).  Applied Psychology (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


  1. Research has shown us that antisocial attitudes is highly indicative of later criminal behavior (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012). Therapeutic community in prison in part helps to address these types of attitudes, essentially targeting the problem at its core and promoting change (Schneider et al., 2012). Indeed, a therapeutic community in a person setting can help prepare inmates for return to the outside world, and also hopefully a successful return, with marked change in poor behavior. However, a therapeutic community is specifically designed for those inmates who have recognized a problem and are ready and motivated to make a change (Schneider et al., 2012). Unfortunately, as you stated, inmates are often disgruntled about their convictions and subsequent prison sentences that they refuse rehabilitative measures such as therapeutic community. For those individuals who refuse rehabilitation, prison seems like it would become just another part of the wheel. In other words, their situations may just continue to go round and round, without change, due to a lack of motivation and acceptance of a need for rehabilitation. While prison is a form of punishment, offenders who cannot recognize a problem and refuse to change will likely become repeat offenders and resume their usual path of destruction following release from prison.

    Schneider, Frank W., Gruman, Jamie A., and Coutts, Larry M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Second Edition. Sage.

  2. Dorianna Lordi

    I believe that the whole goal of prison itself should be to rehabilitate an individual and prepare them to re-enter society healthier than when they entered prison. This is certainly not the chase in the U.S., as prison is often viewed purely as a punishment. Which does not actually teach the offender much and contributes to even more problems and resentment for the offender. This issue is certainly complicated and must be addressed from the root of the problem, which I believe to be our governments justice system. People are in prison for varying reasons and there are tremendous inequalities for those sentenced. The prison system should focus more on rehabilitation and treating the individual because our current system is not working.

  3. Temeka M Lytle

    Rehabilitation programs have proven successful in numerous situations, including fighting addiction as you mentioned. However, how can society help individuals that do not want help? The reason a man/woman may be incarcerated varies greatly. I do not believe a single solution can be applied to the entire penal system to combat the problem of inmates refusing rehabilitative services. For example, if a murderer or thief refusing to disclose the reasoning behind his/her crime, what advice can any professional give to decrease the likelihood of that person repeating the crime? Yes, America’s justice system is flawed. Unfortunately, this is a complex problem that will require multiple layers of solutions. I am not against providing services and programs to inmates in order to promote a successful transition back into society. However, I do not believe simply having these systems in place will reduce the rate of repeat offenders. The first step to a solution is acknowledging there is a problem. As you stated in your blog, there is definitely a problem with our prison system. Good luck in your future rehabilitation and human services studies!

  4. Jennie Karlene Walter

    I agree that rehabilitation in prisons is an incredibly underrated and important topic. I also totally agree that rehabilitation communities are important for so many people. They help drug addicts who literally need to be taken out of the environment that they are in in order to get the help they need. They also help people who are mentally ill or even suicidal so that they can stay safe while they are rehabilitated. They are incredibly important for inmates because they can help them have a more enjoyable time in prison as well as help them for when they reenter back into society so that they can reenter sooner and have success after they reenter. I also agree that society needs to come up with a solution to inmates not wanting to receive rehabilitation because they are angry for being put in prison in the first place because that just creates a viscous never ending cycle.

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