Do Jails do their Job of Rehabilitation?

Prisons became into effect right after the American Revolution and has been a pivotal part of America’s society to this day.  One of the main purposes behind prison besides a form of punishment is to give rehabilitation to those who have broken the law so that once they are let back into society, they can abide by the rules and live as an every day American. Recently, America’s incarceration system has received a lot of flak for their extremely high recidivism rate (rearrest of criminals). This makes me wonder, is America really doing its best to rehabilitate inmates?

An article on recidivism from the National Institute of Justice released data showing 68% of prisoners released within three years will return to jail. In five years that number jumps to around 75%. On top of that, the 50% of prisoners that were rearrested, are then arrested again after their first year out.  This is a lot of inmates going in and out of jail which defeats the purpose of incarceration if the jails cannot properly rehabilitate their inmates.

Many prisons have begun to bring in psychiatrist to help deal with the mental aspect of things and create classroom settings to teach prisoners to read, write and further educate themselves. One prison has provided inmates with the chance of getting an education in business. These prisoners then take MBA-level courses such as learning how to write business plans as well as give business pitches. This program goes by the name of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) and has already been extremely successful. They have over 1,000 graduates, and almost all of the inmates find a job within 90 days of being released from prison. On top of that, their recidivism rate is less than 7%.

Enriching programs like PEP is what America’s incarceration system needs. Instead of allowing criminals to sit in jail, we should focus more on their rehabilitation than anything and give prisoners a way to make a beneficial impact in the community legally. Unfortunately a majority of prisons have not incorporated programs such as PEP and recidivism is still a problem that plagues our incarceration system to this day. Response To Intervention (RTI) has paired up with Penn State University’s Justice Center for Research and have been conducting a study on the recidivism problem. The study involves 700 individuals who have had a criminal history. The study will involve conducting interviews that will take place about 20-25 years from the participant first arrested. The goal of this study is to examine the main effects behind recidivism in the community and help lead to the decrease of the recidivism rate. As of now, our incarceration system has shown a lack of effort in regards to rehabilitating their inmates.

Links:

Rehabilitative Effects of Imprisonment

http://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism/pages/welcome.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/11/prison-entrepreneurship-program_n_6654998.html

http://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism/pages/welcome.aspx

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Do Jails do their Job of Rehabilitation?

  1. Brendan Mironov

    First and foremost, I just wanted to applaud you for writing about such a controversial topic. During the spring semester I took a course on the American Justice System (Criminology 100) as an elective partially because I wanted to answer the precise question that you are writing about in your blog post. In that course, I learned that over 50 percent of sentenced inmates were in jail because of some drug related offense. Many people argue that if a majority of the prison population is in jail for drugs, maybe jail and prison is not the best place for rehabilitation. Instead a rehab facility might be more effective. As far as programs like the PEP program, I agree that the prison systems should teach practical skills to inmates who will hopefully use these skills to have a positive impact on society. However, some may argue that if people are in jail as a form of punishment, why should we offer them the PEP programs that may not be available to people who have not committed a crime? How would taxpayers feel knowing that their money is going towards a program like this?

  2. Anna Strahle

    I think your post was very interesting because I agree that prisons should be less about punishment and more about progressing the inmates as individuals. The United States prison system is far overpopulated, underfunded, and disorganized. Norway is a country that is known to have a very successful prison system, one of the reasons being that it’s recidivism rate is only 20%. That is 50% lower than the rate the United States has, so clearly we are doing something wrong. In order to help the prisoners be a beneficial asset to society once they are released, the prison tries to keep everything very similar to the outside world. Unlike the U.S., there are no bars on windows, and they even allow knives to be stocked in the kitchens. Along with the far more comfortable setting, the prisoners can learn woodworking and other vocational jobs. There is even a recording studio included in the prison. I really liked what one psychologist said: the prisoners are going to act like animals if that is what they are looked upon as. According to Norway, the punishment is no longer having your freedom, and they don’t need any additional punishments.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/why-norways-prison-system-is-so-successful-2014-12

  3. Imaani Allen

    I agree that our prison system is a mess. America has the highest percentage of incarceration rates than any other country in the world. I thinks that it very sad that recently released prisoners will end up back in jail within three years. It’s a viscous cycle which in part is due to the lack of opportunities available to individuals once they re-enter society. According to an article by NBC href=”http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35263313/ns/business-careers/t/unable-get-jobs-freed-inmates-return-jail/#.V_zlU48rLIU”>NBC most employers refuse to hire someone with a criminal past. Which is exactly why recently released inmates are less likely to be employed and they have to find other ways to support themselves and their families. Even if it means doing a job that could potentially get them in trouble with the law. It is time for our prison systems to change or else things will continue to get worse. The governments needs to provide more funding for enrichment classes so that prisoners can gain new skills which will help them in the society and encourage them to stay on the right path.

    1. Imaani Allen

      I agree that our prison system is a mess. America has the highest percentage of incarceration rates than any other country in the world. I thinks that it very sad that recently released prisoners will end up back in jail within three years. It’s a viscous cycle which in part is due to the lack of opportunities available to individuals once they re-enter society. According to an article by NBC href=”http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35263313/ns/business-careers/t/unable-get-jobs-freed-inmates-return-jail/#.V_zlU48rLIU”> nbcnews most employers refuse to hire someone with a criminal past. Which is exactly why recently released inmates are less likely to be employed and they have to find other ways to support themselves and their families. Even if it means doing a job that could potentially get them in trouble with the law. It is time for our prison systems to change or else things will continue to get worse. The governments needs to provide more funding for enrichment classes so that prisoners can gain new skills which will help them in the society and encourage them to stay on the right path.

      1. Imaani Allen

        I agree that our prison system is a mess. America has the highest percentage of incarceration rates than any other country in the world. I thinks that it very sad that recently released prisoners will end up back in jail within three years. It’s a viscous cycle which in part is due to the lack of opportunities available to individuals once they re-enter society. According to an article by NBC most employers refuse to hire someone with a criminal past. Which is exactly why recently released inmates are less likely to be employed and they have to find other ways to support themselves and their families. Even if it means doing a job that could potentially get them in trouble with the law. It is time for our prison systems to change or else things will continue to get worse. The governments needs to provide more funding for enrichment classes so that prisoners can gain new skills which will help them in the society and encourage them to stay on the right path.

        Link to article http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35263313/ns/business-careers/t/unable-get-jobs-freed-inmates-return-jail/#.V_zlU48rLIU

  4. Anthony Mitchell

    Wow, this is quite a fantastic topic for discussion. Thank you for bringing it up! I see there has been some comments already about it, which is good because it definitely should be talked about. To the initial question in your title line, I think that prisons do and they don’t do their job of rehabilitation (leaning heavily towards the latter, not the former). Here is why: THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! Major companies, like Starbucks (whom I am a semi-proud rewards member) uses prisoners to manufacture some of their products. Being in prison today is basically the most modern form of slavery that we have. I mean, inmates are being paid cents for every hour they work, an integral part of a large production scheme for privatized production, and essentially don’t have much choice in the matter. Let’s use Angola State Penitentiary back in Louisiana (my home state) for example. Inmates in Angola manage and maintain the grounds, produce amazing woodwork and artistry, and are paid outrageously low amounts for their work. This is rehabilitation; this is cheap manual labor! However, there are places that the system is working and further steps that can be taken to provide technical, educational, and transferable skills to inmates that they can then apply once they are out of prison. This is a prison by prison and inmate by inmate case because no two combinations will be the same, so a personalized approach is best, not a one-size-fit-all take to solving the issue.

    http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/5-second-rule-rules-sometimes-#1
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/230260/11-828-making-prisons-work-skills-for-rehabilitation.pdf
    http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-legal-jobs-can-learn-prison.php

  5. Avery Elizabeth Holland

    I found this to be a really interesting topic because it was extremely unique. You did extensive research on it and used statistics which really made your argument valid. I had no idea that there were programs like PEP that helped prisoners find jobs once they got out of jail. I think that is a great idea to ensure that they can become contributing members of society once they serve their sentences.I do think, however, that you could have added a conclusion to give your blog closure and wrap up all your ideas into a short final paragraph. I felt as though the post ended abruptly and I wanted to read more. Other than that you laid out your ideas nicely and picked a good topic. I found a book that talks about some steps prisoners to find jobs after they serve their time. Check it out here .

  6. Jessy Severino

    Your blog post really caught my attention I’ve always been a firm believer that prisons are to help individuals who have committed crimes to serve time and get a chance to become better citizens. Reading your post I was able to learn a lot on the topic of inmates and rehabilitation. I was curious to find out more on the topic and found and article that sheds light on this topic. In the article it talks a bit about how for some inmates being in prison doesn’t cause any change in their behavior and for other individuals it is enough to get them to change their ways. http://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/rehabilitative-effects-of-imprisonment/

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