If people can be rehabilitated and brought back into society then that is ideal. But I do think deterrence and incapacitation should be considered important. For deterrence's sake even if someone is rehabilitated for the more serious offenses they should still have to remain in prison for a set amount of time regardless. For the sake of incapacitation for the more serious offenses we should have to be all the more sure the person is rehabilitated and for some crimes we may not want to take any chances at all and sentence people to life w/o parole.
I say we put the gang bangers into the war zone and bring back our Military men and women. When the gang bangers are over there they don't like each other they will either A, learn to get along and fight to survive or they will kill each other off, or they will come together and bond and kill the enemies, think they won't need training, they would earn their rights back into the United States after they are done fighting and gaining respect for themselves and life. Since they want to go and kill for the fun of it here. They should go and kill the Taliban.
It has been a long-standing debate as to how to treat individuals who break the
law in our societies, especially those who commit gregarious acts against other
humans. Some feel that harsh and rigid punishment effectively works to deter
others from committing similar acts. Evidence has shown this does not hold true
in a vast majority of criminal convictions. A system that mandates and promotes
sincere efforts to reform criminals and improve their sense of self, will
gather momentum and be a far better deterrent to excessive crime as opposed to
simple incarceration. Incarceration often teaches a criminal to be a better
criminal when we should be teaching them to be better citizens.
Yes, society would be much better if prison was reformed to rehabilitate criminals. The rate of offenders that return, which is very high, would go down. This would mean less crime. Also, ex-convicts would be able to better re-enter society after being released. All of these things serve to improve society.
I believe if prisons were reformed to rehabilitate criminals and those criminals could re-enter society without their past following them it could improve society. I believe the best first step, however, is to stop imprisoning people who don't belong there in the first place. The War on Drugs has jailed many people who were functioning in society quite fine until the justice system gave them a record, so I think it is better to reassess who belongs in prison before attempting to reform the prisoners.
If prison becomes the equivalent of rehab, what is the incentive to not commit crime? As many who oppose the death penalty note, a life sentence is a disincentive enough to commit certain crimes, but if any sentence is just "rehab", why would you not want to commit certain crimes if your conscience allows it? The upside? You don't get caught. You get caught, you go to rehab. As imperfect as the penal system is, it's function must remain as a disincentive for some to commit crime and to establish a priori that rules of society are not without consequence.