Should the criminal justice system focus more on rehabilitation than retribution?

  • Rehabilitation or retribution

    My husband was arrested for a DUI in 2005. He was on probation for another DUI when it happened. He was incarcerated for 3 yrs. Which turned the lives of his wife and children completely upside down. While he was in prison, he became addicted to heroine which is easily obtained in the prison. He came out worse than he was when he went in. Now he is incarcerated again on a different drug offense. We finally divorced this year in January 2013. We had a great marriage and he was a wonderful man until he went to prison and became hooked on the drugs. If he had been sent to a rehabilitation facility where they focus on alcoholism instead of a prison where inmates can readily get drugs, this may have changed this family of four which is now a family of three. My now x-husband suffered but so did his wife and three children. It is 8 years later and we still haven't put the pieces of our lives together. We lost our home, the rest of his family disowned not only him but our whole family. It hurts me so much but what's worse is how it hurts my children! They were so innocent, ages 3, 10, & 12 which makes this such a tragedy! I strongly hope this will be taken into consideration when deciding on sentences for alcohol and drug offenders. They need rehabilitation, not prison! If he would have had that, we would probably all be the family we were.

  • They are people.

    Criminals are people too. They deserve a second chance, but only if they admit they messed up, and are ready to go into the world again. A life sentence is wrong on every level, unless they deserve it then they shouldn't be in there for long. Give them a chance.

  • We need to provide mandatory rehabilitation facilities. Imprison the serious violent offenders such as rapists, murderers, pedophiles and rehabilitate the drug offenders.

    Our Justice System is failing and not doing enough to rehabilitate, basically causing the issue of repeat offenders. We have a society that is suffering from lack of parental supervision, poverty, low-education, and gang related communities. Many of today's generation has no moral education which results in delinquency then turns into an adult-repeat offender because they do not know any different way to live. We need to stop throwing the key away and start developing rehabilitation units that are mandatory and provide many beneficial programs to help teach these "lost offenders" how to depend on themselves and not the system or the criminal life of an offender.

  • The criminal justice system should put more focus on rehabilitation than retribution.

    Time and time again, logic and statistics prove rehabilitation to be more effective than retribution. Take Norway, for example. They value rehabilitation very highly, have abolished the death penalty, and have stopped sentencing criminals to life in prison. Now, while some may let their emotions get in the way and complain about murderers freely walking the streets, let's take a look at Norway's impressive track record. Only a 20% recidivism rate, compared to the 65% US rate, some of the lowest murder records in the world, and reasonably low prison populations. Rehabilitation is a system that works, whether we like it or not.

  • Rehabilitation not incarceration.

    Substance abuse is NOT a criminal problem it's an emotional problem and if we continue to turn a blind eye to the problem we are destroying our own race as human beings. If we want to see changes then we have to change how people are viewing crime and rehabilitation.

  • Another wrong does not make a right

    I am not religious but i think the old xtian proverb "if not for the grace of god there go I...". What that means in secular terms is that if any of us were in a desperate situation we may be compelled to do a criminal act.
    Yes violent offenders should be segregated from society for public safety. But even violent criminals can be rehabilitated. The US is in the minority in the world justice systems that has long sentences for non violent crime, life imprisonment or death for violence that ends anothers life. Murder is a horrible thing. However in prison systems that concentrate on rehabilitation and do not have solitary confinement, there is a lower recidivism rate. Personally, god forbid, if I had to stay in an american prison for even just ten years I'd rather be given my last meal, cigarette, my last words, and be put in front of firing squad.


  • Yes but we have to change the name from Justice to something that doesn't also provide a from of retribution to the victims.

    One of the core definitions of justice is the proportionate form of punishment in relation to the crime. Punishment does have value as a deterrent to most but there are issues that can cause the reduction in influence of the deterrent.
    There should be a form of rehabilitation but we should be careful not to presupposes that all errant behavior has an treatable origin. There is no evidence that I am aware of to support that all errant behavior is derived from an errant source and if there were, would we not try to treat the errant person before a violation and in doing so, would we then be infringing on an individuals right to privacy?

  • A Life Lesson

    Instead of sitting around, they would be taught something they could take out to the real world and be a productive part in society. Sure there should be some retribution, they did something wrong, but being spoiled with a place to sleep and three meals a day will do minimal.

  • You lose hope.

    Hope is motivation. It gives us strive to move forward and succeed, to reach for our dreams and aspirations. When an individual goes to jail for the first time, largely they lose a great deal of this valuable commodity. For example, imagine an 18 or 19 year old kid, smart, a life full of opportunity, in his freshman year of an elite college, running a full scholarship, avidly volunteering 20 hours a week a clinic and food bank for the impovershed. But, he has been caught up in the wrong side of the law; he smokes marijuana. After an exam at 10 pm, this kid comes home to cops searching his dorm drawers and clothes strewn about, immediately put under arrest. They have found a pill of adderal and some paraphanelia along with marijuana. Now he goes to jail, never been in trouble his whole life. What happens now? He goes to jail. As he takes his mugshots, the consequences hit him. He is confused, dazed; this is going to be on his record. He will lose his scholarship. There may be academic probation. He loses the motivation he had pushing him to work as hard as he has. When he comes out in the morning, having slept on cold tiles surrounded by an unfamiliar and terrifying environment, he does not care for anything anymore. How can I be a doctor, how can i hope to pursue my dreams? Who would hire me? I dont have a scholarship, even a part time job will be hard to find to pay my tuition. No longer caring, he considers dropping out. He decided there's no reason to stop smoking, he has no deterrent, it's already on his record so it doesn't matter. He can't even continue the volunteering he loves at the hospital, they release him. What has the system done to this boy, is there even a point in holding his dreams anymore? He hasn't learned a lesson, a lesson would be pointless. The retribution has convinced him of that. Maybe if the system was more rehabilitative, it could have helped him. I wonder he would do.. Well for now, he's writing this post. But what of the thousands of others just like him?

  • Silence is not the answer

    Yes they need to focus more on rehabilitation as that is the only sane way of addressing the issue at hand. Often retribution leads to greater offence and does not help anyone. Locking someone up in a cell will not change a person for the better. Addressing their issue and considering the various reasons as to why they committed an offence may be a great way into recovery.

  • definition of criminal justice system

    criminal justice system: a series of organizations involved in apprehending, prosecuting, defending, sentencing, and jailing those involved in crimes - including law enforcement, attorneys, judges, courts of law, prisons"
    nowhere in this definition does it give the criminal justice system the choice of sending people to a rehabilitation center so if they dont have the choice than rehabilitation shouldnt be used

    also i have proof that rehabilitation doesnt work but is just a way for the U.S. to spend more money

  • Crime Gene

    What about people who have the crime gene. Let's face exists. There are criminals out there and maybe they come from a line of criminals. If they have this crime gene in them, which most of them probably do. then there is no way to rehabilitate them. It's in their genes. The only way to get rid of it is to breed it out of them. And that's just wrong.

  • Once a criminal, always a criminal.

    My younger was molested by our grandfather who swore he would kill her if she said anything. Well she did say something and did he go to jail? NO! The court declared him mentally ill and sent him to a hospital. He was in the hospital for about 4 months when he was finally released. He found my sister when he got out......
    If he would have been imprisoned like the rapist he was, my sister would still be alive.

  • You should punish criminals

    I believe that criminals should be punished, because of their fragile mental state they need to be kept under control. I agree with the point saying that if the government pushed rehabilitation over correction potential criminals might think that acting violently is okay. Mass murders destroy the life of a lot of people with little to no sympathy, that is not right.

  • Retribution deters crime

    A retributive justice system deters crime by giving potential criminals a good reason not to commit crime. Focusing on rehabilitation would send the message that we are going easy on crime, reducing the effect of deterrence. In a study done by the National Center for Policy Analysis it was found that "15 crimes are eliminated for each additional prisoner locked up." If this isn't a good reason to stay retributive, I don't know what is.

  • The whole idea of punishment is retributive in nature

    Punishment by its definition is the authorized imposition of deprivations—of freedom or privacy or other goods to which the person otherwise has a right, or the imposition of special burdens—because the person has been found guilty of some illegal defiance, that is usually associated with encroachment of other people’s rights. Anything outside this is secondary effect or consequence and not the basis of punishment.

  • Should the criminal justice system focus more on rehabilitation than retribution?

    Retribution only causes anger.

    Taking away a persons humanity and respect can only do a few things to them. It may punish them a little but it will mostly make them mad. There is only so much a person can take before they become mad at the world. Them being mad at the world will cause them to mostly attack society again. Having a retributive criminal justice system since the 1970s has led to nearly 65% of all people who are released from jail or prison to return within the first five years.

  • "Justice is the first virtue of social institutions."

    -John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. The first responsibility of the justice system is to ensure justice and to keep criminals from harming civilians, not to help them get a job and have a good life. When a person commits a crime they must have fair judgement and punishment for their actions, they must recognize that what they have done is wrong. Punishment is the tool for teaching criminals
    I am not saying that we shouldn't have any rehabilitation at all, for it does work in some circumstances, but the main thing that the justice system should be focusing on is retribution and punishment. Of course the best thing will always be a balance, a system that includes both aspects, but what if we had to choose only one or the other?
    First, imagine a society with a system based entirely on rehabilitation. Someone commits a crime, and instead of going to prison they go to a rehab center, learn a trade, get their school paid for, and get help finding a job. What will ultimately end up happening is that many people see that criminals are getting rewarded, and they decide that it might be worth it to risk committing a small crime. Sure your recidivism rates might be extremely low, but you have to face legions of new criminals who realize that the benefits out-way the risks.
    If we have a justice system that focuses only on retribution, you will have a much more just society. Punishments act as a deterrence to keep people from committing or recommitting crimes. You may not have a bunch of happy prisoners being released and going on to be a great benefit to society, but that is not the purpose of the justice system.
    After reading through the comments on the affirmative side of this debate I have found many arguing that punishment is somehow "not fair". The obvious truth is quite the opposite: when someone does something bad they get their just and fair punishment. This fulfills the purpose to satisfy justice and to ensure the safety and well-being of honest law-abiding citizens.

  • Justice must take its place.

    In 1972 Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote that "punishment for the sake of retribution is not permissible under the Eighth Amendment." That is absurd. The element of retribution does not make punishment cruel and unusual, it makes punishment intelligible. It distinguishes punishment from therapy. Rehabilitation may be an ancillary result of punishment, but we punish to serve justice, by giving people what they deserve. Retribution ought to be valued above rehabilitation in the United States criminal justice system.

  • It's a useless waste of money and time

    -Rehab makes life easier, what will stop the people below the poverty line from committing crimes to receive this free program? They already do for prison, but rehab is much more luxurious than prison.
    -People shouldn’t commit crimes in the first place, so what use is jail if they aren’t being punished?
    -Why should tax payers pay for the rehabilitation of a person that has committed a crime? People abiding by the U.S. laws shouldn’t be responsible for these people. If they want to go to rehab, people should choose if they want to or not. What is the point of jail if people go in knowing they will get it easy?

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Anonymous says2013-03-30T16:55:21.350
I think that we shouldn't make rehabilitaion more important thab retribution. They deserve to be punished because they knew what they did was wrong
Rayze says2013-04-06T18:37:49.577
Retribution does not exist in the criminal justice system. What does exist in a criminal justice system is punishment, and using the term retribution for the word punishment is a perversion of the definition of retribution. Even the etymology the latin word "retribuo" I pay you back is different than punishment.