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Should the U.S. criminal justice system value rehabilitation over retribution?

  • Punishment Fails. Rehabilitation Works

    “The only rational purpose for a prison is to restrain those who are violent, while we help them change their behavior and return to the community.”

    “More than 90% of prisoners return to the community within a few years of being incarcerated. That is why it is vitally important how we treat them while they are in prison.”

  • Punishment Fails. Rehabilitation Works

    “The only rational purpose for a prison is to restrain those who are violent, while we help them change their behavior and return to the community.”

    “More than 90% of prisoners return to the community within a few years of being incarcerated. That is why it is vitally important how we treat them while they are in prison.”

  • The better of the community

    Retribution does not teach anyone how to live, how to over come the problems they face or how to make progress. It instead tries to make the community fear punishment, however, to some people in the United States, prison is not a punishment but instead a blessing because they get somewhere to stay, and they aren't being tortured. Recidivism rates continue to rise, and if the United States focused on helping their people, the long term benefits for the community would out last any other benefits with rehabilitation

  • The U.S. criminal justice system should value rehabilitation over retribution.

    Although it is important for criminals to be punished for their crimes, in an ideal world, they should be able to re-enter society after having been rehabilitated. Former convicts should be able to avoid recidivism by re-integrating into society as law abiding citizens. In this way, they can benefit from their time in prison.

  • It is possible to achieve both

    The resolutions asks if rehabilitation should be valued over retribution. It does not ask us to choose one or the other. So, if you value retribution over rehabilitation, you are saying that you basically do not care about the health of that human being, but only that he pay for his crime. If you value rehabilitation over retribution, however, you are putting health first, and then later the criminal can pay penance for his transgressions. Therefore, the most just thing to do would be to value rehabilitation first. Set that before punishment, and when the individual is healthy, it will make the punishment that much more effective.

  • Yes, retribution serves no purpose.

    What does it value society to hold someone in jail because it is supposedly going to make the criminal pay for his crime? It is society that has to pay to keep the criminal locked up, and yes the criminal looses his freedom, but what is the point? We should only consider detaining someone when they are a further threat to society, otherwise any criminal should have the option of going through a rehabilitation program.

  • Yes, Rehablitation, not retribution is the Goal

    Even in the best societies, there are some people who are simply evil, like Charles Manson. But they just need to be kept away from society, not sought out for revenge. The question is not mercy for them or even rehabilitating them specifically for them. It's about us, and keeping our souls clean. Try to make them function in this society, keep them away from gentle people, but no revenge!

  • Value rehabilitation over retribution

    As much joy as it might give some people, we can not afford to punish our criminals any longer! The cost is too high! Rehabilitate them as efficiently and quickly as possible and send them on their way in hopes to never see them again! The sooner we start working on rehabilitating the sooner we'll become expert at it.

  • Recidivism rates are lower when convicts are taught life skills.

    I have worked in law enforcement for over a decade. The vast majority of chronic repeat offenders are the ones who have nothing else going for them. They have no education, no job skills, and usually have some kind of addiction or mental health problems that have not been treated. They have no hope of ever supporting themselves through legitimate (non-criminal) means, so they continue stealing, forging, defrauding, etc. Programs that give convicts job training and skills have been shown to cut recidivism rates.

  • Just Deserts, (Deserved Punishment, sorry not icecream 😜)

    We have gotten into the mindset that we need the best set of policies that will be the most effective. We have gotten away from the actual meaning of what it means to punish someone. It is not because we want them rehabilitated, or even that we want to deter as many people as possible. We punish someone because they have broken the law and they morally deserve a punishment. This does not mean we can't have policies that try to rehabilitate or deter would be criminals from committing crimes again. We can use those tools to the upmost extent, but they are only side effects of a deserved punishment.
    When the deserved punishment is no longer valued it leads to so much injustice.
    On the Rehabilitation side, if that is our focus, then criminals are no longer given a fair, proportional punishment, but are now held custody until they have passed a panel of judges that have deemed them ready for society. Norway is an excellent application of this kind of system. Anders Breivik murdered 77 people and only received 21 years in prison. Not even spending 100 days per murder. He'll be getting out of prison when he is deemed rehabilitated, not when he has served his fair sentence.
    However if we only punish to deter criminals from committing future crimes it also leads to injustice. Because it's no longer a fair punishment, it's the harshest punishment it takes to make people not want to do it. Singapore is an example of this in many of their policies. Outrageous fines for chewing gum and not flushing the toilet. (Check Business Insider for more details)
    Retribution should never be voted for or against due to whether it is effective or not. Effectiveness is not the reason why we punish. We punish criminals because it is deserved. Now you may argue that all the statistics say retribution doesn't work. America is a common example of this. One of the Highest recidivism rates in the world. The stats are impressive, but this is a flawed view of retribution, it is no longer focusing on a system that dishes out deserved punishment. It is a system that has gone the effectiveness route. They are desperately trying to see what works best but ignoring the actual reason why we have a Criminal Justice System.
    The Point of Criminal Justice Systems is to give out a just, fair, proportional, and most importantly, deserved, punishment. To focus on a deserved Punishment is to focus on Justice.

  • A Sense of Deterrence

    We can't assume that all people in society are only stopped from doing crimes because of their morality; in order to have a more realistic view of the world, we just also consider that many also stop themselves from committing crimes because we fear the punishment; If I wanted to steal, a major deterrence factor would be that I would get caught and face consequences. Similarly, a world where rehabilitation is always valued over the sense of punishment is a world where criminals have a reduced sense of deterrence to do crime. Ultimately, this leads to more crime in society


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