Elisha has Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology, as well as a Bachelor's in Marketing. She has extensive experience creating & teaching curricula in college level education, history, English, business and marketing.
Nature vs. Nurture
Criminal rehabilitation is based on the ideas that people aren't inherently bad. Instead, they are taught to make wrong decisions by environmental influences. This is the classic nature versus nurture argument. Are people born bad or are they made that way due to poverty, bad parenting, or abuse? Studies have shown how nurturing (environmental influence) affects crime rates. The list here are the most significant factors.
Alcohol and Drugs
Eighty percent of inmates use drugs and/or alcohol both before and during incarceration. Drugs and alcohol impair decision-making and is the root cause for many arrests. This is a serious issue in prisons and makes it more difficult for inmates to stop using when they get out.
Not having money can make certain people turn to theft or dealing drugs in order to survive. Unfortunately, this is a vicious circle. After they get arrested and go to prison, they have a criminal record, which makes it difficult for them to find a reliable job once they are released, which forces them into criminal pursuits yet again.
Bad or Absent Parenting
Kids that have little to no role models or family will try to find an accepting group elsewhere; this is why so many kids get into gangs. Gangs then promote violence, theft, and drugs.
There are many mental illnesses that can lead to criminal activity, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and a number of various personality disorders. Unfortunately, if an inmate is only being punished for their crime, they aren't getting any help for the underlying mental illness that may have caused their incarceration in the first place.
The lack of education has two influences. First, limited education can cause poverty, because better paying jobs require advanced degrees. Second, a lack of education also directly contributes to committing crimes.
These environmental influences obviously influence whether a person commits a crime. So what options are available for rehabilitation in order to prevent repeat offenses and how effective are they?
Criminal rehabilitation is essentially the process of helping inmates grow and change, allowing them to separate themselves from the environmental factors that made them commit a crime in the first place. The idea is to treat each of the major contributing factors in order to help give an inmate the ability to live a crime-free life after they are released from prison.
One of the biggest challenges for inmates is being institutionalized, living in prison so long that they no longer know how to function in the outside world. This makes some of them commit crimes so they can go back to prison where they know how to survive. So what rehabilitation programs have been created to help inmates readjust to society and remove themselves from all of the environmental risk factors?
Many prisons have incorporated educational opportunities within the prison so inmates can get their high school diplomas, GED's, and even college degrees. This helps inmates to make informed decisions and helps keep them from making wrong decisions later in life. Additionally, it helps inmates find jobs and careers when they are released, allowing them to gain money without resorting to criminal activities.
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation offers a pathway for steering people away from a life of crime. If inmates no long feel the pull of drugs and alcohol, then they are less likely to use them when released, which then keeps them from impaired decision-making.
There are many programs that allow inmates to help younger kids avoid getting in trouble. These classes educate youths about the prison system, giving them a taste of a day in the life behind bars, in the hopes that they will realize crime does not pay. This type of rehabilitation may sound like it is only for the kids, but it's also a reminder to inmates of their own choices, and how they need to set better examples.
Although this is a problematic element of the prison system, medical care is available. If an inmate has a mental illness, this medical attention allows them access to therapy and medication, helping them to set up a treatment plan for when they are released.
Many prisons allow inmates to gain work experience in a variety of different professions while in prison. This opportunity offers skills and training, which they can put on a resume. More importantly, however, it makes them feel productive and talented, which helps support positive behaviors when they are no longer in prison.
Almost all prisons have a faith-based organization that inmates can join. Having faith allows inmates the opportunity to dedicate their lives to something, and offers incentives and support for not committing crime in the future.
This program brings stray dogs and cats into prisons. This program addresses two social issues at once: caring for the large number of abandoned animals and helping prisoners rehabilitate. This program gives inmates something to look forward to and the responsibility of caring for the animals, which appears to help prevent crimes both within prison and when they are released.
Rehabilitation is built on the idea that people aren't natural criminals and that, instead, environmental factors predispose them towards committing crimes. Criminal rehabilitation is essentially the process of helping inmates grow and change, allowing them to separate themselves from the environmental factors that made them commit a crime in the first place. So if inmates learn a different way of living their lives, they'll be less inclined to commit crimes in the future.
There are dozens of different programs that help with rehabilitation for prisoners. All of them address different factors that are known to contribute to crime, which are drugs and alcohol, mental illness, poverty, education, and bad or absent parenting. Each factor has a different solution, which is why there are so many programs that help every unique person find a way to live outside of prison successfully.
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