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Rehabilitation Definition and Origin

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One objective in the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate offenders. In this paper, I will describe what rehabilitation is in prison, as well as provide the origin of rehabilitation. Next I will give a definition of parole and how it is different from mandatory release. I will also be giving a definition of probation and how probation compares to other forms of sentencing. This paper will also provide a definition as well as the options of community corrections. Lastly, I will critique the current rehabilitation and give my opinion on a better solution to the current parole process, the current probation system, and the current community corrections options.

Rehabilitation according to the dictionary, nd, means; “to help (a person who has acquired a disability or addiction or who has just been released from prison) to readapt to society or a new job, as by vocational guidance, retraining, or therapy.” The purpose of rehabilitation in a prison environment is to help an offender admit they have a problem. Once a prisoner admits to having a problem they then can accept the help offered to them, begin to reform from committing more crimes and live normal lives without any criminal activities once they have been released from prison. In the 18th century rehabilitation was introduced to the prison systems, with the passing of the Penitentiary Act. The Penitentiary Act sought the rehabilitation of offenders in all prisons. Although the central form of punishment in the criminal justice system in today’s society is imprisonment, more emphasis is placed on rehabilitating the offender to reduce the rate of recidivism.

Parole v. Mandatory Release
Parole can only be granted to those who have served a minimum amount of time in prison. When a prisoner becomes eligible for parole he or she will go in front of a parole board who will discuss their crime, examine their behavior while incarcerated and review if they had completed any treatment or classes they were ordered to take. The parole board will either grant or deny a prisoners parole. When an offender is released on parole, he or she must comply with all of the conditions that the parole board has set in place. If the parolee does not comply he or she could have their parole revoked and be returned to prison.

There are a few differences between parole and mandatory release. When a prisoner is released on parole they are still under supervision until they reach the amount of time they were ordered to serve. A prisoner who is mandatory released has served their required amount of time. However, a prisoner can be released early due to good behavior and receiving good time credits. When this happens the prisoner will still be under supervision until he or she reaches the amount of time they were sentenced to, however, their supervision is not as strict as those on parole.

Probation Compared to Other Forms of Sentencing
Probation according to the dictionary, nd, “a method of dealing with offenders, especially young persons guilty of minor crimes or first offenses, by allowing them to go at large under supervision of a probation officer.” Probation is usually a jail term that is suspended, and a conditional freedom is granted to the offender. An offender who is on probation must comply with the guidelines that the courts and probation officer has put in place. If the offender violates any of the terms he or she can have their probation revoked and be sent to jail for the time that was suspended.

Probation allows for more freedom when compared to being sentenced to jail or prison. Some feel that probation is still a form of incarceration since the offender still loses some of their liberties. An offender who is on probation is able to keep their ties to the community, able to work and able to get the help they may need when it comes to anger issues, substance abuse issues and any mental disabilities they may suffer from. Even though jails and prisons offer many of the same treatment options, the offender is locked away from society.

Community Corrections
Community corrections are community-based programs or sentencing options usually reserved for non-violent and first time offenders. When it comes to community corrections, a judge has different options to choose from. Some forms of community corrections are house arrest; meaning the offender is to remain in their home with few exceptions such as work, returning to court and religious services. When on house arrest the offender must have the permission of the community corrections staff before leaving the home.

Electronic monitoring is another form of community corrections. When an offender is sentenced to electric monitoring, they are required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet that allows the community corrections staff to monitor their whereabouts. If a person attempts to remove their ankle bracelet, they can be charged with escape. Day reporting is the form of community corrections reserved for those who commit a minor crime or those with no prior criminal record. Day reporting means that the offender must be in contact with the community corrections staff on a daily basis. Contact is usually done in person but sometimes can be done via a phone call.

Current Rehabilitation
In today’s society, rehabilitation seems to be important while the offender is incarcerated, or while on probation or parole. However, the criminal justice system seems to forget that rehabilitation needs to continue once the offender is released. There are different methods of rehabilitation that can help reform an offender while in prison, on probation or on parole. Rehabilitation is very important when it comes to an offender. By rehabilitating an offender the risk of recidivism can be lessened, as well as helping the offender be able to make better life choices which can strengthen family bonds. All forms of rehabilitation require some type of counseling.

Those who suffer from any form of substance abuse can benefit from drug and alcohol treatment. The counseling that comes with drug and alcohol treatment can help an offender deal with life without the need of using drugs and or alcohol as a coping mechanism. When a person learns how to change their thought processes, they can live a much more productive life. Education is another important measure when it comes to rehabilitation. By taking general education classes such as receiving a high school diploma or GED, a person can gain self- esteem. When a person has more self-esteem they are more likely to make better life choices.

Solutions to Current Parole Process
One solution to the current parole process would be to make the process less formal. Sometimes when a person suffers from a panic or anxiety disorder, going in front of a group of people can be intimidating. By having a less informal parole hearing an offender may be less on edge and more relaxed, therefore not feeling threatened. A person who feels more comfortable around a group of people may not feel the need to act tough. I also feel that any treatment that was started in prison should follow the person while they are on parole. By continuing counseling that has already been started the offender has a better chance of not relapsing.

Solutions to Current Probation System
With so many men, women and juveniles on probation today, the current probation system is over populated. A solution would be to add more probation officers. When a probation officer has too many clients he or she cannot do their job properly. By reducing the caseloads of each probation officer they would be able to do their job better. Probation should also be reserved for those who have committed minor offenses and those without an extensive criminal background. Probation should also be used for those who have demonstrated the desire to change their lives for the positive.

Solutions to Current Community Corrections
Community corrections is one solution to the overcrowding of jails and prisons. However, community corrections need more follow through. Offenders who are placed on community corrections should be attending mandatory classes. Classes should also be offered at different times to accommodate those who have steady employment, since employment is necessary when it comes to community corrections. Community corrections should also have a panel of community members to decide if community corrections is the right way to go for an offender.

References
Probation definition, (nd). Retrieved from:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/probation?s=t
Rehabilitation definition, (nd). Retrieved from:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rehabilitation?s=t

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