Research paper on assessing correctional rehabilitation


Rehabilitation refers to a series of activities and systematic efforts to restore a person into a useful state. Apparently, rehabilitation has the purpose of making a person that has deviated from the expectations of society become productive and acceptable in the community. Looking at the concept from the narrower definition of correctional rehabilitation, some aspects are added to the definition. Whether or not such efforts are effectual has been a topic of deliberation in the circles of criminology and correctional studies. The fact that rehabilitation has taken center stage in American corrections is the reason as to why rehabilitation has become such a weighty topic of concern lately. This paper reviews such researches carried out on this contagious topic. The paper focuses on the inadequacies of correctional rehabilitation, giving key attention to the evidences of such inefficiencies. The paper as well gives suggestions as to what should be done to revamp the situation by mitigating the causes of the inherent weaknesses. The implementation of such suggestions is discussed, followed by a description of how such suggestions will enhance the effectiveness of correctional rehabilitation.

Assessing Correctional rehabilitation

Correctional rehabilitation refers to the efforts by the relevant authorities to provide strict penal custody, through what criminologists refer to as parole or probation for law breakers and delinquents, with the aim of helping such individuals becomes helpful members of the society. The main avenue, through which such can be achieved, is through having the criminals abandon their socially unacceptable tendencies and embrace acceptable ways and activities that are aimed at the best interest of the community (Clear et al 2013). The concept of rehabilitation has its roots in the principles of correction. The concept of correctional rehabilitation is based on the presumption that criminality is something that can be learned and unlearned. In other words, criminality is not permanent. This paper endeavors to explain the ineffectiveness in the concept of correctional rehabilitation, the evidence of such ineffectiveness, suggestions for improvement of the status quo as well as the explanation of how such suggestions will likely change the situation.

An overview of Correctional rehabilitation

Worth noting is the fact that, unlike punishment, rehabilitation, which is a civilized concept does not focus on deterrence, but rather on preventing recidivism. Recidivism has been described variously by criminologists as the tendency of offending habitually. Punishment, which is an old method of handling criminals, is not as acceptable in modern society as is rehabilitation. Worth noting is the fact that punishment is meant to inflict pain and discomfort on the offenders, in such a way that he or she will hesitate to engage in criminal activities after the end of their sentence (Williams, 2009). On the contrary, correctional rehabilitation is a therapy-based approach. The therapeutic activities involved in correctional rehabilitation are aimed at rebuilding the offender, especially mentally. The concept of correctional rehabilitation has its roots in the 1980s and focuses more on the individual offender than the community. In simple terms, the therapy of rehabilitation focuses on converting an individual into being useful. The skills taught tot eh people will be efficient or inefficient depending on the mentality and psychological background of an individual. The key presumption behind the rehabilitation models is the point that criminality is a normal social phenomenon that creeps into the behaviors of some individuals. As such, the behavior can be unlearned.

Problems that make correctional rehabilitation less effective

One of the factors that have made correctional rehabilitation ineffective is the fact that the process is quite costly and involving. Notably, the process deals with an individual and not a group. Creating such attention for the needs and requirements of all convicts is quite an involving task. Acquisition of the resources required to have one person change from being a convict to a useful member of society is quite an uphill task, considering that the government and the correction authorities usually aim at having all convicts become useful in society (Mays & Winfree, 2009). Considering that the money used on the convicts is part of the taxpayer funds, the process lacks moral backing to a considerable degree. The second factor that can be used to put in plain words the reason as to why rehabilitation can be ineffective is the point that such a process is subjective. There has not been a scientific study to establish how different people react to a certain method of rehabilitation. Depending on the nature of an individual, the process may be successful. The reason why scholars term the process as being extremely subjective is because the effectiveness depends on the innate and usually unseen characteristics of the individual. Such characteristics can be hidden for the benefits and fast release of the person under review.
Most scholars that have a wealth of information in the fields of criminology and correction agree in near unanimity that the most difficult problem challenging the effectiveness of correctional rehabilitation is the problem of handling and dealing with psychopaths. A psychopath is an individual that suffers a psychological disorder that makes them unresponsive to such things as pain, suffering, torture or even shame (Williams, 2009). Apparently, a psychopath does not care a bit about what effect his deeds will have on the rest of society. Psychologists and other social scientists explain that psychopaths are capable of concealing their behaviors and intention for quite a long time. In straightforward terms, a psychopath can hide his real behavior for the whole probation period. This way, the correctional authorities, consider the convict a reformed person. Various researches have indicated that a psychopath is 2. 5 times more likely to be released earlier than a normal person.
Research, as well indicates that a psychopath does not respond to punishment. Typically, punishment works on people whose psychological setup gets troubled by discomfort. Considering that discomfort does not impact on a psychopath, it is worth concluding that the psychopath cannot be deterred by punishment society (Mays & Winfree, 2009). Related to this point is the fact that the effectiveness of rehabilitation relies on the psychological background of the individual. By psychological background, social scientists refer to the mental history of the convict. Additionally, psychological background could be the intellect of the individual. Worth noting is the fact that an ignorant person and an intellectual convict will perceive breach of the law differently. It is for this reason that the intellectual individuals usually evade arrest, and in the event that they get arrested, they will not be rearrested any time soon since the rehabilitation programs reform them.
Arguably, among the most difficult problems that are likely to make the process of rehabilitation ineffective is the issue of relating behavior to the socialization and re-socialization process. Socialization is the process through which an individual interacts with the rest of society in which they grow. This is a long term process which begins as soon as an individual can identify with a certain group in society. Socialization is brought to an end by any instance that detaches the individual from society. Detachment in this case refers to such processes as arrest and imprisonment. When an individual is arrested, he is said have lost contact with the people. Re-socialization is a considerably difficult process. Re-socialization entails accepting an individual back into society. This becomes extremely difficult especially considering that society has negative attitudes towards convicts and ex-convicts (Williams, 2009). This way, the individual that is supposedly rehabilitated feels socially unaccepted, a condition that may compel them into committing crimes again.

Evidence of the ineffectiveness of correctional rehabilitation

The mere action of an ex-convict engaging in such antisocial behavior as drug use is enough evidence that the process is quite ineffective. Whether or not the individual was originally arrested for drug use, is irrelevant in proving the ineffectiveness of such correctional rehabilitation. Extensive studies across the United States and Canada in the year 2009 revealed that 90 percent of the gang members in the streets were ex-convicts (Gideon & Sung, 2011). The gang members, who are a definite threat to security, had different reasons for joining the outlawed factions after release from prison. As much as the reasons were different, they all pointed to the fact that rehabilitation did not provide mechanisms to make the re-socialization process easy. This, according to Ross Kemp, a researcher in the field of corrections is a serious indication of recidivism. The fact that most gang members that were ex-convicts were addicted to using of such hard drugs as methamphetamine, is as well, an indication that rehabilitation in the correctional facility is not effective.
According to studies across the United States, recidivism stands at 63%. This is considerably high, considering that rehabilitation’s aim is to make people quit criminal activities and engage in socially and economically constructive activities. Recidivism, a condition of habitual offending has been described as being a result of the inability of rehabilitation to deter the convicts, as well as the general public from indulging in criminal activities (Clear et al 2013). Social scientists estimate that seven out of ten people in a rehabilitation program are likely to re-indulge in criminal activities. On the contrary, social scientist and researchers in criminology and corrections estimate that, in the punishment model, only two out of ten people were likely to indulge in criminal activities after serving a jail term. This is another piece of evidence that rehabilitation is comparatively less effective.
Apparently, the security situation does not seem to improve in the streets and neighborhoods of most American states. This is adequate evidence that American corrections, which have heavily embraced the idea of correctional rehabilitation, have not managed to reduce insecurity. As much as they may reduce recidivism to some extent, the rehabilitative models do not deter the general public from engaging in criminal activity (Gideon & Sung, 2011). Had the rehabilitative models been effective, argue social scientists, the security situation could have improved in all the states that have extensively employed rehabilitation in their correctional facilities. Currently, the crime rates are high and are continuously rising, especially in the downtown areas, which are characterized by the use of drugs.
Another piece of evidence that rehabilitation is not effective is the fact that, according to a 2007research, 70% of the inmates in chief correctional facilities had a criminal record, and had been through rehabilitation therapy a couple of times before (Williams, 2009). In straightforward language, the criminals that had been caught by the criminal justice system were not responsive to the efforts of this system to have them reformed. Detachment from the rest of the community was a serious show of inefficiency in the rehabilitation system. Apparently, according to the doctrines of rehabilitation, a convict, upon release, should easily integrate into society. Conversely, studies show that people that have been to prison and through the rehabilitation programs do not reintegrate well into society. Instead, they become detached to the extent that they may end up re-indulging in criminality or even committing suicide as a result of feeling rejected.

Suggested improvement and how to implement

Various suggestions have been made regarding the efforts to enhance the effectiveness of correctional rehabilitation. The most prominent suggestion is to give rehabilitation a multidisciplinary approach. What this means is that, in handling the convicts, the correctional authorities should use many professionals instead of having one individual instruct the convict. This may make it possible for the convict to change almost permanently. Engaging such disciplines as psychological counseling, drug therapists, and religious teachers can be a radiant idea as only such people can effectively identify psychopaths and know how to handle them. The use of religious intervention has been experimented and found to be considerably effectual in most jurisdictions. In implementing this idea, the government should redesign the staffing process in such a way that the religious teachers, psychologists and drug therapists are among the staff of the correctional facilities playing a dynamic role in the renovation of the convicts (Clear et al 2013). Multidisciplinary approaches have been found to be particularly effective in juvenile institutions as they constitute early intervention.
Another primary suggestion is to make the sentence difficult for those people that had a criminal record. In other words, anybody that gets arrested and is found to be in the records as a previously arrested offender should be subjected to serious castigatory processes. This way, those in rehabilitation programs will not be ready to re-indulge in crime. Criminals that display any degree of recidivism should be treated differently from the fresh convicts as a way of breaking the habit of criminality (Cullen, 2010). Since rehabilitation is a soft option, they should be subjected to corporal punishments and jailed for longer. Implementing such a thing is not difficult at all as it only requires the updating of the criminal justice system, especially the courts to review sentencing. Another suggestion entails involving the public so that re-socialization may become easy. Implementing this may make the offenders deal with total detachment during release.

Description of how it will enhance the effectiveness of correctional rehabilitation

Apparently, the employment of a multidisciplinary approach will make it possible for the correctional authorities to identify psychopaths. The psychopaths will then be handled differently to ensure responsiveness. As such, the punishment resistant psychopaths, who are likely to display recidivism, will be as responsive to the process, just like normal people. Making the sentence difficult for those with a previous criminal record will enhance deterrence. Deterrence will be achieved among the inmates, as well as among the general public, which contains potential criminals and delinquents. Involving multiple disciplines, as well as the public, can assist the inmates get re-absorbed back into society. This way, they may learn to engage in productive activities instead of criminal conduct. Additionally, the use of multidisciplinary approaches including religion will make the change in behavior permanent as they engage psychological processes.


In conclusion, it is pretty comprehensible that, from the foregoing, correctional rehabilitation is, to a significant extent ineffective. The major reasons behind the ineffectiveness include such factors as the failure of rehabilitation to identify a way of handling psychopaths. Other reasons as to why correctional rehabilitation has proven to be ineffective are because the process is quite expensive and involving. The amounts of money, time and resources needed to handle the convicts are quite discouraging, considering that the rehabilitation process may, in some cases fail to work as desired. The subjective nature of rehabilitation can as well explain why the process cannot be effective. Considering that the process focuses on an individual and not a group, it is only reasonable to conclude that, whether or not the system will work highly depends on the psychological background of the individual. The ineffectiveness of correctional rehabilitation is evidenced by such things as high probabilities of recidivism. The fact that a big percentage of inmates have criminal records is a clear indication that recidivism is high. Among the principal recommendations are such things as multidisciplinary intervention, toughening the sentence for those people that display characteristics of recidivism and engaging religion. Apparently, such recommendations, if implemented, will help enhance deterrence, identify psychopaths and enhance re-socialization.


Clear, T. R., Cole, G. F., & Reisig, M. D. (2013). American Corrections (10th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Cullen, F. (2010). Correctional theory: Contexts and consequences. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Gideon, L., & Sung, H.-E. (2011). Rethinking Corrections: Rehabilitation, Reentry, and Reintegration. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Mays, G. L., & Winfree, L. T. (2009). Essentials of Corrections. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Williams, R. (2009). Rehabilitate or Punish: How Should Society Treat Criminals? Helium: Police and Prisons.