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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Rehabilitation fails for most prisoners

Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Rehabilitation of prisoners is obviously a goal for the law enforcement community. And society has spent countless millions if not billions in a feel-good attempt to rehabilitate those imprisoned for crimes. But is rehabilitation a reality or simply society's lofty goal?

Well some startling statistics were released this week and, to me at least, it blows the rehabilitation crowd out of the water. In a study of over a quarter-million prisoners released from state prisoners, an unbelievable 67 percent were arrested again within three years. That marks an increase from prior studies on the rate of repeat offenders.

Here are some sobering numbers. An amazing 80 percent of car thieves are rearrested within three years of being released from prison. In overall terms, over half of prisoners are back in prison within three years. So make your argument that rehabilitation works but don't make it to me because I don't accept it.

Conservatives view these new numbers as proof that tougher sentencing is needed. Liberal view these new numbers as proof that more rehabilitation is needed. Go figure!

It may not be politically correct but I firmly believe that prison should be a form of punishment. It is not society's role to educate or reeducate those who break society's laws. Prison need not be cruel punishment but rather just punishment for acts that run counter to the rules of civilized society. When you break those rules, you pay the price.

How do we expect rehabilitation to work? When two-thirds of all released prisoners on average are rearrested in three years, then clearly the issue of rehabilitation is not working. So instead of spending good money for bad results let's make prisons punishment-oriented.

Can we not simply accept the fact that some members of society will never conform to the rules by which we all must live? If we can accept that notion then we can offer rehabilitation to those who may benefit but recognize that above all else, prison is a form of punishment. And for some, prison needs to be their permanent address.

If that sounds harsh and cruel just remember that today, two-thirds of our rehabilitated prisoners return to the same path of crime. If this means that rehabilitation is working then I'm confused.

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