Rehabilitation of Felony Offenders Possible? Essay

Pages: 4 (1487 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice


According to Magen and Emerman, "Felonies such as murder, sexual assault, and other physical crimes against a person are not only violations of the law, but are also moral, social, and political violations" (p. 401). Because felonies are such serious offenses against the social order, Magen and Emerman argue that disenfranchisement and the other limitations placed on felons post-release are necessary. In this regard, Magen and Emerman conclude that, "Placing felonies in this larger context suggests that justice, realized through punishment of the offender, is a narrow and partial response to a societal breach, and that a more complete response includes a full range of societal sanctions" (p. 401).

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Given that some felons, past and present, have managed to overcome these obstacles to reintegration into society, secure meaningful employment and become contributing citizens, one of the questions that guided this research, "Is rehabilitation of felons possible?, must be qualified to add ". . . with the resources that are currently available?" Unfortunately, in the wake of drastic budget cutbacks, prison systems across the country have been forced to eliminate many of the training and educational programs that have been shown to facilitate felons' reintegration into society following imprisonment, leaving many of these former offenders with little choice but to resort to making a living the only way they know how through criminal enterprises. For example, Ross clearly states that, "Prisons are meant to rehabilitate criminals. But they rarely succeed at that goal. Meaningful vocational and educational programs are rarely offered. And if they are, prisoners practically have to run an obstacle course in order to get access to or complete the classes" (2006, para. 2).

TOPIC: Essay on Rehabilitation of Felony Offenders Possible? Assignment

Despite these trends, the next question, "Is the rehabilitation of felons desirable" must remain an unqualified "Yes!" For instance, Estaver emphasizes that "one who violates laws in the United States is in need of rehabilitation" (2005, p. 215). History provides some useful guidance concerning desirability of the rehabilitation of felons. For example, Kyle points out that, "Rome did not believe in character redemption or the rehabilitation of felons via imprisonment. Rome got on with procedures, enslaving, sending to the mines, or promptly executing persons who, in later societies, would usually be incarcerated" (1998, p. 218). By the 19th century, though, this view had changed in substantive ways and the rehabilitation of felons became a guiding purpose of prison systems in the West (Caton, 1988). This philosophical perspective remained a fundamental tenet of correction systems throughout the 20th century and resulted in some progressive programs that were shown to reduce recidivism rates. In response to a "get tough on crime" mentality that emerged during the second half of the 20th century, though, the prison programs offered in support of rehabilitation have become increasingly rare.


The research showed that the cards are stacked high and deep against felons who are released from prison. Not only have they completed an especially difficult period in their lives by surviving prison, ex-felons are also faced with an uphill battle in regaining any semblance of a normal life because of the numerous obstacles that are thrown in their way, including securing the basic needs of life. Notwithstanding the arguments concerning the need to provide a broad-based system of sanctions against criminals who commit serious crimes that qualify as felonies, these obstacles simply contribute to a higher recidivism rate that creates a vicious circle for the criminal justice system and the felons who are caught up in it. By providing these offenders with the training and education they need to secure meaningful employment upon their release and eliminating many of the obstacles that are routinely placed in their way, the strain on America's corrections system could be reduced but more importantly, thousands of former offenders could become contributing members of society rather than threats to it.


ACA policies and resolutions. (2005, April). Corrections Today, 67(2), 63-64.

Estaver, A.J. (2005). Dangerous criminals or dangerous courts: Foreign felonies as predicate offenses under Section 922(g)(1) of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 38(1), 215-217.

Felony. (1999). Black's law dictionary. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co.

Halsey, M. (2007). Assembling recidivism: The promise and contingencies of post-release life.

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 97(4), 1209-1211.

Kyle, D.G. (1998). Spectacles of death in ancient Rome. London: Routledge.

Magen, R.H. & Emerman, J. (2000). Should convicted felons be denied admission to a social work education program? Yes. Journal of Social Work Education,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Rehabilitation of Felony Offenders Possible?.  (2010, December 9).  Retrieved September 23, 2021, from

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"Rehabilitation of Felony Offenders Possible?."  9 December 2010.  Web.  23 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Rehabilitation of Felony Offenders Possible?."  December 9, 2010.  Accessed September 23, 2021.