Goals of Corrections Term Paper

Pages: 9 (2380 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 11  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … Goals of Corrections

The objective of this work is to research the five goals of corrections which are those of: (1) retribution; (2) deterrence; (3) rehabilitation; (4) incapacitation; and (5) restoration. The history, philosophy, development and empirical validity of each will be discussed as well as the status of each in terms of the present. This work will conclude with a statement of recommendation as to the preferred corrections theory stating why that is the theory thought superior to the other corrections theories. Finally stated will be that which should serve to guide corrections in the future.

Retribution is just another word for punishment or sometimes said as 'getting what someone deserves' or 'just desserts' which all speaks of the belief that the individual committing the offense should received the appropriate punishment that is deserved to them for the offense committed. Deterrence is the idea that it is the 'fear' of the punishment will serve to stop or refrain individuals from committing the crime. Deterrence is often gender-specific of offense-specific. Incapacitation or the taking of the offender into physical custody to stop the offender from committing future crimes is another theory of corrections. Rehabilitation has as its' basis the idea that society should reform offenders so they will refrain from commission of crimes and become useful and productive members of society. Incapacitation is based on the idea that the individual who is incarcerated can hardly commit a crime in society. Finally, Restoration is the utilization of the processes of the criminal justice system in rebuilding relationships among the victim, community and offender and reparation of the harm of the offense. Restoration is based on the accountability and self-responsibility of the offender. Rusche and Kirchheimer relate that one cannot understand punishment from its ends only because punishment never really exists, but instead "concrete systems of punishment and specific criminal practices exist." (Santos, nd) Michel Foucault relates in 'Discipline and Punish' that modern corrections can be both useful and functional and is contended to be completely unconnected to crime reduction and recidivism but instead is system of "power and regulation." (Santos, nd)


One example of retribution is the juvenile intensive probation supervision program (JIPS) emergent in the 1980s as an alternative to incarceration under the 'get tough' movement instead of the 'get treatment' approach. This 'get tough' approach in the community was influenced in part by overcrowding in the prisons and jails and as stated in Burkhart (1987 p. 75) individuals in the U.S. were faced with a "social dilemma caused by the desire to obtain maximum offender control through imprisonment and a reluctance to support the high public costs associated with prison construction and the maintenance of a large inmate population." (Byrne, 1990) Punishment consists of 'home arrest and frequent control mechanisms of surveillance and frequent face-to-fact contacts. According to Lurigio & Petersilia (1992, p.9) and related in Petersen (1996):"The increased monitoring and surveillance in intensive probation supervision programs are designed to boost offenders' perceptions of the effectiveness of the system in detecting and punishing their criminal behavior." (Petersen, 1996) Therefore, according to Petersen it may be for mere purposes of punishment that the intensive probation program was designed "in the guise of some limited treatment services." (Ibid) Petersen concludes by noting that "unsettling tension exists amongst the experts between the two polarized elements of the purpose and practice of JIPS; that is, treatment and rehabilitation v. control and punishment. Harland & Rosen (1987) define this dilemma as the "control vs. cure" debate." (Petersen, 1996)


Deterrence may be through many various methods and historically certainly was varied in local laws and customs concerning punishment for crimes committed. Deterrence is based on early theory of criminology that posits that "sufficiently repugnant punishments will inhibit individuals from committing crime." (MacKenzie, nd)


The theory of rehabilitation belonged to Zebulan R. Brockway at the First Conference of the American Prison association. Law-abiding behavior was the result of industry and education was centric to this theory. Poor educational achievement was seen to be a risk factor associated with delinquent behavior. Studies conducted in the past have shown that "school attachment, educational achievement and educational aspirations" are factors that are."..inversely associated with delinquent behavior." (MacKenzie and Hickman, 1998) Some rehabilitation approaches are more effective than are others and from the psychological researcher's viewpoint the treatment programs found to be effective are those that follow several basic principles (Gendreau and Ross, 1979, 1987; Gendreau and Cullen, 1989) the basic principles of rehabilitation include the following:

Principle One: Treatment must directly address characteristics that can be changed (dynamic) and that are directly associated with an individual's criminal behavior factors;

Principle Two: There are numerous risk factors associated with criminal activity. Age, gender and early criminal involvement are some examples. In comparison to others, young males who began criminal activities at a young age are higher risks for future criminal activities.

Principle Three: These "static" characteristics such as age, gender and past history, while predictive of recidivism, cannot be changed in treatment. Instead, the "dynamic" or changeable factors should be the target of treatment programs." (MacKenzie, nd)

Critics of 'rehabilitation' including Gendreau (1981); Gendreau and Ross (1979, 1981, 1987); Gottfredson (1979); Cullen and Gilbert (1982); Greenwood and Zimring (1985) argued that treatment programs could not reduce recidivism even potentially because it was not possible to draw conclusion from the research due to the fact that the method of research was inadequate and the programs were studied in such a poor implementation and that delivery of the study was "in such a weakened form that they would not reasonably be expected to have an impact." (MacKenzie, nd)


Incapacitation may mean imprisonment through various levels and methods. This is a simple concept in that those incarcerated are clearly unable to commit crimes outside of prison thereby preventing them from committing crimes against those in the community. In the decade of the 1970s incapacitation rates grew however correlational studies making examination of the association between arrest and incarceration rates have not found a consistent relationship between these two factors. (Zimring and Hawkins, 1995) Making the effectiveness of this strategy of corrections questionable are the following facts:

1) it is impossible to predict the high frequency future offenders so increased sentencing targeting is not possible;

2) Financial costs must be considered in the incapacitation crime prevention strategy;

3) Limited returns have been noted for large increases in incapacitation because the would-be offender is now a dependent upon the system; and 4) Actual estimates of crimes prevented are difficult to determine due to the requirement of estimation of criminal participation and duration of careers.


Restoration or 'restorative justice' is a method being used more often in corrections and these programs are of the nature that they take place on the outside of prison walls enabling the offenders to pay their debts to society without being incarcerated in prison. Restorative justice is a community-based program and focuses toward reduction of overcrowding in prisons. Four efforts that have been made include: (1) groups of prisoners wish to make amends and meet with the victims; (2) leaders in corrections become champions of restorative justice through various successful methods; (3) prison rehabilitation, which enables the prisoner's responsibilities to those they have harmed; (4) Victims of serious crimes meet with offender. Some of these programs focus on development of empathy for victims by the individual committing the offense. The six objectives of 'restorative' justice include those as follows:

Objective One: Development by offender of empathetic awareness of victim;

Objective Two: Enable offender to make amends to victims;

Objective Three: Facilitation of medication between offenders and families, victims, and communities;

Objective Four: Strengthen ties between prisons and communities to which they are located near;

Objective Five: Create a prison culture characterized by peaceful resolution of conflict; and Objective Six: Create an environment in which the offenders entire self may be transformed. (Van Ness; 1997; paraphrased)

Strong emphasis is given to the offender accepting responsibility for self with the offender staying in a closed unit and then to a community unit finally moving outside the prison but reporting back weekly. The time in the closed unit is stated to be spent: "...helping the prisoner understand his or her unique gifts and the remarkable person he or she really is while at the same time addressing medical, social and psychological needs. Few numbers of prisoners are admitted into this program. Family is an important part of this program with special seminars being held and opportunities to visit in an environment of highly respectful interaction.


Clearly research demonstrates both positive and negative results from use of the strategies of retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation; restoration and certainly what is the best correctional strategy for one type of individual might not be the best whatsoever for use with another individual. The individual who is truly criminally insane will not respond to any of the attempts in correction strategies except that of incapacitation in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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