Term Paper: Prison Rehabilitation for Men and Women

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Prison Rehabilitation for Men and Women

Despite barbaric origins in the exacting medieval dungeons and torture chambers, prisons have become a vital part of modern life. With a booming population and greater expectations of government to actuate a successful and coherent society, crime and its punishment is of paramount importance. As the French philosopher Michel Foucault asserted, the 18th Century prison system shifted punishment from the discipline of the body to the discipline of the "soul." While the last two decades have seen a rise in incarceration, they have also witnessed a key discussion in the viability of the issues surrounding it.

Four different goals of incarceration and corrections are commonly espoused: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. Each of these goals is the recipient of varied level of public and professional support, but the rehabilitation is both the most common and lofty goal. By defining criminals as those either willingly defiant or incapable of accordance with the social mores of the public, rehabilitation serves the integral purpose of preparing those incongruent with societal expectations to reunite with the greater world and operate effectively therein. If the majority of offenders become reformed individuals less inclined to commit further crimes, the overall governmental objective to protect society is achieved through indirect crime reduction. Yet, while there is general agreement that rehabilitation is a by-product of the prison system, controversy arises in discussing not only its viability and sustainability, but its application between the genders.

Concern over the success of the criminal justice systems has shifted most specifically to the role of rehabilitation in the welfare and future of convicted offenders. Strategies have transformed from a systemic isolation of the prisoner that summarily denies access to the realities of social life to a more conducive process of integration. Critics, however, argue that prisoners are able to become the new "welfare moms," learning sustained, easy reliability on the system meant to make them operable aspects of the public again. Social activists critique the conceptual foundation of rehabilitation that regards the offender as "sick," therefore curable; they warn that prison is not the equivalent of a doctor's prescription for the flu. Ultimately, however, the public, and the government that it elects and respects, is faced with a simple equation: expelling offenders from society as actualized by capital punishment, or treating those who may be helped in order to re-enter society.

According to the Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), there were approximately 1.7 million people in American prisons and jails in 1998, a figure dramatically increased from 744,000 in 1985. By 2002 the statistics again blossomed, this time to 2,015,475 people; of these, 1,264,437 were under State jurisdiction and 737,912 in Local jails, and the rest were under Federal jurisdiction. The Justice Department further suggested that the rates of incarceration defined 411 prisoners incarcerated per 1000,000 residents across the United States, making their treatment of the utmost social concern.

Come 2003, the numbers were still jumping, filling America's correctional system to the absolute maximum. By June 30, 2004, 2,131,180 prisoners were held nationwide, a 2.3% increase from midyear 2003. Nationally, the estimates grew to 486 prison inmates per 100,000 residents. The most recent statistics, however, yield the most surprising facts: the troubling gender dichotomy in incarceration rates. The U.S. Department of Justice reported than in 2004, the number of women under the jurisdiction of State or Federal prison authorities increased 2.9% from midyear 2003, significantly larger than the 2.0% increase in men.

The National Corrections Reporting Program released in 2004 an itemized discussion of the 2001 statistics of the U.S. correctional system by gender. These publications revealed not only that the most violent offenses were committed by men, with extremely larger incidence of murder, non-negliegent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter, kidnapping, rate, and sexual assault. Women were more prone to property offenses and drug abuse.

As the numbers of inmates increase, so do the fiscal expenses associated with their care. According to the Department of Justice, Local governments spend more on criminal justice than do State or Federal governments, a statistic incongruent with the levels of incarceration. Despite the burden placed on local governments, direct expenditures for criminal justice functions have been increasing dramatically. Rehabilitation programs in jails form a decisive part of the $167 billion spent on police protection, judicial and legal activities, and corrections; a $600 per capita expense. Officials estimate that these large numbers boil down to about $300 per day per inmate. Another interesting statistic was also revealed: regardless of offense, women experienced a greater parole and release rate than men.

With prison expenses and population on the rise, the issues surrounding incarceration gain a new relevancy. If the public were to reject the theories behind rehabilitation and instead embrace capital punishment on a more elementary level, these expenses would increase dramatically. While many states refute the legality of the death penalty, those that integrate it into their punishment system experience a great fiscal expense than a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Since 1974, roughly 7,000 death sentences have appreciated, while only 784 inmates had been executed as of June, 2002. The security of the U.S. legal system and the provision of constitutional rights allow for an extraordinary amount of time for those sentenced to death to seek appeal at the expense of the public that, on a purely financial basis, rehabilitation becomes the most viable solution to dealing with public offenders.

Despite gender, rehabilitation requires the recognition and support of basic issues for inmates. Each demand a parity in work and leisure programs, as well as education provision in addition to the increasingly relevant issue of mental health treatment. Inmates of all genders struggle with multiple problems and disorders that demand equally treatment, as well as simultaneous treatment of concurrent disorders and problems as established by "baseline" assessment. Additionally, rehabilitation programs generally consist of several basic programmatic similarities to address the inmates' needs: programs for living skills, substance abuse, literacy and continued learning programs, and abuse and trauma treatment programs.

In addition to these basic problems, the current Bush administration has put a new emphasis on the role of Faith-based prison rehabilitation programs. In 2002, Texas became the first state to embrace the Brazilian-led trend for faith-based rehabilitation, a target program for male audiences far less "rehabilitated" than the female population. The Texas Journal of Corrections revealed that, when tracing two different sets of male inmates following their release from prison, those involved in vocation-based rehabilitation programs witnessed a greater rate of recidivism than those involved in faith-based programs. The rates were astounding: 16% of those involved in the faith-based programs were re-arrested, while 36% of those in vocational programs were. Then Gov. George Bush approved the Prison Fellowship's InnerChange Freedom Initiative in the Texas prison system in 1997 and has since not only supported but approved its use at the national level.

Programs differ from state to state, but those adopted by most states, including North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, and California, call for soon-to-be-released prisoners eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation Offender Programs. These programs are based on a successful inmate vocational evaluation, geared to assess the prevocational and vocational training of the prison before incarceration and his or her role in the existing prison work station. The Departments of Correction frequently combine with community colleges, particularly in North Carolina, to offer on-the-job training to eligible inmates. Additional specialized training, job development, and job placement services accompany involvement in the program, and many systems provide further transportation, clothing, tools, and maintenance for inmates nearing release. "Eligibility" is certified by those who are mentally and physically able to hold employment, and those expected to "benefit in terms of employability from the provision of vocational rehabilitation services."

The sustainability of these programs is at the heart of the criminal justice system. As President Bush stated, "We know from long experience that if [former prisoners] can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison... America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life." As such, the Congress carefully allots for the provision of educational programs to reach the inmates of America's prisons, where illiteracy and sub-par education are rampant. While Blakely v. Washington undercut the very sentencing guidelines at the correctional system's foundation, it also brought rise to the importance of education in prisons. As such, the Literacy, Education, and Rehabilitation Act of 2004 was introduced to the House; LERA calls for a cost-effective means by which to educate the pool of illiterate, incarcerated individuals, whose lack of everyday academic skills significantly hinders their ability to operate in the public environment.

While illiteracy is as common in the male incarcerated population as the female, educational rehabilitations are more frequently targeted to women than men. An integral part of the Living Skills programs for women, cognitive skills training, the national Parenting Skills program, and the Leisure… [END OF PREVIEW]

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