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NCJ Number: 50200 Find in a Library
Title: PSYCHIATRY AND CRIME CONTROL
Journal: DISEASES OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM  Volume:36  Issue:2  Dated:(FEBRUARY 1975)  Pages:55-59
Author(s): R A SCHWARTZ
Corporate Author: Physician Postgraduate Press
United States of America
Date Published: 1975
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: Physician Postgraduate Press
Memphis, TN 38138
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: POSSIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE PSYCHIATRIC PROFESSION TOWARD LOWERING THE RECIDIVISM RATE FOR MURDER, RAPE, AND AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ARE EXPLORED; PSYCHIATRISTS' ATTITUDES TOWARD PRISONS PRESENTED.
Abstract: BECAUSE OF THE HIGH RECIDIVISM RATE, A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM FOR CRIME REDUCTION MUST INCLUDE STEPS AGAINST RECIVIDISM. ALTHOUGH THE POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTION OF PSYCHIATRISTS IN THIS DIRECTION IS GREAT, MOST PSYCHIATRISTS WHO HAVE WRITTEN ON THIS SUBJECT HAVE EMPHASIZED THE INADEQUACIES OF PRISONS AS A PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF RECIDIVISM, ASSERTING THAT THE PREVAILING PUNITIVE AND DEHUMANIZING ATMOSPHERE OF PRISON EMBITTERS INMATES AND REINFORCES CRIMINAL PROPENSITIES. THESE PSYCHIATRISTS ADVOCATE CHANGING THE PUNISHMENT ORIENTED PHILOSOPHY OF PRISON ADMINISTRATION TO ONE EMPHASIZING TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION. ALTHOUGH THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT THAT PRISON LIFE IS UNPLEASANT, IT IS NOT YET AN ESTABLISHED FACT THAT PRISONS DO, IN FACT, PROMOTE RECIDIVISM. APPROXIMATELY 50 PERCENT OF RELEASED OFFENDERS DO NOT ENGAGE IN REPEAT CRIMES. IN ADDITION, PRISONS SERVE A VARIETY OF FUNCTIONS SUCH AS DETERRENCE, REHABILITATION, REINFORCING THE SANCTITY OF THE LAW, AND PROTECTING THE PUBLIC. HUMANIZING ALL PRISON CONDITIONS IS NOT SOCIALLY OR ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE IF ALL PURPOSES ARE TO BE EFFECTIVELY SERVED. THE QUESTION ALSO ARISES AS TO WHETHER CRIMINALS CAN BE TREATED BY PSYCHIATRISTS AS ARE THE MENTALLY ILL. ALTHOUGH PSYCHIATRICALLY-ORIENTED TREATMENT PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN TRIED EXTENSIVELY, THERE IS LITTLE EVIDENCE THAT THEY WORK. TREATMENT ORIENTED PROGRAMS IGNORE THE WELL-KNOWN LIMITATIONS OF PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT IN CORRECTING SERIOUS PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER DEFECTS FOUND IN ANTISOCIAL CRIMINALS, HAVE DIFFICULTY IN OVERCOMING INMATE PEER PRESSURE TO RESIST PRISON AUTHORITIES, AND CANNOT ALTER THE NEGATIVE FACTOR OF POOR EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS FOR THE DISCHARGED FELON. ALTERNATIVES TO PRISON SUCH AS HALFWAY HOUSES ARE NOT ALWAYS AN ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVE, NOR IS THE VIEW THAT CRIME IS SOMETHING INEVITABLE THAT SOCIETY SHOULD LEARN TO LIVE WITH. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT PSYCHIATRISTS REFRAIN FROM WHOLESALE CONDEMNATION OF PRISONS, STOP PROMOTING THE IDEA THAT TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION PROGRAMS OFFER REALISTIC HOPE OF REDUCING RECIDIVISM, AND SUPPORT CHANGING THE LAW TO REQUIRE MANDATORY PRISON SENTENCES TO AGE 40 FOR FIRST OFFENDERS WHO HAVE COMMITTED 'HIGH FEAR' CRIMES, SUCH AS MURDER, RAPE, AND ROBBERY. REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (LWM)
Index Term(s): Correctional institutions (adult); Corrections effectiveness; Inmate attitudes; Psychiatric services; Psychiatry; Psychological theories; Recidivism; Recidivists
Note: PAPER READ AT ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION, DETROIT (MI), MAY 10, 1974
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50200

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