skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 75107 Find in a Library
Title: Rehabilitation of Punishment
Journal: Public Interest  Issue:44  Dated:(Summer 1976)  Pages:104-114
Author(s): M F Plattner
Date Published: 1976
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A history of the increasing opposition to the rehabilitative ideal of corrections and to indeterminate sentencing is presented.
Abstract: From 1870 through the 1960's, reformers strove to have this ideal and method of sentencing embodied in public policy, partly in the belief that crime was a form of deviant behavior whose causes lay in individual or social pathology. Criminals were often viewed as victims of social or psychological disorders who needed treatment by behavioral science experts. Since the amount of treatment required depended upon the characteristics of the individual offender, judges were granted wide discretion in deciding the lengths of sentences. The intellectual reaction against such views had its sources in the general social and intellectual ferment of the 1960's and gathered real force in the 1970's. Rising crime rates in the 1960's, as well as opposition to the view that America had a fundamentally just society, allowed the assumptions underlying the rehabilitative theory to be discredited. Instead of assuming that the laws that were broken were just ones, people perceived rehabilitation as a weapon of middle class oppression against poor, miniority captives. Indeterminate sentencing was viewed as unjust because offenders convicted of similar crimes received widely disparate periods of imprisonment. Furthermore, the frequent failure of courts to incarcerate offenders led to fears that even the deterrent capabilities of imprisonment were being reduced. Finally, studies of numerous rehabilitative treatment programs revealed that they were not succeeding in reducing recidivism. References that support the gathering opposition to rehabilitation are reviewed in the text.
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Corrections effectiveness; Indeterminate sentences; Rehabilitation; Sentencing reform
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.