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NCJ Number: 83045 Find in a Library
Title: Seven Arguments Against Rehabilitation - An Assessment of Their Validity
Journal: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology  Volume:15  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1982)  Pages:56-60
Author(s): D Weatherburn
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: Seven arguments against rehabilitation as a philosophy of corrections are presented and countered.
Abstract: One argument against rehabilitation is that it has no basis in empirical knowledge of the causes of crime, about which little is known. This criticism is invalid, because it is not necessary to know the causes of a particular event to influence the likelihood of its repetition. A second argument against rehabilitation is that rehabilitation techniques have not proven that they can reduce recidivism. While this is true, it does not warrant abandoning attempts to find approaches successful with particular types of offenders. A third argument is that a focus on rehabilitation produces sentencing disparity as sentencing becomes geared to the varying lengths of time considered required for rehabilitation. A fourth argument is that under the rehabilitation ideology, offenders are assumed to be mentally ill, when in fact the majority are normal. This argument is based on a flawed perception that mental illness is the target of rehabilitation; changes from criminal to normative behavior are rather the ends sought. A fifth argument is that the rehabilitative philosophy is inconsistent with the fair and consistent dispensation of justice. This is unlikely, since rehabilitation ideology appreciates that long periods of institutionalization are not conducive to reducing recidivism. A sixth argument, following up on the previous argument, is that rehabilitation seeks to keep offenders institutionalized until they are deemed rehabilitated, which produces sentencing by need rather than offense. This argument can be countered by providing restrictions on the rehabilitative philosophy rather than by rejecting it entirely. A final argument is that the rehabilitative ideology inevitably depreciates tailoring sentences to the seriousness of the offense. Since more severe sentences have not shown their effectiveness in reducing recidivism, their value, even in the name of justice must be questioned. Preventing further criminal behavior should have a higher priority than exacting retribution. Sixteen notes are listed.
Index Term(s): Criminology; Punishment; Rehabilitation; Theory
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