Should prisons rehabilitate or punish?

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Introduction

Should prisons rehabilitate or punish? In this essay I will focus on whether law offenders sent to prison should be rehabilitated, punished or both. In my opinion I have a fairly bias view towards punishing the criminal as I feel that people do not have to be deviant yet some chose to be; however I will discuss both usefulness of rehabilitation and the disadvantages of this. With doing research for this essay I noticed that the majority of crimes were committed by the poorest of society (tend to be more of the unemployed council house families) and such crimes committed by this part of society is frowned upon; yet a crime committed by someone higher in the social hierarchy is most uncommon (yet it does happen perhaps its not publicised as much due to the whole Marxist theory of the bourgeoisies exploiting the people below). The work of Clarke and Mayhew can help support this idea because they believed that delinquency are results of choice. With this in mind this theory from Clarke and Mayhew is an excellent perception of how crime is committed and is one reason as to why I think prisons should be to punish as offenders should not be allowed a second chance.

Middle

A problem trying to rehabilitate a criminal and perhaps one of the reasons why he/she has been placed in jail in the first place could be down to thanatation. Thanatation means that the individual has problems with their existence and other people cannot tell the individual something if the person does not want to know. Furthermore, if prisoners feel this way this could lead to suicide and you cannot help or change someone if they don't want to change. A functionalist may see prison as a place to rehabilitate others so that they can be placed back into the working hierarchy when they have finished their time in prison. They could also view prison as a way of dealing with criminals which helps society as once a person is arrested and sentenced to jail; they are no longer a threat to the outside world for the time being (but could be dangerous inside prison). This again could lead to a subculture in prison that could lead to stronger criminals or criminals with a great deal of experience in prisons having the authority over new inmates resulting in a Marxist style of society in prison in which the experienced prisoners exploit the weaker prisoners.

Conclusion

This could also be used to support the fact that prisoners should be rehabilitated as once they have finished their spell in jail; if no-one will employ them due to previous convictions, then they may feel it's necessary to commit more crimes in order to have money to support them. Again financing rehabilitation will have to be taken from some methods which will most likely result in taxes unless its funded through an organisation or voluntary work through interactionalism counsellors, who may decide to aid prisoners as they feel they would like to play some part in helping prisoners conform. If we our living in a post modern world then the theory "anything goes" would justify that there may be fewer criminals in prison because justice may not always prevail. Furthermore the best option available I feel would be to find a suitable balance between rehabilitating and punishing, as this would offer an incentive not to commit crimes if the punishment was severe resulting in the prisoner never wanting to be a non-conformist; and rehabilitating them allows them to "better" themselves by educating themselves and learning about responsibility.

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