Rehabilitation of Criminals: A Waste of Time or Worth The Effort?

By: Heather Rose

Since 1960, the number of violent crimes committed per capita in the
United States has increased by more than 450%. More than 24,000 murders took
place in America in 1991.. With each passing year, rapes, robberies, murder, and
other forms of extreme violence has become a way of life for some individuals
who fall short of society's norms; however, it is only a small portion of
criminals who commit the majority of the crimes. It is no longer rare to be a
victim of a violent crime or to know someone who has been affected .

Get tough laws passed by many states have caused a increase in prison
spending. Prison populations in the 1980's have more than doubled resulting in
more prisons being built every year. Even with all the harsh sentencing
guidelines, judges are not sentencing criminals to do necessary time . Prisons
have become a revolving door society. Only 25% of those convicted are sent to
prison. Judges usually have to let out a inmate before another one can take his
place. There are limited cells in prisons, so the majority of crimes are
punished by probation or court sanctions. Even when longer sentences are given,
they are rarely served. The average murderer spends about six years in prison.

What factors decide the outcome of such individuals? Some experts feel
there is no absolute answer, only speculation. There is however, a strong
relationship between environment and the outcome of offenders. Low income, poor
education,drugs, and family breakdown are some factors that keep repeating in
cases of habitual offenders; however, the public sees the problem lies with the
availability of guns and lack of morals. Only one factor stands out in both
public and professional opinion, drugs.

To deal with crime, we must first go to the root of the problem. The
American society is a breeding ground for violent crime. Preventative measures
must be implemented to stop such behavior before it starts. Teaching family
values in after school programs is a step in the right direction. Programs that
teach respect, anger management, and accountability for one's own actions is a
must in today's society.

Prison programs for the first time offender to help them become
productive members of society can be a step in the right direction.Teaching
inmates how to manage anger, drug counseling, people skills, as well as teaching
blue collar trade to inmates will ease the transition from prison to the outside
world. When the inmate is released, a half way house should be the residence of
the former inmate until adjustments are made. This way a person coming into
society will not be overwhelmed by his new found freedom. Giving them back
their freedoms back a little at a time.

Community policing should be promoted in every urban area. Community
policing helps unite citizens together, establish relations between police and
it's citizens, and helps establish pride in neighborhoods. Bonds between
neighbors are strengthened and unity is achieved.

Family restructuring services should be implemented by the state and run
by community leaders. Services for families in need could include, mental health
counseling, living and coping skills, anger management classes, and domestic
violence help. Services should not be limited to those individuals who fall into
certain brackets( financial ), but to anyone in the community who desires help
to lead a productive life.

After school programs to keep juveniles of the streets should reduce
crimes in communities. Children with nothing to do will find ways to entertain
themselves, usually this leads to criminal mischief. After school programs
already in use at public schools have had a sharp decrease in criminal related
mischief. Programs such as sports and homework help has helped in reducing
dropout rates.