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Describe the basic tenets of rehabilitation theory in criminal justice.

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kisstopher83 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:16 AM via web

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Describe the basic tenets of rehabilitation theory in criminal justice.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM (Answer #1)

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The original question had to be edited down.  I think that the most basic tenet in the rehabilitation of offenders in criminal justice is the idea that socially and personally destructive habits in individuals can change.  Recidivism, the patterned following of criminal activity, lies at the heart of the rehabilitation theory, believing that it can be reduced with an emphasis towards rehabilitating the perception of the offender.  Part of this lies in the perception that the criminal justice system holds towards offenders.  Studies have indicated that recidivism rates lower when there are viable "opportunities" for offenders to pursue that exist outside of crime.  The theory posits that crime and the return to crime will exist if these alternatives are not made available.  The rehabilitation theory suggests that if we really want to reduce crime, we must offer opportunities and avenues of change for offenders.  Charles Wampler,a prisoner at the Chillicothe Correctional Institute in Ohio, argues as much:

Every criminal that is released from prison will be living in someone’s neighborhood. Ask yourself this: which would you rather have living in your neighborhood: someone who has spent 20 years in prison without seeking any type of self-improvement or someone who has spent 10 years in prison that were geared toward education and counseling? Lengthy prison sentences do have their place in our system, but they are not the ultimate solution, and they should be kept in their place.

Wampler's point is a haunting one.  The desire to rid our world of criminal activity is one that might have pushed individuals to embracing a reality of punitive nature in which criminal activity is the only guarantee.  It is here where the basic tenets of the rehabilitation theory of criminal justice finds its greatest support.

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