Rehabilitation of the Felony Offender

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In 2009 nearly three quarters of a million offenders were released from prisons and jails in the United States, and it is estimated that roughly half of them will reoffend within three years of being released and will return to prison (Katel 1005). Most of these individuals, who are non-violent, low-level offenders, have little education, job experience, limited social skills and a drug or alcohol dependence (May and Pitts 21). That coupled with the fact they have a criminal record, reduces their chances of finding suitable housing or a decent job. Like it or not this affects all of us in one way or another. As taxpayers, we pay the costs of the justice system, incarceration, and there is the issue of public safety. This problem is not just going to go away, as history shows there has always been crime. “A cursory look at the development of the U.S. prison system commences with a study of early 19th Century Calvinist philosophy. The bleak Calvinist outlook considered humans "inherently evil" and dismissed rehabilitation as a waste of time; retribution reigned supreme” (Whitney 780). The Quakers had a different viewpoint, and established the first prison on record, the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia in 1773. The thought was that education, faith, and solitary confinement would cause remorse and reform the offender (Whitney 780). Back then, the idea was that reforming the offender was more useful than punishment. This did not work too well, and many inmates had mental breakdowns or committed suicide. This continued to be the philosophy, but in the 1800s, inmate labor became popular. Some believed it would bring the prisoners moral redemption, while others just felt punishment was the best option. Towards the end of the 180... ... middle of paper ... ...h 537 (2008): 1. Stop the Drug War. 14 Mar. 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2010. . Thompson, Mindi N., and Devon L. Cummings. "Enhancing the career development of individuals whohave criminal records." Career Development Quarterly 58.3 (2010): 209+. General OneFile. Web. 12 May 2010. Trachtenberg, Ben. "Incarceration policy strikes out: exploding prison population compromises the U.S. justice system." ABA Journal 95.2 (2009): 66. Criminal Justice Collection. Web. 13 May 2010. Whitney, Emily A. "Correctional rehabilitation programs and the adoption of international standards: how the United States can reduce recidivism and promote the national interest." Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems 18.3 (2009): 777+. General OneFile. Web. 12 May 2010.

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