The legislators closely evaluate various methods of crime prevention. As a rule, they focus on such approaches as punishment and rehabilitation. This paper is aimed at discussing the advantages and disadvantages of these strategies.
Overall, one can argue that policy-makers should place more emphasis on rehabilitation since it is essential for the improvement of a person’s behavior. Nevertheless, this policy should be applicable to the individuals who are not convicted of felonies such as arson, murder, rape, or other aggravated crimes. This is the main argument that should be discussed more closely.
At first, one should focus on punishment since this method has been the most widespread one in various countries, including the United States. This main advantage of this policy is that a person, who poses a significant threat to the society, can be fully isolated from the community. This argument is particularly relevant about people who committed serious felonies.
Much attention should be paid to people convicted of homicide, rape, or child abuse (Waller, 2008, p. 265). For instance, some perpetrators of child abuse are very likely to commit this crime once again since therapy offered to these people is not very effective (Waller, 2008, p. 265). Under such circumstances, incarceration as a form of punishment seems to be the only option available to policy-makers.
Furthermore, the victims can also demand retribution against people who inflicted suffering on them (Pollock, 2008, p. 60). In this case, punishment is a form of retributive justice. Nevertheless, there are significant weaknesses of this strategy. First of all, an individual, who might have committed some minor crime, can commit a recidivist offense. The incarceration does not produce significant changes in the behavior.
It is more likely that this individual can only become more deviant (Pollock, 2008). Furthermore, by focusing on punishment of offenders, the state can contribute to the increase of prison population (Kahan, 2008, p. 171). In turn, this policy can increase the burden carried by taxpayers. This is one of the main aspects that should be considered.
In turn, it is possible to speak about rehabilitation. This strategy is based on the premise that an offender should have an opportunity to change or correct his/her behavior (Johnson & Dipietro, 2012, p. 813). For instance, a person, who was pronounced guilty of storing drugs, should overcome the addition. Similarly, many crimes can be committed by people struggling with alcoholism.
In turn, the rehabilitation is aimed at eliminating the factors that could have contributed to their crimes (Roesch, 2009, p. 110). The main strength of this policy is that it helps to reduce the rates of recidivism among convicted offenders (Johnson & Dipietro, 2012). Nevertheless, this technique is relevant only in those cases, when a person does not pose a threat to the community.
As it has been said before, the offenders are often required to undergo therapy. However, one cannot always ensure that this therapy prevents them from committing further offences. This argument is relevant if one speaks about perpetrators of child abuse. This is one of the risks that should be considered.
Overall, these examples show that rehabilitation can be a more useful method of crime prevention since it reduces the risk of recidivism. In turn, the emphasis on punishment can lead to the increased governmental expenditures.
Nevertheless, it is vital to remember that in many cases, law-enforcement agencies cannot rely on rehabilitation to make sure that an individual does harm other people. Therefore, the choice between rehabilitation and punishment should be based on the study of a person’s background and the motives underlying his/her crime.
Johnson, B., & Dipietro, S. (2012). The power of diversion intermediate sanctions and sentencing disparity under presumptive guidelines. Criminology, 50(3), 811-850.
Kahan, D. (2008). “Punishment Incommensurability”. In B. Waller (Ed.), You decide!: current debates in criminal justice (pp. 167-175). New York, NY: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Pollock, J. (2012). Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Roesch, R. (2009). Forensic Psychology and Law. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Waller, B. (2008). Should There be Laws Requiring Registration and Community Notification for Convicted Sex Offenders. In B. Waller (Ed.), You decide!: current debates in criminal justice (pp. 253-267). New York, NY: Pearson Prentice Hall.