Rehabilitating Criminal Justice Policy and Practice

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RehabilitatingCriminal Justice Policy and Practice

The policies adopted by the criminal justice department have failedto achieve desirable outcomes. In fact, the rate of incarcerationcontinues to rise in the U.S (Clear &amp Frost, 2015). The rapidgrowth of the correctional system has placed a severe strain onfederal budgets. The country has the highest percentage of the globalpopulation of prisoners (Sudbury, 2014. Despite the implementation ofadditional punitive measures, criminal recidivism continues toincrease. Overcrowding in prisons causes deterioration in livingconditions. Released inmates also struggle to impact their localcommunities. Some states have higher budgets for corrections thanthose for higher education (Mitchell, Palacios, &amp Leachman,2014). Andrews &amp Bonta (2010) assessed the potential of certainpolicies with regards to crime prevention. The authors discoveredthat crime prevention efforts would often fail if human behavioralpsychology was not considered.

Andrews &amp Bonta (2010) showed the impact human psychology on theeffectiveness of punishment and other social services. Admittedly,the principles of law and justice were appropriately applied indiscouraging criminal behavior. Nevertheless, such efforts would failif psychological principles of human behavior were ignored. Andrews &ampBonta (2010) showed that reductions in criminal recidivism couldoccur if interventions were influenced by personality principles.Consequently, the researchers emphasized the merits of expandingtreatment programs for the sake of inmates. Criminal justice policiesmust also be aligned to psychological principles of human behavior.

The Rise of “Getting Tough” and the Decline of Rehabilitation

“Get Tough” policies emerged in the 1970s since programming hadfailed to hinder reoffending (Matthews &amp Chambliss, 2014).Furthermore, it was believed that sanctioning was done to issueproportionate punishment rather than prevent crime. Severe punishmentof criminals was deemed sufficient to deter violent behavior. Someexamples of “get tough” policies included the replacement ofparole with “truth-in-sentencing” (Spohn, 2014)). Three-strikelaws were also formed to deter repeat offenders. “Scared Straight”programs and boot camps were established in various states (Spohn,2014). Lawmakers pondered whether to increase the punitive nature ofprobation. Notably, truth-in-sentencing guidelines have lengthenedprison terms and led to overcrowding. At-risk juveniles have alsobeen exposed to prison life. In recent years, several states havebeen forced to reduce their expenditure on corrections (Orrick &ampVieraitis, 2015). Moreover, three-strike laws have failed to achievepunishments that fit the crime. Tougher sentencing laws have exposedblacks to longer prison terms than their white counterparts.

Psychological Explanation of why “Get Tough” Failed

Punitive measures can succeed in crime prevention if they are appliedat a reasonable intensity. Short sentences hinder properrehabilitation tolerance while harsh sentences violate fairness andjustice. Besides, punishment must be immediate to limit theopportunities of reinforcing further criminal acts. It is importantto adopt consistency when rendering due punishment (Andrews &ampBonta, 2010). Criminal acts are rewarded whenever offenders arespared of punishment. Criminals should be unable to benefit fromalternative rewards. Opportunities to perpetrate escape behavior mustalso be blocked. Nonetheless, such measures fail to consider theindividual characteristics of each offender. Andrews &amp Bonta(2010) suggested that it was impossible to discourage criminal actsby focusing on punitive measures.

The Resurgence of Offender Rehabilitation

Various developments contributed to the resurgence of rehabilitationas a proper way of causing behavioral change. For example,meta-analytic procedures were created to summarize the results fromseveral studies. In this regard, the research showed thatrehabilitation had a greater impact on recidivism in comparison topunitive measures. Policy-makers and practitioners were also urged toembrace psychological theories that explained criminal behavior(Andrews &amp Bonta, 2010). Researchers found that most aspects ofcriminal conduct were fostered within different social contexts.Hence, policy-makers were encouraged to focus intensive efforts onhigher risk criminals. Conversely, fewer resources should be spent onlow risk offenders. Practitioners were also advised to addresscriminogenic needs during treatment. It was critical to calibrate thetreatment mode and style in harmony with each offender’s abilityand learning style.

The RNR Model and Effective Offender Rehabilitation

The principles of proper treatment were supported by studies of bothjuvenile and adult offenders. Effective treatment mechanisms werealso discovered by focusing on the RNR principles of rehabilitationinitiatives. Sanctions adopted by the criminal justice system havefailed to cause reduced recidivism (Enns, 2014). In addition,treatment programs that ignored RNR principles were associated withreoffending. Andrews &amp Bonta (2010) showed how the RNR modelcould be used in various settings including offender subtypes andcriminal behavior. The latter model could also be applied tominorities, women offenders, and juveniles. The application of RNRprinciples could hinder violent offenses, sexual crimes, and prisonmisconducts. Hence, rehabilitation programs had more successfuloutcomes when compared to medical interventions and criminal justicesanctions.

Future Directions for Policy and Practice

Deterrence has proven to be a failure in terms of reducingrecidivism. In fact, “get tough” policies have increased prisonpopulations. Many facilities embrace rehabilitation since punitivemeasures cannot be sustained. Contrary to punishment, there is solidevidence that supports the effectiveness of rehabilitation. Andrews &ampBonta (2010) proposed several strategies based on RNR principles.Firstly, practitioners should focus their efforts on high-riskoffenders. People with a low probability of reoffending should bespared from electronic monitoring. Secondly, practitioners shouldtarget the relevant factors that contributed to criminal behavior. Itwas important to use powerful methods that could inspire behavioralchange (Andrews &amp Bonta, 2010). Offenders should also be groupedbased on their relative risks of reoffending. Consequently, thecriminal justice department can cause a reduction in recidivism.


Andrews, D. A., &amp Bonta, J. (2010). Rehabilitating criminaljustice policy and practice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law,16(1), 39-55.

Clear, T. R., &amp Frost, N. A. (2015). The punishmentimperative: The rise and failure of mass incarceration in America.New York, NY: New York University Press.

Enns, P. K. (2014). The public`s increasing punitiveness and itsinfluence on mass incarceration in the United States. AmericanJournal of Political Science, 58(4), 857-872.

Matthews, R. A., &amp Chambliss, W. J. (2014). Marxist criminology.In Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (pp.2989-2998). New York, NY: Springer.

Mitchell, M., Palacios, V., &amp Leachman, M. (2014). States arestill funding higher education below pre-recession levels. Centeron Budget and Policy Priorities.

Orrick, E. A., &amp Vieraitis, L. M. (2015). The Cost ofIncarceration in Texas: Estimating the Benefits of Reducing thePrison Population. American Journal of Criminal Justice,40(2), 399-415.

Spohn, C. (2014). Twentieth‐CenturySentencing Reform Movement: Looking Backward, Moving Forward.Criminology &amp Public Policy, 13(4), 535-545.

Sudbury, J. (2014). Global lockdown: Race, gender, and theprison-industrial complex. New York, NY: Routledge.