Rehabilitation or Retribution?

Essay by dadushuUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2008

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Rehabilitation or Retribution?

The expectations of society for the criminal justice system are to punish and rehabilitate individuals who have committed crime. Punishment and rehabilitation are two acknowledged objectives of the criminal justice system, Retribution, which is based on "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" philosophy, simply means punishment and vengeance for what evils have done. While rehabilitation, as Nicholas Tan (1999) noted that "is the idea of 'curing' an offender of his or her criminal tendencies, of changing their habits, their outlook and possibly even personality, so as to make them less inclined to commit crimes in the future", the main aim of rehabilitation is to help prisoners to get some skills in prison, so that when they re-enter into society, they can adapt quickly to the new environment. Debates over these two notions have lasted for a long time, many would argue that the main purpose of prison systems is to punish people who have committed criminals.

While this should be the secondary function of prisons, the most important function should be rehabilitating criminals back to the society, not just retribution. As a recent survey showed that over 60 percent respondents agreed that prison should reform prisoners, rather than punish them (Human Rights and Justice Studies, 2000). In this essay, it will argue that rehabilitation is a more efficient way to help prisoners rather than retribution by illustrating advantages of rehabilitation.

Some theorists throughout history have argued that the primary purpose of prisons is to punish criminals for what they have done, criminals should get punished when they break the law. When they are sent into prisons, as punishment, they certainly do not have rights to watch TV, access to internet and so...