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Getting the Prison Industry to Actually Rehabilitate Offenders

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In my previous post entitled, Recidivism and the Prison Industry (Part 1), I explained that the prison industry does not effectively rehabilitate offenders because doing so is not in their financial interests. The prison industry profits from the expensive wastefulness and ineffectiveness of the prison system. As I said about rehabilitating offenders in the last post, the problem is not that the prison industry does not know how to do it; the problem is that they do not want to do it. In today’s post, I will explain how we can get the prison industry and the politicians to actually rehabilitate offenders.

It all comes down to money. We have to make it profitable for them to actually rehabilitate offenders and lower violent crime rates. And we have to make it unprofitable for them to keep wasting our resources.

To that end, we need to create a system of strict financial accountability.

When a prison releases someone who goes on to commit a new crime, I suggest we hold the prison financially responsible by making them pay for the damages caused by the crime or by making the prison pay a penalty fine of some sort.

I suggest prisons do not receive funding based on how many inmates they have each year because that can leave it profitable for the prison to keep inmates too long. Instead, I suggest prisons receive a certain amount of total funding for each inmate no matter how long they keep the inmate so that it is in the prison’s interest to rehabilitate and release that inmate as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To help ensure that inmates are not released until they have been rehabilitated and are safe to be released, I suggest that professionals must be put in charge of reviewing inmates and approving or rejecting each inmate for release. Then if a released convict commits another crime, a single person can be held accountable for releasing the dangerous, non-rehabilitated inmate. The especially helpful advantage is that we can fire reviewers who have approved the release of a relatively high percentage of inmates who re-offend. So we can find reviewers who are able to predict more accurately whether someone will re-offend and thus drastically lower the recidivism rate.

Finally, we need to ensure that effective incarceration and rehabilitation systems receive a lot of funding if they work correctly. The funding provides the financial incentive for the industry to actually rehabilitate offenders. And the funding also provides the ability to afford to rehabilitate offenders. For more about providing the funds, check out my post entitled Funding Security.

What do you think? How do you suggest we make it in the financial interests of the prison industry to actually do their job, rehabilitate offenders and lower recidivism rates?

By | June 19th, 2008 | SHOW COMMENTS (30)

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30 Responses

  1. Austin Cushing - American Detention Supplies says

    Speaking as one of the people who (however indirectly) profits from the existing prison system, I nevertheless feel compelled to point out that the prison system is at heart a for-profit organization — especially in the case of privatized prisons, but even just in the case of convict labor, where inmates are paid sweatshop wages, and in selling items to prisoners (and family members) at extortionate prices through the commissary system. The commissary items we sell to prisons are sold to prisoners at double the price or worse, in some cases — sure, some of that pays for the fact that it has to be screened through secure channels, but come on.

    Worse, once you’ve been arrested – let alone convicted – good luck finding honest work; and when your choices are between a minimum-wage job cleaning toilets, or a criminal job that pays better than white-collar… not much of a choice, is it? Rehabilitation is one thing, but making sure there’s a good reason not to turn back on bad habits once released is another.

  2. utah security says

    one of the huge problems that contributes to recidivism is the lack of education for inmates while they are incarcerated. The utah state department of corrections started an inmate to inmate tutoring program to increase literacy and basic math skills. It would be interesting to see how many other states have similar education programs.

  3. jackmp32010 says

    Wow, prison as an industry , never thought like this. This article is an eye opener. Guess the whole Judiciary system needs to revisit, otherwise this becomes a vicious circle.

  4. Air_flot says

    Great post! All these safety measures make total sense.

  5. Mika2009Chips says

    We need to keep an eye on prison industrial complex because it is an interweaving of private business and government interests. Its twofold purpose is profit and social control.

  6. Mika2009Chips says

    Well said Mike-HID

  7. Jackwheels says

    I don’t know if I agree with everything in your post, but you have definitely given me something to think about.

  8. Tony-Audio says

    Wow, prison as an industry , never thought like this. This article is an eye opener. Guess the whole Judiciary system needs to revisit, otherwise this becomes a vicious circle.

  9. Mike-HID says

    The problem is that prisons are not actually interested in rehabilitation. It’s just a place for punishing offenders and keeping them away from the public, but the system itself is not built for rehabilitation, and that’s too bad!

  10. Tim says

    Interesting article. I wish you could have included some statistics to back up your arguments. Are there any areas in the U.S. that have implemented similar approaches to that which you suggest? I enjoyed your post.

  11. Richard Belieu says

    Great article! I think one of the main problems with the prison system is that we are classifying all criminals into one system.

    If we were to put criminals in prisons based on the crimes they commit, there may be more rehabilitation than just punishment.

    We put petty thieves that commited one offense because of bout with stupidity in the same prisons with murderers and rapists. These people will never get out of prison and have nothing to lose. All this does for the small time criminals is give them no chance ot rehabilitate. They must survive in a world where survival is not living. Put them in prisons based on the crime and we could potentially be paying less for less prisoners.

  12. Rose from FineCraftGuild dot com says

    Actually, in different countries they do things differently because their basic philosophy around the nature of people differs.

    For example, the prison system in the Netherlands in Europe is quite enlightened… Rehab is high on their agenda!

    Food for thought.

  13. Web Developer says

    True , here in India this happens daily . The criminal never stop doing crimes they are poisoned for 2-10 days and after release the crime is already done. Now-a-Day terrorist are building their chain in the shadow of such prisons.

    Some people are specially terrorists easily be imprisoned and again release from prison . they do this in prison so that they can make their chain.

  14. Egipt says

    Wow, prison as an industry , never thought like this. This article is an eye opener. Guess the whole Judiciary system needs to revisit, otherwise this becomes a vicious circle.

  15. Survival says

    I don’t know if I agree with everything in your post, but you have definitely given me something to think about.

  16. Conservative Books says

    Doesn’t everything come down to money? It is kinda sad isn’t it.

  17. Ralph| SEO Freehold says

    You’re right in the fact that prisons don’t care about rehabilitating criminals, but I disagree on the charging prisons for repeat offenders and a set fee per person (unless the fee was based on how long they were staying for).

    You can’t hold someone accountable for what another person does is my point. There are ex-cons that used drugs before they went to prison and just because of the scare of going back to prison, they never touch them again. Then of course we have the ex-con that does the opposite, they get out of prison and first thing they do is go out to get a fix. Both of them went to the same prison for the same amount of time. Everything depends on the individual and if they want to change. I do believe their should be more intensive rehab program than long prison sentences for drug offenders.

    Some people are happy in prison and when their time is up, they try to get back in; because on the streets they have to work or steal to survive.

    I don’t know the whole system is messed up, the best way to avoid problems is to start at the root of the cause, and that’s childhood, family, and addiction. If you were to resolve problems before they happen and put more money into prevention than the prisons wouldn’t be so overcrowded right now.

  18. bhart says

    Sorry i can’t talk about US Prison system. I think there is no industry prison In Indonesia. They all handled by state.

    If I may speak honestly,
    …prisons in my country are ineffective at all..
    it should be better the convict punished immediately.

    because, little thief such chicken thief because hunger could be beaten till death by public who angered.

    but the big thief who stole Indonesian people’s money still safe and sound, even they may choose VIP room Prison, complete with facilities.

    bhart

  19. Silverado says

    Wow, prison as an industry , never thought like this. This article is an eye opener. Guess the whole Judiciary system needs to revisit, otherwise this becomes a vicious circle.

  20. Bible Teachings says

    It may sound like a good idea on the surface to hold those who govern the prison systems responsible for repeat offenders for lack of rehabilitation.

    However, rehabilitation doesn’t take free will away; nor does it make any promises to prevent crime from happening again. Therefore, such a rule would never become lawful.

  21. Sara says

    The problem is that prisons are not actually interested in rehabilitation. It’s just a place for punishing offenders and keeping them away from the public, but the system itself is not built for rehabilitation, and that’s too bad!

  22. Air Jordans says

    Great post! All these safety measures make total sense.

  23. Cigars says

    Man, this article is dead on. This is the typical way government agencies rule – wasteful and greed.

    I used to work with a certain government funded organization. Every year they would try to find ways to waste money they were given because if they didn’t use it the government wouldn’t give it to them again next year. I didn’t dare ask these people, “You realize that the tax-payers are paying for this right?”. They never thought of it that way – they just saw it as free money.

    It’s bad. We need this stuff fixed. We’re in trouble over this government spending and special interest groups.

  24. Ramunas says

    The criminal mind is very different from ours. I don’t know much about their rehabilitation, but I’d imagine it should have something to do with altering their mind. Sure, the petty criminals will sit in jail for several years, think about what they’ve lost, what will they do until their lives end, probably change. But the real ones, those who feel the need to steal, kill, rape etc. They won’t be changed by the system. Their instincts to commit crimes may be suppressed in jail, but they will grow.

    If we have to make with what we have, I’d suggest to fine prisons. After one or two million in fines lost due to premature release, they will soon rewrite their system, hopefully towards the better.

  25. Bhelle says

    Nice cent here!Oh! I hope the same system follows here in the Phil.Unfortunately, a week after prisoners are release here they’ve commit a crime already.Thus, will end up in jail in two week time.Its a viscious cycle.

  26. Ste says

    I never thought about prisons being an industry, where I live prisons are operated by the states and rehabilitation is done by the corresponding courts.

    If the prisons are commercialized as it is the case in your country (the USA I assume?). A system you propose seems to make sense. If the prisons are not run by the state itself but by an industry. Financial “motivation” is probably the only way to get them to properly rehabilitate the criminals and not just keep them forever.

  27. shepherdfamilyvalues says

    We need to keep an eye on prison industrial complex because it is an interweaving of private business and government interests. Its twofold purpose is profit and social control.

  28. Defend Thyself says

    You bring up a great point about the jail industrial complex; it’s a huge money maker, like the phony war on (insert your enemy here). It’s almost like its a self perpetuating machine and it can’t be changed???

    Here in wonderful Orange County, CA, the OC Jail is a joke, the guards have been found goofing off inmates are found dead; its max security and they treat them like dirt. Down the road in the Santa Ana jail, they are still innocent until convicted, so it’s more laid back and casual & respectful. The Santa Ana Police chief was up for the new Sheriff & they gave it to a women from the LA system, with ties to Homeland Security, so the same system continues, inmates are killed while guards sleep, and we had a chance to change things with the Santa Ana police chief, though, now it won’t.

    Sparky the Stun Gun

  29. Melanies says

    If you rent the movie Sicko, look in the special features and there is a bit on what Michael Moore found about prisons in I like Norway or Sweden. They have the lowest murder rate in the world, you could use this as proof for your bloggers to show that rehabilitation works.

  30. Criminal Defense Lawyer says

    The Prison Industry does not really care about rehabilitation and they never will unless the whole system changes. Make them responsible for recurring offender is a great idea, but they will never accept it for obvious reasons. Besides, real rehabilitation programs require a major effort and don’t think that is a sacrifice they are willing to make.

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