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Should the Primary Focus of Prisons be Rehabilitation, or Punishment?
The primary focus of prisons should be rehabilitation and reintegration, not punishment.
People who commit crimes are often not entirely to blame for doing so. In recognition of this, prison systems should be structured around supporting inmates so that they do not commit crimes again.
Prioritising rehabilitation is best for the community.
The offender will be less likely to commit further crimes if there is an emphasis on rehabilitation while in prison.
Prisons must prioritise rehabilitation because highly punitive sentences cause harms to the prisoners.
It is morally acceptable for prisons to focus on rehabilitation.
Prisons are an inadequate response to any crime.
Rehabilitation ultimately would drive down the cost of imprisonment to the community.
Punishment is what is 'just' for those who wrong society through criminal conduct.
Focusing only on rehabilitation can lead to excessive and arbitrarily long "treatments."
The question forces a false dilemma - that society must choose punishment OR rehabilitation. A prison sentence should be for both punishment (to deter crime and protect society) and rehabilitation (to attempt to make the offender a productive member of society).
Punishing criminals is a proven effective way to dissuade prisoners from committing future crimes, as well as a deterrent to would-be criminals worried about punishment.
Punishment exists on a spectrum: from criminal fines and suspended sentences in the community, to deprivation of liberty in prisons and then to capital punishment. The penal system should focus on these options to assess what is best for society and the community.
The most essential element of any prison system is that the convicted criminal is removed from society while they serve their time. As a result, it is not possible to construct a system that does not primarily focus on punishment.
As rehabilitation is harder to objectively measure than a reasoned length of punishment, it is necessary to focus primarily on the more concrete concept, i.e. punishment.
Rehabilitation is just a nice word for punishment. Punishment takes the offender as a subject taking responsibility for his actions. Rehabilitation makes him or her an object for correction. Rehabilition sounds more humane but is more invasive.
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