The primary focus of prisons should be rehabilitation and reintegration, not punishment.

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The primary focus of prisons should be rehabilitation and reintegration, not punishment.

Pros
Cons
  • 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.

  • As the prisoner will re-enter the community upon completion of their sentence, it is necessary to focus on the holistic rehabilitation of the individual.

  • Prisons must prioritise rehabilitation because highly punitive sentences cause harms to the prisoners.

  • It is morally acceptable for prisons to focus on rehabilitation.

  • Rehabilitation ultimately would drive down the cost of imprisonment to the community.

  • Punishment is expensed on the individual twice in the current system. Once during their prison time (with the exception of advanced human rights regimes like Scandinavia) and once more once they serve their time. Currently, you are required to list any convictions and time served on job and housing applications in many countries around the world leading to your ability to gain those being severely diminished. Without work or shelter you live a life of misery and are likely to reoffend.

  • The question setting is a little off. To say that rehabilitation is the main goal can be seen too easily as diminishing offenders' accountability. Punishment as a main goal, however, can be counterproductive in the sense that it will not replace anything lost or damage caused from the crime. A solution that focuses more on facing the consequences of actions, making amends and includes an option for rehabilitation would be optimal.

  • 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.

  • There are those who must be kept from society to keep society safe - for them prison is the only solution. For all others, the only time they should be "removed from society" is for rehabilitation and they should be reintegrated as quickly as possible. Monitoring through body devices and assigned parole officers removes total freedom from offenders. When deterrence is needed - community service that benefits society rather than imprisonment which costs society should be employed.

  • Spain did an experiment where they legalized all drugs. This allowed users to turn to medical help without fear of being arrested. Even if this is not an example related to prisons it's an approach that prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment. The experiment was very successfuleuronews.com

  • As rehabilitation is harder to objectively measure than a reasoned length of punishment, it is necessary to focus primarily on the more concrete concept, ie punishment.

  • Rehabilitation would add additional operating costs that detract from the primary goal of a prison: incarceration.

  • Punishment is what is 'just' for those who wrong society through criminal conduct.

  • Punishment should be the primary focus of prisons because criminal acts must have consequences to be effective.

  • A system which does not punish for violation of rights does not promote the value of those rights.

  • 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.

  • Rehabilitation is a worthy goal, but prison is a poor setting for it. It is difficult for offenders to observe and practice positive interaction with society when they are isolated from society in a concentrated population of offenders.

  • Criminal justice systems should prioritize a victim's right to retribution in the form of punishment.

  • If we structure the problem this way, punishment or rehabilitation, we tacitly accept the need for prisons in our society. By creating this Hegelian dialectic the voters are easily divided up by race and class, proliferating false divisions. The prison system can be abolished without crime running rampant through communities. This topic also assumes the guilt of those within the system, that they deserve rehabilitation or 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.

  • Rehabilitation and Reintegration should be among the purposes of prisons, but not the primary focus. The primary focus should depend on the crime and criminal. For minor crimes with a low rate of re-offenders, and/or sincere regrets, rehabilitation can be the primary focus. For serious crimes and career criminals, likely re-offender or those who admit their acts but see nothing wrong with them, removal from society should be the primary focus.

  • Rehabilitation will not necessarily work for everyone and can be problematic in practice.

  • 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.