People who are charged with crimes face an uncertain future, especially when they know that a conviction is likely. One issue that plagues the criminal justice system is that the focus is placed on punishment and not on rehabilitation. It is very easy to tell someone he or she has a problem, but it is much more difficult to find a solution to help the problem. The issue of punishment or rehab is one that is subject of much debate in the criminal justice system.

Why should rehabilitation matter?

If you send a person who has a drug problem to jail, he or she will stop using drugs while there. However, this doesn’t always happen. Many jails and prisons have underground methods to securing drugs. So, you put the inmate in prison and he or she continues to use drugs. This doesn’t do anything to help the underlying problem — the addiction.

Why is this a public problem?

People who have underlying problems when they enter the criminal justice system are more likely to go back out into society and commit crimes again. This could be prevented in many cases by simply offering inmates help while they are incarcerated instead of just sticking them in a cell and thinking they are supposed to come out of a traumatic incarceration without the thought of committing another crime.

It is imperative that lawmakers and citizens think carefully about how people convicted of crimes are treated. Choosing the right option can mean the difference between having a productive member of society on the streets or having an unstable person with a propensity to commit another crime on the street.

Source: Reverb Press, “Do We Want Prisons To Punish, Or To Rehabilitate?,” Matt Terzi, accessed March 16, 2017