Thursday, 16 February 2006

While we're talking about rehabilitation for prisoners...

Okay, we weren't exactly talking about rehabilitation for prisoners, not here anyway, and not yet -- but the subject always comes up when prisons, punishment and prison overcrowding are discussed, often in this manner: "Aren't prisons cruel." Why yes, they are -- please refer to our IYCDTT, TDCTC* policy. "But aren't they universities of learning for budding criminals?" Well, yes they are -- what do you suggest: solitary confinement? "No! We should rehabilitate prisoners rather than punish them."

I have three responses to that. 1) Good luck. 2) It's the state's job to protect the rest us from genuine criminals, not to give them therapy (although to be fair, afternoons with a psychologist might be considered a sort of punishment). 3) Good luck getting it to work. In evidence, I refer you to Corrections Department CEO Barry Matthews, who admitted this week that "some flagship rehabilitation programmes are not working."

Mr Matthews was responding to claims by New Zealand First MP Ron Mark that figures show inmates who participate in certain rehab programmes are MORE likely to re-offend.

He concedes that is true, and says there is a slight negative variance which indicates cause for concern.

A "slight negative variance" is bureaucrat-speak for 'we sucked a kumara, and I have no idea why.' (No doubt 'more resources' will cure the problem, or at least mollify the Department -- it's always been the traditional government reward for catastrophic failure). Anyway, so much for rehabilitation -- seems the government does just as well with that as it does with everything else. [Hat tip Lindsay Mitchell]

UPDATE: If you want an alternative view, argued enthusiastically, then Fighting Talk's Lyndon Hood is your man. "In fact," says he, "the biggest problem with the intensive, in-prison rehabilitation programmes is that there aren't enough of them... You can't say rehabilitation is a failed experiment if it hasn't been tried."
* If You Can't Do the Time, then Don't Commit the Crime.

LINKS: Prison rehab programmes failing - Newstalk ZB News

1 comment:

  1. I don't really care if criminals are detered or rehabilitated by prisons - all I ask is that they incapacitate them from inflicting more harm on the law-abiding.


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