Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Rehabilitation (penology)

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Rehabilitation (penology)

Rehabilitation is the re-integration into society of a convicted person and the main objective of modern penal policy, to counter habitual offending, also known as criminal recidivism.


Alternatives to imprisonment also exist, such as community service, probation orders, and others entailing guidance and aftercare towards the defender


A successful rehabilitation of a prisoner is also helped if convicted persons:

  • are not placed in health-threateningly bad conditions, enjoy access to medical care and are protected from other forms of serious ill-treatment,
  • are able to maintain ties to the outside world,
  • learn new skills to assist them with working life on the outside,
  • enjoy clear and detailed statutory regulations clarifying the safeguards applicable and governing the use and disposal of any record of data relating to criminal matters.
  • See also prisoners' rights.


    Norway’s prison system is based on the principle of normalization, in which inmates have access to amenities they would have outside of prison, such as an exclusive mini fridge, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and unlimited access to the 75 acres of land the prison is on. This, along with a shared kitchen and living area “to create a sense of family” among inmates and the absence of traditional prison uniforms contributes to Norway’s rehabilitative normalcy system. The prison’s structure is composed of Units A, B and C with Unit A housing those in need of psychiatric or medical attention, thus being the most prohibitive of the three. Handen Fengsel, referred to as the “world’s most humane maximum-security prison” embodies the country’s goal of reintegration by aiding inmates in sorting out housing and employment before leaving the prison. Rehabilitative measures involve education, job training, workshops to acquire a trade, and therapy along with the humane treatment they receive from personnel who have to complete 3 years of training to become prison guards. The effectiveness of Norway’s methods is evident as they hold the lowest recidivism rate worldwide at less than 30%. “Better out than in” is Norway’s Correctional Service unofficial motto that is in view with their rehabilitative system as a justice to society by integrating inmates as functioning members of society upon release.


    The United States Code states that sentencing judges shall make imprisonment decisions "recognizing that imprisonment is not an appropriate means of promoting correction and rehabilitation".

    In 2015 a number of reformers, including Koch family foundations, the ACLU, the Center for American Progress, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Coalition for Public Safety, and the MacArthur Foundation, announced a bipartisan resolution to reform the criminal justice system in the United States. Their efforts were lauded by President Obama who noted these reforms will improve rehabilitation and workforce opportunities for those who have served their sentences.


    As established by the Council of Europe committee of ministers, «a crime policy aimed at crime prevention and the social reintegration of offenders should be pursued and developed».

    «The European Court of Human Rights, also, has stated in various judgments that, while punishment remains one of the aims of imprisonment, the emphasis in European penal policy is now on the rehabilitative aim of imprisonment, particularly towards the end of a long prison sentence.... A prospect of release is necessary, because human dignity requires that there must be a chance for a prisoner to atone for his offence and move towards rehabilitation. A review system is also needed because, over the course of a very long sentence, the balance between the grounds of detention (punishment, deterrence, public protection and rehabilitation) can shift to the point that detention can no longer be justified.»


    Per the German constitution, «Everyone has the right to life and to inviolability of his person. The freedom of the individual is inviolable. These rights may only be encroached upon pursuant to a law».


    Per the Italian constitution, «Punishment cannot consist in treatment contrary to human dignity and must aim at rehabilitating the condemned».

    Psychopathy and recidivism

    Criminal recidivism is highly correlated with psychopathy. The psychopath is defined by an uninhibited gratification in criminal, sexual, or aggressive impulses and the inability to learn from past mistakes. Individuals with this disorder gain satisfaction through their antisocial behavior and lack remorse for their actions.

    Findings indicate psychopathic prisoners have a 2.5 time higher probability of being released from jail than undiagnosed ones, even though they are more likely to recidivate.

    It has been shown that punishment and behavior modification techniques do not improve the behavior of a psychopath. Psychopathic individuals have been regularly observed to become more cunning and better able to hide their behaviour. It has been suggested by them that traditional therapeutic approaches actually make psychopaths if not worse, then far more adept at manipulating others and concealing their behavior. They are generally considered to be not only incurable but also untreatable.

    Psychopaths also have a markedly distorted sense of the potential consequences of their actions, not only for others, but also for themselves. They do not, for example, deeply recognize the risk of being caught, disbelieved or injured as a result of their behaviour.


    Rehabilitation (penology) Wikipedia