Rehabilitation Or Retribution?

Investigative journalist Raphael Rowe’s new Netflix documentary series “Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons” provides a harrowing look at incarceration in different countries.  Mr. Rowe has gone into the belly of the beast to learn the truth behind the prison systems of the world.  It also prompts a larger, deeper question. What philosophy is better: rehabilitation, or retribution? We look at the arguments for both sides.


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4 thoughts on “Rehabilitation Or Retribution?

  1. I heard your Portuguese accent in there. I know you are a regular chatterbox down there. I love it.

    You know, in the joint there is no weather. Outside, the common talk is about the weather but in there, it doesn’t exist. The common speech is about a better jail. I remember my own times in the city, county, state, federal, and military jail and a common bond was found when sharing where one has been.

    Point being, we are animals of our environment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminded me of something I read about Swedish prisons a few years ago, it sounds like the Norwegian prison is based on the same approach.

    The philosophy behind the Swedish prison was that a lot of the criminals that they get had not been taught to socialise properly earlier in life or behave in a civilized fashion, hence them acting out on impulse or responding violently when angry. So the approach in the prison was to teach them these skills so that when they rejoined society they were fully functioning members who didn’t give in to their baser desires but instead approached problems the same as the rest of us. Hence them doing sports and music practice, they were being taught teamwork and how to cooperate with others and work through problems without attacking each other. That might be why there was a drum set in the Norwegian prison.

    Now I don’t know how well this works, they said the return rate was fairly low but I can’t remember any statistics. But I think at the end of the day how well an approach like this works depends upon the society that does it, and the various ethical and humanitarian ( or lack of) values that the society has.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This discussion brings me back to law school and the withering glare from the Criminal Law professor for my position on the subject.

    The chief purpose of criminal justice is retribution. The desire to avenge wrongs done us is a basic human instinct – that should be recognized. The chief purpose of a criminal justice system is to take the task of avenging wrongs out of the hands of the victim and their friends and family, who, in their anger, might well punish anyone who remotely resembles the offender or apply disproportionate punishments (many would consider things like the groping of an female relative a capital offense, particularly if the relative is underage.

    Rehabilitation is not reliably effective, much like the related and much lauded “addiction treatment”. When confronted with staggering recidivism rates, advocates of rehabilitation invariably complain of a lack of resources – they refuse to even entertain the possibility that there are people who are incapable of respecting the rights of others for any length of time. The solution is always more therapy, more supervision better paid and more professional service providers – ideally, the offender ought to have a highly paid PhD in psychology living with them 24/7/365 to gently guide the offender to more positive outlets for impulses and dispute resolution – things like drum therapy. Good luck with the rehabilitation of MS13, the Bloods and the Crips, the Mafia et al with tom-toms

    Liked by 1 person

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