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Old 11-21-2003, 01:56 AM   #1
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Crime, punishment and the intellectually ill.

This is something we probably ponder whenever a case pops up and it seems the offender/defendant is intellectually/emotionally unwell. So where does the line get drawn in the need for more of help rather than punishment, culpability over diminished responsibility? Its such a grey area and one that at times is very hard to prove either way. There's problems within our legal systems and over rehabilitation. Is it even possible? I think there is something 'wrong' with most serious offenders especially in sex crimes and child abuse cases but what is that exactly? Something we should look to help with or accept and punish anyway? So many questions.
What are all your thoughts? This topic can go in a hundred different directions so feel free to focus on any one thing or everything - whichever. I'm curious about what you all might think.
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Old 11-21-2003, 04:31 AM   #2
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I think rehabilitation/treatment needs to be more a of priority than it is. That doesn't at all mean just letting offenders run free. I think pedophilic crimes are horrible, for example, but I don't think just locking the offender up is a solution. It's a mental illness and needs to be treated as such. Until we can look at it and find out what might cause such illnesses and how to treat them, we'll never solve the problem. I do think offenders need to be isolated from the rest of society, at least for a period, but that punishment needs to be coupled with treatment. Simply putting a mentally ill person in prison for 10 years isn't going to cure them, and may even make their illness worse. An increased awareness and understanding of mental illness in society would help too, so people could identify "warning signs" in family members, etc. and help them get the treatment they need instead of just telling them they're disgusting for having certain urges, making them suppress those feelings only to be manifested later. I think in many cases the crime itself is a cry for help that the person was too afraid to seek through conventional means because of social stigmas. If those stigmas are removed/lessened, that help is offered and provided early on, maybe more of these horrendous crimes can be prevented.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed. It's early and I'm in a rush, so I don't know if I'm making any sense.
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Old 11-24-2003, 06:15 PM   #3
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Does anyone have a stat for the success rate of rehabilitation?
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Old 11-25-2003, 12:52 AM   #4
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I have nothing in writing but a psychologist from Long Bay prison in Sydney told me a couple of moths ago that 70% of the inmates are re-offenders. That was only this particular jail, not Sydney, Australia or even the general world population. He himself was not a great believer in rehabilitation.

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Old 11-25-2003, 01:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by meegannie
I think rehabilitation/treatment needs to be more a of priority than it is
I completely agree with this statement. For the most part we are so willing and wanting to send some one to prison instead of helping them with their mental illness. I am not saying that rehabilitation is the right way to go for every case but there are some cases that the defendant would be better off getting help then being sent to prison.
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Old 11-25-2003, 06:48 AM   #6
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When 70% are repeat offenders...assuming the reality of the figure....I wonder wear our priorities our.

I am sorry...but if we are talking about sex crimes....or child rape...and a 70% repeat offense....when do the victims or potential victims rights take priority ofver the person already convicted of a crime?
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Old 11-25-2003, 08:08 AM   #7
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Not sure what you're getting at Dread. I understand what you're saying in that it is a disgusting statistic and victim's rights etc need consideration, but in terms of the prison population, are you for or against increased programs for rehab?
I support them, but in a limited sense. First knowledge needs to be gained on who can indeed be rehabilitated. Many cannot which is why despite absolute due care by correctional institutions, they end up back in the courts and back in the only home many of them will ever know. I see no point in wasting time, money and resources on an individual who will not ever become a fit and productive member of society. The percentage of inmates who are in there because of a bad choice or an unfortunate mistake will not necessarily re-offend. It is comparitively easier to help someone who is led by concience and the will to improve than someone who lacks this.
Of those that remain, the serial offenders, those who commit unimaginable crimes, where do we draw the line? Is there some degree of mental illness in all of these people? Mental illness if it is a factor cannot be ignored.
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Old 11-25-2003, 10:15 AM   #8
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One of the big reasons for reoofending is that maximum security prisons are still hellholes. Rape is disgustingly prevalent in these institutions as just one example. They are such horrible places that the only people they can hire as guards are to a large extent (though not all cases) only a step above the inmates. Rehadbilitation has not been a priority which is why the hihg reoffeding rates.

One thing that needs to be done is a serious revealuation of priorities. Non-violent crime should not get a prison sentance. Hit them with fines (big ones, I'd say go by the old biblical what you stole or damaged plus 20% as a good start) punlic service and montioring chips for a public parole and public service. Much cheaper than prison, more streamlined and they can still interact with society instead of being warped by prison culture. Manditory visits to counselors and community based institutions would also be part of this.

Leave prison for violent offenders. This mean sfewer rpisons such that the prisons that will be in used can be better funded and safer. Money can be spent on more rehabilitation projects. Remove luxies like television and the internet, or at least limit the internet for monitored educational purposes. Keep things bare bones, to work and therapy or just containment and therapy if the inmate is still too dangerous. ANd if the inmate will not cooperate he/she will just stay in containment until they do. Tighten up the parole process, and make it a more multi step thing. After being in prison norma society is a big shock. In prison you take orders and have everything provided for you, being outside means being independent. Two toally different environments. Many criminals reoffend either cause they can't cope or they want back in prison. A multi stage system taking a couple of years before being out in public on their own would make repeate offenses less likely allo prisoners to reintegrate better and provide a last area to catch those who are not rehabilitated. There will always bereoffences and in that case in my book you only get one second chance and if you commit a violent crime again you're done. No system is perfectbut in the end we should seek to find one which does the most good while preventing the most harm.
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