Globally, incarceration is perceived as the best approach of combating delinquency. It serves as both a punishment and as a form of deterrence. It involves imprisonment accompanied by correctional activities. It denies the offenders their freedom to move and restricts it to the involved facility, as punishment for their crimes and violation of laws. Though the main purpose of this imprisonment is punishment, it serves as a form of deterrence. It aids in warning the offenders against future crime. It also shows potential offenders what to expect if they engage in criminal activities, thus discouraging offenders. However, there is need to develop and implement prison reforms in the USA. Prison reforms aim at improving the conditions inside prisons and implementing alternatives to incarceration. This paper focuses on the latter agenda of promoting rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration using the social learning theory.
Researchers have put to question the effectiveness of incarceration as a method of punishments. Although incarceration may be effective for some crimes, rehabilitation is perceived as being more effective in the prevention of criminal activities.
Failures of Incarceration
Incarceration rates have been on the rise in recent decades. Imprisonment is so common now that people accept it as a normal part of life. This fact becomes even more apparent when the imprisoned criminals serve their time and rejoin the streets in no time (Gleissner n.p.). The process that is meant as punishment loses effect and becomes a part of life. Prison also allows the offenders to live in a state of seclusion where their behaviors are monitored. Therefore, the acts they exhibit while in there are vastly different from what they depict once released. They may return to their criminal activities once they acquire the freedom they lacked before. These people may also be used to living in prison such that they do not fear to commit any more crimes. The cost of imprisonment is high. The cost of feeding and tending to the prisoners is on the increase. Imprisonment laces the responsibility of issues such as healthcare to the justice system. It is especially so for life imprisonment.
Social Learning Theory
This theory provides that people observe their environment and those around them and reflect their behaviors to their character (Capece 2). Therefore, subjecting a person to a morally upright environment is bound to influence them to adopt those good behaviors. Rehabilitation gives offenders a chance to lead a typical life within the confines of the law. It aims at imparting skills and competencies that will aid a person in leading a productive life in the future.
Critiquing Theory: Biological Theory
This theory argues that the social learning theory discredits the influence of genetics, the brain, and learning differences in criminal behavior. They claim that some deeds cannot be learned and that people partially inherit the criminal behaviors they exhibit. This theory is not effective as an argument against rehabilitation. Accepting this theory means that criminals can blame their actions on their genes. They may expect to present their genes as a defense in court and anticipate consideration.
Rehabilitation is a less cruel way of dealing with crime than incarceration. It gives people a second chance to be exposed to a healthy emotional and social environment to promote ethical behavior and a productive lifestyle to reform past offenses. It is also less expensive than incarceration since it allows the offenders to work for a living as they lead productive lives.
Capece, M. “Social Learning Theory.” The Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, 2015, pp. 1-6, doi:10.1002/9781118519639.wbecpx162.Gleissner, J. D. “Some Reasons Why Incarceration Does Not Work Very Well.” 28 Feb. 2011, www.corrections.com/articles/27870-some-reasons-why-incarceration-does-not-work-very-well.
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