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Dealing with offenders Assignment

A- Summary

The chapter start by looking at the role of punishment .The purpose of imprisonment is mainly containment of offenders, their treatment and re-training. However prison authorities have accepted that training and treatment are no longer important priorities and achievable aims. These days imprisonment is seen more as the protection it offers to society, rather than as an environment which can change the individuals criminal lifestyle. It considers why prisons are ineffective in changing behavior and which methods appears to be more effective in trying to prevent offenders from committing further crime.

There are many reasons why prisons are largely ineffective in preventing re-offending, two of the main reasons being that firstly 95 percent of those who commit crimes are not convicted and secondly those who are punished are sentenced months if not years after they have committed the crime. Wide ranges of methods, which attempt to reduce re-offending, have been used and will continue to be used. Although these differ widely depending on the type of individual and the type of crime.

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Different methods such as the ‘penal harm movement’, give expectations that perhaps prisons will be effective. For example: the problem of prisoners who are exposed to overcrowding will be motivated enough to remove themselves from the prison and try not to re-offend, although the opposite seems to be true. Some suggest that if the aim is to lower recidivism rates, reducing prison overcrowding should become a priority.

Attempts to rehabilitate rather then simply punish are being used. Sending people to prison may satisfy societies demand for retribution and will incapacitate those detained, but may actually do little to change the attitudes or behavior of those sentenced. In contrast to the notion of retribution is the assumption that harsher sentences lead too less offending. Deterrence, reform, incapacitation and public fear may achieve this. Although on release from prison, significant numbers will re-offend within a short period of time. Such facts have prompted some within the criminal justice system to introduce different forms of intervention.

Many characteristics have been identified which differentiate successful programs from the less successful ones. Successful programs are mainly educational and include high program integrity, good management and have cognitive behavioral focus. These attempt to change the values attitudes, beliefs and action of offenders

Wide ranges of programs are being covered including counseling, probation, and parole. The main concerns about the apparent ineffectiveness of rehabilitation continue as many suggest that the main priority of prison officials should be to administer justice not officials. Another view, that if people choose to commit crime than to obey the law, then they should be punished, rather than treated.

However recent research does show that a number of well planned psychological interventions can be successful in reducing re-offending, although the second part of the argument does not appeal to hold true as significant numbers of those convicted, re-offend within days of being released according to statistics from the home-office. Many argue that resources would be better targeted at changing offender’s attitudes behavior and skills and more schemes were being introduced then In the long term such interventions maybe more successful.

B-The disciplinary and theoretical perspective of the author:

From reading and summarizing the article, one can comment that the author looks at the way offenders should be dealt with from different angles. However the assumption I have made is that the authors is speaking through a psychological perspective. Firstly the author comments on the thoughts of the victims, and how they feel offenders should be dealt with. However the author then starts looking at the topic from a sociological angle as he refers what society thinks punishment is and how they think offenders should be dealt with.

When mentioning the schemes and programs being arranged for the offenders, the author and many other theorists in the article refer to the behavior patterns and thoughts of the offender, whilst committing the crime and whilst in prison. The article refers to the behaviorist, cognitive and psychodynamic approaches, which are all branches or psychology.

C-Terms and Concepts


Reform means to put an end to a wrong and cause a person to give up harmful or immoral practices and persuade them to adopt a better way of life, and change for the better. It is also an action to improve social or economic conditions without radical or revolutionary change. Referring to the article where the idea that reform will lead to a reduction in crime, using the Police Reform Act 2002,

Police intend to do this working to give our police forces the skills, leadership and resources they need to provide a better service to our communities. They are also creating consistent ways to monitor police performance, so that they know which improvements are working. The offender may also be asked to change his ways while serving his/her sentence. In-order to bring about reform in the offender, the government have introduced Schemes which focus on skills of development and understanding the reasoning of social rules. This gives offenders the opportunity to become productive members of the society, which will in turn decrease conviction rates.


Is a topic of psychology explaining that the unconscious mental processes developed early in childhood can control the human personality (cognition emotion and behavior)?

In the unconscious is the ID, which operates on the pleasure principle. In the conscious part of the mind are the superego and the ego. The superego is our social conscience that threatens punishment and is formed by influences such parental, culture or family. The ego is concerned with social rules and operates on the reality principle. It is modified by the real world and comes between the ID and the real world, it has reason and common sense. This theory also claims that during childhood an individual may get fixated at a particular stage, which lead to specific types of behavior later on in life. Fixation is shown as regressing to behavior typical of that stage e.g. smoking – oral stage. These problems can be dealt with through psychoanalysis.

Psychologists who have had daily contact with serial murderers in a prison setting feel that they have a multiple personality structure, and an overwhelming urge to kill, which becomes unbearable and takes them over. Serial murderers, who have been interviewed, have stated that while committing murders, they felt as if their personalities had been taken over.

An individual with multiple personality disorder has learned to deal with emotional stress by repressing traumatic memories and emotions into his unconscious mind. He would have used defense mechanisms to create an area in which he could repress negative emotions (such as hatred, anger), attitudes, and potential behavior patterns. This creates a continuous build up of these emotions, which gains strength over time as negative emotions repress into it. It eventually develops a structure, identity, and purpose of its own, and manifests itself at the time of the crime.


A strategy of punishment associated with the Classical School. Deterrence can either be specific, punishing an individual so that they won’t commit a crime again, or general, punishing an individual to set an example to society, so that others will not commit the same crime. Some say that deterrence has many positive effects and should be used. One example of its success is on the roads with drivers. Most impaired drivers are never stopped. Others are stopped, but police often miss signs of impairment. It has been estimated that close to 1,000 alcohol-impaired driving trips occur for every arrest.

Because the police cannot catch all offenders, the success of alcohol-impaired driving laws depends on deterring potential offenders by creating the public perception that apprehension and punishment of offenders is likely. Research has shown that likelihood of apprehension is more important in deterring offenders than is the severity of punishment. Others have suggested that deterrence causes detrimental effects.

A New York Times survey, released in September 2000, found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 percent to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty. Within the report Researchers Keith Harries and Derral Cheatwood studied differences in homicides in 293 counties that were paired based on factors such as geographic location and demographic and economic variables. The pairs shared a contiguous border, but differed on use of capital punishment. The authors found no support for a deterrent effect. They however did find higher violent crime rates in death penalty counties.

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