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Re-thinking the Purpose of the Criminal Justice System: Rehabilitation

By Dr. Gary L. Deel, Ph.D., J.D., Faculty Director, School of Business, American Military University

In the first part of this article series, we looked at retribution as a petty and unproductive aim for the criminal justice and penal system in the United States. In the second part, we looked at rehabilitation as a more enlightened aim for offenders. But we also talked about how sentencing prisoners to death or life in prison can’t be squared with a rehabilitation philosophy.

Because of this incongruity, we might do well to rethink our position on life sentences and capital punishment. Looking again to Norway, judges there are limited to maximum 21-year sentences for convicted criminals regardless of the charges.

This policy was the source of outrage in Norway and the United States when right-wing extremist and mass murderer Anders Breivik was sentenced to just 21 years for the slaughter of 77 people, most of them youngsters, in Norway in 2011. But the Norwegian approach is based on the idea that no offender is beyond the capacity for rehabilitation. And again, in terms of results, it seems to be effective, at least more so than America’s results.

The full article can be found here- https://inpublicsafety.com/2020/07/rethinking-the-purpose-of-the-criminal-justice-system-rehabilitation/

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Re-Thinking the Purpose of the Criminal Justice System - Part II

Rehabilitation, or rehabilitative justice, purports that the purpose of the system is to correct undesirable behavior so that convicted criminals don’t reoffend when they are released back into society. This goal seems much more worthwhile and morally defensible than retribution. The problem, however, is that at present rehabilitative justice just doesn’t work.