Offender Rehabilitation and Punishment

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Offender Rehabilitation and Punishment

The criminal justice system is the collection of agencies and practices that uphold social order and mitigate crime in the society. As such, the main goals of the criminal justice system include community safety through monitoring the community members’ behavior through government agencies such as the police department. Further, the system intends to carry out offender rehabilitation, offender punishment, and victim restoration. All these goals are achieved through the coordination of justice agencies such as the judiciary arm of the government. Offender rehabilitation and offender punishment are two closely related goals that are achieved in closely related steps. While they may comprehend each other, offender rehabilitation is sometimes the exact opposite of punishment whichhas the exact opposite effects of rehabilitation.

Offender rehabilitation and punishment are two goals which support each other in the criminal justice system. For instance, the same facilities such as the prisons and jails where offenders are taken for rehabilitation are also used as a type of punishment. When an offender is arrested and arraigned in court, they may be found guilty and thus taken to prison. When doing their prison time, offenders learn how to be useful citizens of the state and how to live with others in the community. Different training programs such as carpentry are carried out in many prisons thus equipping the convicted offenders with the necessary skills to earn a living once they get out(Cole, 2016). This is a form of rehabilitation. This rehabilitation is carried out as a form of transforming the offenders to better people.

At the same time, the offenders do not have the freedom to live in the community and stay with their families at home. That way, the denial of their freedom to mingle freely in the society serves as a punishment. This punishment is carried out concurrently with the rehabilitation roles discussed above. Therefore, as the prisoner serves their sentence which is a punishment, they are trained in different programs to become better citizens and abandon their criminal activities. The prison system can, therefore, be seen as working to punish and rehabilitate the offenders at the same time. That way, it is safe to say that the two goals complement support each other.

It is, however, observable that offender punishment and rehabilitation can be opposing goals in the criminal justice system. Punishment and rehabilitation, when taken to be mutually exclusive, differ since they serve different purposes. The purpose of punishment is to pay back the worth of the crime committed. For instance, a person who drives recklessly is likely to pay a fee. Although it may be argued that the punishment is intended to deter the recurrence of a crime, punishment has no defined intentions of rehabilitating the offender(Daly, 2011). An example is the death penalty. The criminal justice system feels that it is necessary to execute an offender based on the gravity of the crime they have committed. This type of punishment goes against every tenet of rehabilitation. Some actions taken in punishing offenders are payback for their sins.

On the other hand, rehabilitation is a process aimed at transforming an offender to become a better version of him or herself. As such, rehabilitation programs will focus on the well-being of the offender. For instance, sending an offender to community service may be viewed as a means of building teamwork in him and thus making him a better person who can serve the society. Rehabilitation aims to produce a better person. Unlike the death penalty and some punitive justice steps, rehabilitation cares about the person who comes out at the end of the process. It is thus the exact opposite of punishment which is based on the payback for crimes committed. For instance, counseling a domestic violence offender and imprisoning terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay are two contradicting systems of criminal justice. While rehabilitation and punishment may be used to support each other, they serve contrasting purposes in some instances.


Cole, G. (2016). The American System of Criminal Justice. Mason, OH: Cengage Education.

Daly, K. (2011). Aims of the Criminal Justice System.Brisbane, Australia: Griffith University.

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