What changes could have been implemented to create more positive outcomes in crime policies

 Context: Voices opposing traditional crime policies were also emerging from within the criminal justice system. Frequent complaints were raised from racially charged corners asserting that the rehabilitative initiatives were not only ineffective but abused. Activist groups asserted that “rehabilitative” tools were used to “repress blacks, the poor, the young, and various cultural minorities” (Garland, 2001, p. 55). These groups rallied for a “Prisoner’s Bill of Rights” and were in favor of the uniformity brought by standardized sentencing guidelines and decriminalizing general social offenses, such as public intoxication, vagrancy, and truancy, which could be more appropriately handled through nongovernmental agencies such as social services.

In line with the activists, the 1960s brought a wave of concern regarding the repression of individualism and freedom present in “rehabilitation.” The social voice of the 1960s suggested that individual values and freedoms were more supported by well-defined punitive measures than by rehabilitative correctional methods.

Additionally, Judge Marvin Frankel argued in 1972 for regulations on the sentencing discretion of judges. Sentencing reform gave way to the use of parole, fixed-term sentencing, and appropriate sanctions for crimes. The standardization of penalties simplified the criminal justice system as well as created confidence in the system by removing some of the discretionary (and sometimes abused) power of the criminal administrators.

Von Hirsch created the first sentencing matrix, which aligned offenses with previous offenses to determine appropriate sentencing. James Wilson echoed the support of fixed sentencing established by Von Hirsch by identifying that American crime rates were so high in the 1970s because criminals knew that their chances of being caught, prosecuted, and stringently punished were low. Therefore, punishments must be severe enough to deter crime. Additionally, contributing to the move from the rehabilitative methods of traditional crime policy, funding for treatment programs and research was significantly cut in the 1980s by legislative reorganization.

Task Description: Argue for and against the rights of a criminal to have mandatory “rehabilitation.” Then analyze contemporary examples in modern society that support each of Hirschman’s theories. Describe what changes could have been implemented to create more positive outcomes for your examples. Which outcome do you think is better for society as a whole? Defend your position.

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