Punishment or rehabilitation: which is more effective technique psychologically?

It is inevitably true that our world has always been full of people committing criminal acts. Currently, there are two main approaches implemented toward these criminals; one is physical or mental punishment and the other is rehabilitation of them, which results in their integration to the society. As far as I know, both techniques are utilized by different systems and philosophical waves: for instance, Islamic juridical system largely focusses on the punishment, while Scandinavian and protestant systems view rehabilitation more advantageous method. In this article, I will draw attention to the psychological outcomes of both and, then, state my own opinion backed up by reliable assumptions and accepted theories of neuroscience.

Firstly, it should be clarified in what context the efficacy of punishment and rehabilitation are going to be disclosed. With that aim in mind, I want to give the purpose of prisons; in the widely accepted systems, prisons are used to reduce the probability of prisoners to repeat the same action in the future. Quite a few people see punishment as more effective technique serving to the realization of this purpose, but some others have the same attitude toward rehabilitation.

In the USA, nowadays, longer prison sentences are commonly used with the purpose of giving enough time for prisoners to think about why their commitments are wrong.  Nevertheless, compelling statistics reveal that those being subject to intensified punishment and sentences are more prone to recidivism, the term used to signify the repetition of an undesirable action, than the others. But why is it like that? Psychologically, punishment is thought to have effect on people`s mind forcing them to get avoid of the source of the punishment. In other words, rather than escaping from tendency to commit criminal acts, they are focused on escaping from the place where the punishment is coming from, such as governmental courts, police or so on. As a result, when they become free and out of watch, their interest in crime reemerge. 

On the other side, rehabilitation of prisoners is also worth noticing. Primarily, it should be stated that rehabilitative measures are considered to be effective to deal with majority of criminals, except the ones with psychopathy and other untreatable mental disorders. The basic philosophy of rehabilitation is based on finding the interest area for prisoners, which create a strong emotional tie between them and the life. Subsequently, they should be persuaded that, in the real life, outside prisons, some better opportunities regarding their respective interest areas are accessible. These actions allow them to believe in the livability of the world. Thus, they ultimately begin to understand that if they commit something unacceptable in the society again, they will be sent back to prisons, barrier against the realization of their dreams and interests. To sum up, rehabilitation is aimed at finding something interesting for criminals, teaching them to believe in the possibility of realizing their dreams outside.

Conclusively, rehabilitation and punishment are holding two radical sides on one issue. Although so many people oppose this claim, I hold the view that rehabilitation, if took into action with personalized strategic plans, is possible to integrate the offenders into society.

1) Etienne Benson, Rehabilitate or punish, American Psychological Association,https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug03/rehab,2003
2)Micheal Karson, Punishment doesn`t work, Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-our-way/201401/punishment-doesnt-work,2014

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