Rehabilitation of Criminals
Our present view regarding criminals is that the criminals are sick individuals whose criminal behavior is as a result of underlying maladjustment and therefore treatment and rehabilitation instead of prolonged imprisonment is the best way of reducing criminal tendencies of a person.
No doubt we strongly realize the importance of rehabilitation and treatment in extinguishing criminal tendencies, but still majority of our prison staff comprises of guards administrators and other personal and only a minor fraction consists of persons working in penal institutions as treatment staff, thus in a sense belying the fact that we have accepted the above two measures i.e. rehabilitation and treatment as effective method.
It must however be stated that imprisonment of some offenders may be necessary and may even have positive value, but its effectiveness is enormously increased if it includes opportunities for rehabilitation, for atonement, reduction and socialization including the development of a sense of purpose and responsibility to society.
Imprisonment without such redeeming characteristics is neither a major deterrent to criminal behavior nor a helpful form of a treatment.
In line with the concept of rehabilitation rather than punishment of criminal offenders a number of approaches have been introduced in recent years.
Indeterminate / Intermediate Sentences / Parole :-
In view of deplorable conditions existing in penal institutions, the courts become increasingly reluctant to send offenders to prison, unless it was considered absolutely necessary. Thus the indeterminate sentences came into wide use. It was intended to facilitate, return to the community if prisoners who meet qualification for parole.
Unfortunately the indeterminate sentences also make a prisoner’s fate more subject to the whims of those who have power over him, particularly when it is capriciously applied. In fact it may give the prisoner less control over what happens to him, since he can no longer be sure that after x months or years he will be pried or parole. Many inmates would prefer a clear penalty to an indeterminate sentence in which they have to please the authorities on order to get out. In addition, this whole structure is based on the questionable assumptions that law enforcement personnel can predict the behaviour of paroled offenders.
Plea Bargaining –
Delays and heavy workloads in the courts have resulted in an informal system of pretrial bargaining and settlement known as plea bargaining. Here a suspect may be induced to admit part or all of the crime charged in return for specific punishment, rather than await trial with the possibility of either acquittal or more serious punishment.
However plea bargaining has several dangers, one of which is presumption of guilt without trial. Even an innocent suspect may confers in order to have matter settled promptly.