Occasionally, in lieu of being incarcerated, convicted offenders will be ordered to undergo a type of rehabilitation, often as a condition of their parole or probation. These rehabilitation programs are generally psychological in nature, with offenders undergoing treatment for various emotional and mental disorders. Sometimes these programs will be offered in prison as well.
Perhaps the most common type of rehabilitation is substance abuse rehabilitation, in which the offender undergoes counseling for a dependence on a physically addictive substance, such as drugs or alcohol. Usually, rehabilitation is assigned to those offenders convicted of crimes related to drug use or who have admitted to drug use playing a factor in their crimes. Rehabilitation will generally take the form of various kinds of therapy, including one-on-one counseling from a psychologist or substance abuse counselor; group therapy with other substance abusers; and 12-step programs. It common for the successful completion of a substance abuse rehabilitation program to be a stipulation of parole or probation.
Many of those convicted of sex offenses, such as rape or child molestation, will undergo special rehabilitation designed to improve their chances of not committing another sexual. According to psychologist Ruth Masters, these programs take different forms, most of which are tailored to a particular offense. For example, those convicted of a crime involving pedophilia, such as child molestation or possession of child pornography, may undergo counseling designed to help them control urges or change their thought processes. For rapists, rehabilitation may involve anger-management classes, relationship counseling, or therapy in which they work out their frustrations towards women.
Educational counseling is designed to help inmates or recently released ex-offenders receive the basic education necessary to attain a job. The most basic educational rehabilitation programs focus on teaching elementary math and reading skills. More advanced programs help prepare students for a G.E.D. test or a career in a vocational trade. Generally, success in finding a job will lower an ex-offender's chance of being incarcerated again.
In life skills courses, students are taught how to perform basic tasks necessary to being a functioning member of society, such as making a budget, preparing a resume, and paying bills. Often, many inmates are unequipped to accomplish these tasks, which may have helped influence their decision to commit crimes. This kind of rehabilitation is designed to help restore convicts to functioning members of society.
- University of South Australia: Correctional Offender Rehabilitation Programs:
- Office of National Drug Control Policy: Drug Treatment in the Criminal Justice System
- "Counseling Criminal Justice Offenders"; Ruth Masters; 2003
- Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice: Rehabilitation
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Rehabilitation Programs Division
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.