Types of Prison Rehabilitation

Inmates educational program
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Individuals living in prisons are there to have certain freedoms of life restricted after being convicted of criminal activity. The goal of prison is to both punish and rehabilitate the inmates, with the intent that upon release an inmate has a higher chance of reentering society and functioning without criminal activity. Although not all inmates participate in rehabilitation programs, some rehabilitation programs include educational, spiritual, work and transitional programs.


Educational programs within the prison environment include classes to help with obtaining a GED or High School Diploma, college level coursework, learning English as a second language and activities within the library. Inmates who increase their skills in these areas often have a higher chance of reentering society and being more successful at not repeating criminal behavior. Working within these educational settings gives an inmate something else to do with his time.


Prisons hire chaplains to minister, supervise and manage the spiritual needs of an inmate population. Inmates are free to practice any religion of their choosing, including no religion at all. Community leaders and organizations often volunteer their time to provide study over sacred texts, worship services, meditation sessions and other times of spiritual practice in accordance with prison rules and safety requirements. Self-help programs are also provided, such as life-building and communication skill-building classes.

Work Programs

Working within the prison gives inmates several benefits, including a structured work day, job experience, the ability to practice positive team-building skills and receiving pay that helps them fund incidental living expenses behind bars. Work programs include inmates working as part of day-labor crews that are hired to do things like janitorial work, stripping and waxing of flooring, garbage cleanup along state and federal roadways, concrete work, landscaping and other similar types of work. After release, this work experience can help inmates obtain jobs or help in providing paperwork to the court for receiving custody of children from foster care.

Some of the work programs can include vocational training such as working in prison laundries, kitchens or farms. The evidence isn't clear whether this translates into new job skills for prisoners upon their release.

Transitional Programs

Transitional rehabilitation programs help the inmate prepare for release and then guide the inmate back to successful reentry to society. These take the form of counseling to help with anxieties about being released, and sessions that provide information on local resources that help with free clothing, housing assistance and more. Some inmates may be required to stay at a halfway house for a temporary period, where he is provided assistance in finding employment, required to save money, abide by a curfew and abstain from alcohol and drug usage. These rules vary depending on the type and purpose each halfway house.


  • Although not all inmates participate in rehabilitation programs, some rehabilitation programs include educational, spiritual, work and transitional programs.

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