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A Critical Analysis of Rehabilitation in Contemporary Penal Policy

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8

2000

A working definition of “rehabilitation” is needed in order to perform an analysis, though even a few definitions evidence how differently the word can be interpreted. The British Humanist Association, in discussing rehabilitation, comments whether we should “be reforming and educating criminals, so that they have something better to do with their lives and no longer want to commit crimes?”. Lewis, after summarizing the many documents produced of late by the Home Office on the topic of crime, states, “These documents seem to give significant weight to the rehabilitation of offenders on the basis that such strategies will reduce reoffending”. Clearly, while both have a goal of reducing the commission of crimes by former inmates, the Humanists appear to have a concern for the content of the strategies, not just the process. Lewis proposes his own definition of rehabilitation, “the process whereby offenders are afforded the opportunity to be full members of society, with the rights and responsibilities that this entails.”