Rehabilitation vs penalization

>> Monday, June 27, 2016

Ike Señeres

What enters the language is often difficult to remove, and sometimes it takes decades to do so. Such is the case of the word penalize, a word that has stuck to the language of the justice system even up to now. As we know it now, the word has stuck to the language, even if a paradigm shift has already happened in many justice systems all over the world.
I think it was Bill Gates who asked what is bigger than a paradigm shift, and he provided the answer that a “sea change” is bigger than a paradigm shift. Considering the magnitude of problems that we are facing now in our justice system, it does seem that we now need “sea changes”, rather than just paradigm shifts.
When I was a Senior Fellow at the University of Life, I learned that there was more to teaching than just pedagogy. Of course I already knew then what the meaning of pedagogy was, but I was pleasantry surprised that there was such a thing as andragogy, wherein the focus is not so much on teaching from the perspective of the teacher, but learning from the perspective of the student.
The sea change from pedagogy to andragogy is rather slow, but what is even slower perhaps is the sea change from penalization to rehabilitation, in the case of our justice system. As I understand it, the purpose of sending a convict to jail is not so much to punish him or her, but to rehabilitate him or her so that he or she would already be reformed when he or she goes back to the community.
While this theory may be flawed when it comes to convicts who are sentenced to life imprisonment, we are of course forever hopeful that some of them could be rehabilitated and could be reformed to the point where they could already apply for parole based on good behavior. Aside from that, there is always that possibility of pardon.
In a manner of speaking, it could be said that being imprisoned is already a form of punishment by itself, so much so that there seems to be no more need to penalize a prisoner any further. It could be argued that hard labor is a form of punishment, but that may also be considered as part of disciplining them. For good measure however, it would be good to make the prisoners work on tasks that could increase their skills as a way of preparing them for their return to the community.
In theory, the more rehabilitated a prisoner is, the more prepared he or she would be to return to the community. Conversely, the more rehabilitated a prisoner is, the safer it is for the community, because the released convict would be supposedly less prone to commit any more crimes. In other words, rehabilitation is good not only for the prisoner, but also for the community.
In theory, a prisoner is still a citizen and he does not lose anything because of his conviction, other than his right to vote. What that means is that when he or she returns to the community, he or she should be able to do everything that any other citizen could do, except again to vote. As we know it however, this is too far from the reality, because it is often difficult for a released prisoner to apply for a job or to start a business.
Looking at this from my perspective as an information and communications technology (ICT) practitioner, I think that there are many ways for prisoners to also take advantage of the technology. Among others, they could use electronic commerce to sell their products, and they could use electronic learning to acquire certificates and diplomas as a way of adding to their qualifications.
The corrections component is part of the five pillars of justice that also includes the community, law enforcement, prosecution and the courts system. From the corporate perspective, it could be said that the five pillars would actually form one end to end complete supply chain. In that sense, it could be said that except for those who have life sentences or death sentences, all prisoners would return to the community where they come from. That is actually the idea behind the process of rehabilitation, to prepare these prisoners for their eventual return to the community.
Furthermore, the idea is to rehabilitate a prisoner so that he or she would become a responsible member of society when he or she returns to the community, instead of being a convict again, in which case he or she would have to go back again to the supply chain where he or she came from. As we know it now from actual experience, there is more of a tendency to now for a prisoner to become more of a hardened criminal when he or she returns to society, in which the lack of rehabilitation would actually produce more criminals instead of reducing their numbers.
By comparison, it would appear that the Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) is more aptly named than the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). As its name implies, BUCOR is into corrections, while BJMP is into penology. Between the two, it seems that it is BJMP that needs to have a sea change from penalization to rehabilitation. Notwithstanding its appropriate name however, BUCOR also appears to be focused on penalization as well and in that sense, it would also need a sea change from penalization to rehabilitation.

It is laudable that the new government is now committed to removing the apparent nerve center of the illegal drug trade from inside the prisons system. I have no doubt that the commitment will be met because of the political will that it has been exhibiting, but beyond the crackdown on the drug trade inside the prisons, the focus should eventually shift towards making the prisons more conducive to rehabilitation instead of the reverse.Email or text +639956441780


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