Prison Programs That Produce : Religion Was Important in Efforts to Rehabilitate Criminals in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. It Is Now Considered a New Method of Altering the Careers of Chronic Offenders

By Himelson, Alfred | The World and I, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Prison Programs That Produce : Religion Was Important in Efforts to Rehabilitate Criminals in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. It Is Now Considered a New Method of Altering the Careers of Chronic Offenders


Himelson, Alfred, The World and I


In 1974, criminal rehabilitation programs were no longer seen as effective vehicles for reducing recidivism. Most research evaluations of a wide variety of programs indicated meager or no results in reducing the number of convicts returning to prison. The coup de grace came from sociologist Robert Martinson's article in Public Interest, "What Works--Questions and Answers About Prison Reform." Martinson, backed up by statistics, questioned the effectiveness of many categories of rehabilitation programs and also rued the poor methodological quality of the studies. According to Martinson, "It is possible that some of our treatment programs are working to some extent, but our research is so bad it is incapable of telling."

The resulting disillusionment with criminal rehabilitation might have been less shattering if the original designers of these programs in the 1950s and '60s had not with little evidence made grandiose claims for what they might accomplish. Claims of success rates of 80 percent were not uncommon. Careful evaluation usually indicated little or no difference between program subjects and a matched group of inmates who hadn't participated in this form of rehabilitation.

The lack of results coupled with the rising U.S. crime rate led correctional administrators to state publicly that it was time to stop relying on rehabilitation to solve the problem of high rates of recidivism and move on to other means. It appeared that the 100-year-old criminal rehabilitation movement was moribund, if not quite expired. But two events that occurred in the 1980s led to its partial revival.

The first was the development of a new statistical technique. Many studies prior to the introduction of meta-analysis showed modestly successful results but because of small sample size did not reach the level of statistical significance. In meta-analysis, by assessing the outcomes of a larger number of similar studies, it was possible, according to David B. Wilson of George Mason University, to "focus on the size and direction of effects across studies rather than the statistical significance of individual effects."

Looked at this way, the results indicated a modest degree of success for vocational, educational, behavior modification, and other programs. Program practitioners still have a tendency to make grandiose claims about the success of particular rehabilitation programs. The real results of well-conceived and researched programs now indicate that we should typically expect program subjects to have 10 to 15 percent less recidivism than nonprogram subjects with comparable backgrounds.

The second event was the introduction of various forms of cognitive-behavioral treatment. These, according to clinical psychologist James McGuire, include social skills training, social problem solving, rational-emotive therapy, and reasoning programs. They replaced nonbehavioral treatment that had earlier been one of the mainstays of prison rehabilitation efforts. Included in this latter category were Freudian-oriented programs and watered-down versions that defined inmates as "sick" and ascribed their emotional illness to foul-ups in childhood development.

These kinds of programs ordinarily had two strikes against them. The first was the scarcity in the prison setting of competent analytic therapists or group leaders. The second problem stemmed from the nature of the inmate prison culture, which was strongly opposed to having most criminals defined as emotionally ill. Due to this opposition, many or most of the unwilling participants in this mode of treatment would not accept the definition of their "problems" assigned by therapists. Without a meeting of the minds (either full or partial) between the therapist and inmate, this variety of treatment was destined to fail. Research results showed this to be the case.

Religious rehabilitation programs

It is ironic that religion, which was important in efforts to rehabilitate criminals at the end of the eighteenth century and for most of the nineteenth century, is now being seriously considered as a new method of altering the careers of chronic offenders. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Prison Programs That Produce : Religion Was Important in Efforts to Rehabilitate Criminals in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. It Is Now Considered a New Method of Altering the Careers of Chronic Offenders
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.