Reform through Community: Resocializing Offenders in the Kibbutz

Reform through Community: Resocializing Offenders in the Kibbutz

Reform through Community: Resocializing Offenders in the Kibbutz

Reform through Community: Resocializing Offenders in the Kibbutz


A study of successful resocialization, this book describes the subjective experiences of Israeli ex-convicts adopted as temporary members of Kibbutzim. Focusing on the offenders' perception, Fischer and Geiger explain how a world of hard work, egalitarianism, interdependence, support, and acceptance yielded involvement, commitment, and higher self-esteem. Drawing from this empirical study and theories of social psychology and criminology, Fischer and Geiger present a model for resocialization in the context of community. Valuable to students and scholars of social psychology, criminology, and Judaic Studies.


Few challenges are as stubborn as that of regenerating offenders. You can make a new man (or woman) out of an offender. and then you can watch, with incipient despair, how the streets retake him like a jungle takes your neglected yard. You can engender new resolves and even change habits. But you cannot change the world to which people return, nor affect lifelong attachments which dictate their responses to temptations and pressures of the world.

Offenders, like the rest of us, are products of their upbringing. But most offenders are brought up by fellow-offenders, who are peers. in reforming offenders one does not compete with subtle sediments of their past. One deals with live contenders who know which button to press to get the offender's attention. One competes with familiar rewards of a congenial group. the group can offer status, admiration, friendship, risk and adventure, escapes through drugs and sex.

And what can we offer that could compete? Where is an enticing substitute world, with rewards that are substantial enough to get offenders to leave their game and join ours? What can we show seasoned delinquents to match the glamor of their vocation? What style of life? What prospects?

It is hard to conceive that the answer could include a world of hard work, regimentation, discipline, dawn-to dusk-toil and the smell of manure. a world of communal decisions, reciprocity, interdependence. An ascetic, quasi-saintly, self-denying world. "Is it possible?" you say. of course not. Ridiculous and preposterous! Cannot be done! But it has been done and is being done now, and this book describes how and why it would work. Much to our surprise we come to see that as this remarkable story unfolds, its logic persuades. By the end of the account, a model emerges of effective rehabilitation that is transplantable to . . .

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