Offender Rehabilitation Treatment


The purpose of rehabilitation is present in criminal codes of all modern countries. It is simply impossible to imagine criminal law without the rehabilitation of offenders. Possible rehabilitation success depends on the degree of criminal’s immersion, efforts of the correctional institutions in pulling the perpetrator from the criminal environment and antisocial lifestyle. Rehabilitation has begun to be perceived as a conceptual and ideological basis of the entire system of humanistic-oriented criminal justice that is appreciated by the society. Until recently, the belief that the crime issue will ultimately be solved by the invention of better and more effective means of influencing the prisoners was an integral part of the liberal tradition, in which punishment was clearly treated as a benefit. The idea of rehabilitation consists in the treatment of the offender from his criminal conduct. In other words, it is an intention to change the identity of the perpetrator, his outlook, acquired criminal habits, discover opportunities that would reduce the risk of committing a crime again. The position of previously convicted people is complicated by the fact that during the period of imprisonment they routinely obey the strict rules of prison, lose the ability to self-sufficiency, forget the need to take care of themselves, and rely on the prudence of administration. The final and most important stage of re-socialization of the former convict is his adaptation to life in freedom. They usually face new and sometimes difficult conditions, poor living, the destruction of old social ties, lack of housing, difficulties in finding employment, and so on. All this requires considerable mental efforts, patience, endurance, strength. The result is often that a person commits crimes again. These challenges include the need for correctional institutions that would provide the released with the psychological preparation to life in a new environment. Today, rehabilitative paradigm is represented with a variety of forms and methods, without which modern system of criminal justice cannot be imagined.

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Psychological Rehabilitation

Only moral and practical training of the offenders that prepares them to life in normal conditions is not enough. Psychological training is needed to stimulate the mind, shape installation on appropriate behavior in conditions of freedom. As a result of such targeted actions, psychological readiness to live in a new environment will appear. This provides a painless entry into a new social environment and the activities in it without any additional expenditure of energy to overcome internal resistance. The value of psychological training has increased significantly due to the fact that the psychological factor and, in particular, its role in recidivism has undergone a profound analysis in recent years. Psychological preparation performs the initial and final link in the process of reforming and reeducation of offenders. It consists in enhancing their psyche, attitude, feelings, habits, mental states, and the formation of the installation to behave properly in the new environment. The need for psychological preparation is caused by the fact that offenders meet specific difficulties, which they are not always psychologically ready to overcome. This is often compounded by the wrong attitudes towards prisoners, which lead to excessive excitation or inhibition of nerve processes and thus to nervous breakdowns. The convicted start misjudging their behavior and actions of others. Psychological preparation helps overcome the inertia of the human psyche, accelerates its restructuring due to changes in circumstances. The most important is strengthening of the positive qualities of the person in the process of psychological preparation to life. This can be done by an appeal to the best side of the personality, reminding of its past achievements, activating positive attitudes, moral, political and legal sense, and an expression of confidence. 

Psychological preparation consists of two main sections: general and special psychological training. The system of an overall impact on the convicts is an integral part of their correction and re-education. It is customary to distinguish methods of individual and collective (group) psychological impact. Individual psychological impact is conducted on a separate personality, while the collective one is directed to a group of convicts. The offenders who are in prison and are going to be released soon are the perfect candidates for psychological rehabilitation. However, there are particular limitations in the psychological rehabilitation. Firstly, rehabilitation treatment can face offenders’ reluctance to recognize the need of psychological support. Moreover, an effect of criminal environment is a serious obstacle in receiving positive outcomes in psychological rehabilitation.

Social Rehabilitation

Social rehabilitation of released prisoners is a complex and multifaceted process. It covers a range of issues of their moral, psychological and practical preparation for life in society, the development of new social roles, and formation of useful contacts. Moreover, it presupposes the removal or neutralization of the negative factors that prevent the return in the mainstream of honest compliance with the laws of existence. Social rehabilitation is characterized by certain limitations. In particular, it depends on the degree of social exclusion of a person, criminal activity, its duration, and the state of the microenvironment. It is almost impossible to influence the identity of the perpetrator, who has served the punishment without making adjustments in the surrounding social environment and changing modes of interaction with it. Social rehabilitation is possible only if it is accompanied by the inclusion of a person in the world of work (study), the establishment of healthy family relationships, restoration of public relations and communication, strengthening of the system of moral values as a regulator of social behavior. It is the most appropriate for offenders who have just been released or are going to be released as it is aimed at helping to overcome difficulties of social character. Professional rehabilitation consists of multiple components: job search or career choices, the problem of production adaptation, the degree of satisfaction with the work as a factor of consolidation in the workplace, and so on. The reproduction of normal family relations is also an important factor in the success or failure of social rehabilitation. The vast majority of the offenders seek to return to their families. Therefore, their fates depend on how the family will meet them and develop relationships with them. Recreating the normal communication links is one of the most important processes of rehabilitation of former prisoners in the establishment of non-conflict relations in society. A search of communication is conducted in a familiar environment, where it is easier to get information and find sympathy.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation is another method of treatment of the former offenders. A significant role is assigned to the work due to the diversity of available educational opportunities. In the process of socially useful work, people develop their physical and professional ability, create, establish, and develop the basic moral qualities. Work reveals the moral position, attitude to socially important values. The role of the convicts’ labor is not confined to educational content. Its use has recreational, disciplining and economic importance. Labor activity of convicts is an important mean of maintaining order and discipline in prisons. Laziness has demoralizing effect on criminals, contributes to the commission of offenses and crimes. The economic importance of the labor of convicts consists in allowing correctional institution to function properly in modern conditions. An important principle of work organization of the imprisoned is a combination of labor and vocational training. This principle is implemented through compulsory primary education or vocational training. Despite the effectiveness of rehabilitation, it faces particular degree of limitation of ability to work because of certain disabilities or diseases.

Substance Abuse

The process of rehabilitation of drug addicts includes medical, psychological and psychosocial activities, which form a single complex but are conducted in different institutions. As a rule, medical rehabilitation stage is carried out in in-patient departments of drug treatment clinics. The psychological stage is implemented in special rehabilitation departments of these institutions. The main objective of drug treatment services is the provision of emergency and routine medical and psychological care to patients, who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. The purpose of medical and social work is to achieve the optimum possible level of adaptation and functioning of persons with physical, mental and social pathology. As a rule, such persons are in a difficult situation. The object of medical and social work is various groups of people, who have expressed health and social problems caused by drug abuse and substance dependence that mutually potentiate each other. The limitation of rehabilitation of substance abuse deals with the fact that working with such patients is equally difficult and inefficient for both health workers and social services professionals, as they inevitably face a range of challenges beyond their occupational competence. The most effective method of social rehabilitation is rehabilitation centers, where treatment is realized under the supervision of specialists, therapists and counselors. The main task of social rehabilitation of drug addicts is a recovery of lost social norms and values, knowledge and skills. Rehabilitation center conducts efficient group socialization of addicts. The latter undergo rehabilitation in particular social groups.

Religious Rehabilitation

One more type of rehabilitation is religious one. Mostly, it deals with rehabilitation of the former addicts. One of the main advantages of this method is that rehabilitation is free in most cases. Free treatment and rehabilitation is a chance for drug addicts who do not have any sort of material resources. The main purpose of religious rehabilitation centers is helping people in the liberation of the disease. Such centers for alcoholics and drug addicts base their work on a combination of traditional methods of treatment that include occupational therapy and participation in worship. From the point of view of Christianity, healing cannot be received without purification of the soul. 

Public organizations of the Orthodox laity work closely with the Church to create professional rehabilitation centers that use successful practice methodology, and combine the latter with their own work. There is a huge demand coming from the society, and the Church itself establishes such centers and church communities. Many centers host sick for quite a long time, at least a year. This can be the rural center or a monastery. In the monastery, one attains peace of mind, and learns to deal with his passions, to live again. For people who cannot, for whatever reason, come for rehabilitation, interviews, outpatient treatment, counseling by phone are organized. Also, relatives of the patient can always receive the support and spiritual help. Person must realize his sin, clearly and definitely. Repentance, without which it is impossible to heal from the sinful passions, means a change of thought, the reconciliation of man with himself, people and God. It is believed that the Lord will help every good movement of the soul. The basic rule of admission to rehabilitation is strong determination to break an addiction. 

The aim of the founders of the religious centers is the elimination of substance dependence in stable remission, not in bringing followers to any faith. After the realization of their past actions, rather than through the religious nature of the program, patients can see what has originally stood behind their outlook. Cornell (n.d.) states that religious rehabilitation proved to be effective since criminals, who were under its influence, behaved better after they were released from the prison. In particular, offenders who received religious support and instructions in prisons are less likely to commit crime again. 

However, there are certain limitations in religious rehabilitation treatment. In an attempt to force offenders to reveal sense and purpose of their lives, religious approach becomes excessively individualistic. Moreover, this kind of rehabilitation fails to provide the search of sense within the institutional structural context of the modernity.

The Use and Effect of Religious Rehabilitation

Nowadays, medical practices are quite effectively eliminating primary components of physical dependence on a drug. However, psychological dependence is stable, not easily corrected, which causes the appearance of recurrence and a rapid return to drugs. Moreover, the medical aid organizations completely ignore the spiritual aspect of addiction. However, there are a few of the most common programs for the rehabilitation of drug addicts that have positive results. In particular, twelve-step program is one of the spiritually-oriented techniques. The organizers consider their method as non-religious, because it does not call for observing the rules and customs of any particular religion or denomination. However, the origins of the twelve-step program go to the culture of the North American Protestantism. 

The program consists of twelve steps, each of which has the greatest significance in a certain period of remission. The first step of the program is the recognition of the problem and powerlessness to solve it. The second step is the recognition of the existence of a Higher Power that can help overcome the problem. The third step is the revaluation and adoption of life experiences. The fourth step involves recognizing errors and repentance before God. The fifth one is the conscious preparation for change. The next step consists in the formation and development of humility before God. The seventh step deals with making a list of people who have been inflicted by evil, and the formation of preparedness to correct the negative behavior. The ninth step is the compensation for damages. The tenth step means a deepening of introspection. The eleventh step is a deepening of the relationship with God through prayers. The last step consists in helping other addicts and people in need. 

Another model of rehabilitation of drug addicts is the organization of in-patient rehabilitation centers, most of which are more or less adhere to the basic principle of the institution, the creation of a therapeutic environment. This model exists in the framework of different faiths. Therapeutic environment is a specially created well-structured environment that provides incentives that support non-narcotic behavior of patients, and ones that limit it. Rehabilitation program in such centers provides strict isolation from the media, meetings with friends, restriction of communication with relatives. Basic principles of living in a rehabilitation center are aimed at overcoming stereotypes that were formed under the influence of drugs. Both models are spiritually-oriented and see the Creator as a source of healing from addiction. 

Religious rehabilitation has shown positive results in recent decades. In particular, two of three studies, which investigated the influence of religious involvement on infractions within prison, found that offenders, who were actively involved with religion, had lower level of infractions (Connor, 1998). 

Despite the positive perception of religion and its role in rehabilitation of offenders, there is argument against it.It was suggested that religious instructions could not only cause criminals to repent the sins, but to encourage new crimes (Peters, 2013). As it was discovered, a number of offenders try to reconcile their faith and belief with predatory offending. They use creative and elaborate rationalizations and take advantage of religious doctrine in order to justify their actions. Moreover, many criminals exploit their understanding of religion to justify criminal behavior. Peters (2013) provides an example of a drug dealer who suggested that the Creator did not mind when bad things were done to bad people. This shows the flaws of religious rehabilitation and its negative impact on prisoners’ consciousness. 

Despite particular disadvantages, religious rehabilitation shows great success in offenders’ treatment, especially it deals with the rehabilitation of addicts. Particularly, the program of twelve steps can be called one of the most effective programs that were designed to recover from alcoholics and drug addiction. It was created in the US in 1930 and was adopted very quickly in other parts of the world. 

For many people, the unrecognized worth striving for spiritual dimensions is hidden under criminal behavior or addiction to drugs, alcohol, etc. The criminals characterize their actions and behavior as the outcomes of spiritual bankruptcy, emptiness. Religion can provide their recovery by means of spiritual revelation. Offenders as well as other people often report their need for searching the unknown spheres of life, the thirst for something new, a constant feeling of dissatisfaction.

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The difference between a righteous man and a criminal is that the first is pure in heart while the second is not. This contamination is similar to a disease, which manifests itself in the form of uncontrolled lust and greed in the heart of the criminal. Today, many people suffer from such a disease. As a result, crime becomes widespread. When people rise against these impurities, the latter will disappear. 

Therefore, there is a need to identify the causes of the accumulated differences and be able to prevent the commission of crimes with the help of religion. When religion has no weight in a society or has ceased to influence the society, all the worries about the morals of the citizens, all the problems associated with crime and intolerance fall on the shoulders of the state. Then, it is necessary to resort to the help of the police and the use of punishment. However, this is not successful, as morality, integrity and self-esteem are unlikely to be imposed by force. These qualities can appear only as a result of spiritual awareness and inculcation of the spiritual value. In order for a person to be moral and have other good qualities, there has to be more reason and more emotional motivation than the threat of worldly punishment. People should understand that each of them is a soul, not a material animal. Having realized their own religious nature, individuals can again come to an awareness of God. 


Rehabilitation of criminals has become a long-forgotten dream. More prisons are built in the modern world, and more severe laws are adopted in the hope that they will serve as a protection. Meanwhile, honest citizens are losing faith in justice. The rule of law in a fair system distinguishes enlightened democracies from totalitarian states. The question with regard to the rehabilitation of offenders and, in particular, state support for this category of people is one of the most painful in the society. There are particular types of rehabilitation treatments that are aimed at prevention of reoffending and helping former criminals to adapt in the new environment. Rehabilitation has positive influence on criminal behavior and provides an opportunity to change criminals’ future life. Offenders get a chance for social preservation, which further opens the opportunity for them to become a decent member of society. Moreover, the ordinary law-abiding citizens take benefit from the successful rehabilitation, since the risk of becoming a victim of rehabilitated ex-offender is significantly reduced.

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