Defined Terms

Many aspects of prison environment are impediments to rehabilitation

Below is an extract of the section titled 'REHABILITATION' in SOCIETY’S RESPONSE TO THE VIOLENT OFFENDER - Australian Institute of Criminology - First published in 1989, subsequently updated that re-enforces that treatment of criminals is an exceedingly complex issue which ideally has to be tailored according to the plethora of factors that influenced the particular crime, particularly as "for well over a century, prisons have been referred to as 'schools of crime'".

"The basic prison setting is not conducive to the acquisition of social skills and to the learning of adaptive behaviour appropriate to resuming life as a responsible member of the general community. The experience of incarceration can be extremely stressful and humiliating, not the most ideal setting for developing self-esteem. In the custodial setting, violent offenders are exposed to few appropriate role models. Indeed, for well over a century, prisons have been referred to as 'schools of crime'.

With few exceptions, Australian correctional agencies do not provide specific programs for inmates convicted of crimes of violence. Nor do community welfare agencies. Many of the more general programs do address the needs of violent offenders, however.

Whether these programs are sufficient in quality and scope to meet the needs of all violent prisoners is a key question. To the extent that they are not, this probably reflects less on the competence and innovativeness of prison administrators than it does upon the political climate and the severe cost constraints under which they labour. Annual reports of Australian corrections departments are as likely to boast of reductions in the costs of meals for prisoners and of a decline in the number of escape incidents as they are to herald new programs for prisoner rehabilitation. Australian prisons have been criticised for insufficient vocational, educational, life skills training, and for inadequate drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs (Australian Law Reform Commission 1988, p. 26)."