Punishment Fails. Rehabilitation Works.

Punishment Fails. Rehabilitation Works.

December 18, 2012 | by James Gilligan | The New York Times

As part of the New York Times’ Room for Debate series, Professor James Gilligan discusses the failures of America’s prison system. If any other institutions in America were as unsuccessful in achieving their ostensible purpose as our prisons are, we would shut them down tomorrow. Two-thirds of prisoners reoffend within three years of leaving prison, often with a more serious and violent offense. More than 90 percent of prisoners return to the community within a few years (otherwise our prisons would be even more overcrowded than they already are).

As part of the New York Times’ Room for Debate series, Professor James Gilligan discusses the failures of America’s prison system. If any other institutions in America were as unsuccessful in achieving their ostensible purpose as our prisons are, we would shut them down tomorrow. Two-thirds of prisoners reoffend within three years of leaving prison, often with a more serious and violent offense. More than 90 percent of prisoners return to the community within a few years (otherwise our prisons would be even more overcrowded than they already are). According to Gilligan, this makes the treatment of prisoners while they are incarcerated of vital importance. He goes on to describe how we can change our prison system to make it both more effective and less expensive.