chapter  3
The Rise of Rehabilitation
Pages 26

The determinate sentencing movement that emerged and then flourished over the course of the past decade-and-a-half represents a vigorous attack on the popular belief that rehabilita-

tion should be the primary if not exclusive aim of our criminal justice system. These advo-

cates of punitive justice have questioned both the viability of positivist thinking about crime and the wisdom of past reformers who held grand visions of transforming prisons

into hospitals where the criminally “sick” would be benevolently cured. In contrast, the

agenda of these critics calls for innovations that will effectively and severely constrain the unfettered discretion that court and correctional personnel have long exercised in the illu-

sory attempt to effect the “individualized treatment” of the lawless. Soon, they hope, we

will be rid of the indeterminate prison term and of parole boards that have labored futilely to distinguish which among the wayward have been saved and which remain chronically

criminogenic. As disenchantment with the rehabilitative ideal becomes complete, punishing

the criminal will replace treating the offender as the dominant purpose of the correctional process. No longer will we find anyone engaged in the well-intentioned but foolhardy

enterprise of trying to fashion sanctions that “fit the offender”; now punishment will “fit the crime”—nothing more, nothing less. In their view, a new and promising era of

American criminal justice policy will be upon us at last.