Redeeming the Responsible
DOI link for Redeeming the Responsible
Redeeming the Responsible book
This chapter takes on issues in offender rehabilitation, called here offender redemption to emphasize the mutual responsibility of the redeemer (the state/public) and the redeemed (the offender). Questions addressed are: is personal change really possible for serious offenders? How can this change be assessed? Will society accept the return of persons who have in fact changed?
The discussion begins with the late 20th century turn away from rehabilitation in corrections policy and evidence of a modest reversal in recent years. Examples of personal change by the incarcerated are provided, leading to a discussion of how personal change occurs. The change process often begins with addressing deep-seated pain from the offender’s past life. The change process includes taking responsibility for past wrongdoing, a task made difficult by the need to reconcile the identity of the present (changed) person with the person who did wrong in the past.
The chapter looks at how penal institutions can create opportunities for offender change. These include programs built around shared storytelling, such as drug and alcohol recovery programs; also religious programs, education and vocational training. The resistance of some offenders to change and the need for cultural change among correctional officers is covered.
Parole and the reentry process are the subjects of the remainder of the chapter. Changes in parole laws and policies are covered. Serious questions remain about the public’s attitudes towards the return of prisoners. Finally, the chapter explores the surprising power of restorative justice dialogues between the hurt and those who have hurt them to further healing and change of destructive relationships. These dialogues can occur between offenders and victims, and also between family members of offenders and family members of victims.