Treatment & Punishment of Crime:

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P1: Imprisonment: (Behavioural Therapy)

  • The first type of treatments and punishments I’m going to discuss are behavioural therapies.
  • These include imprisonment, fines, probation and community service which are all aimed to punish criminals.
  • The main aims of behavioural therapies are: Retribution: paying for the offence by punishment and Deterrence: making potential offenders think twice because of the consequences.
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P2: Behavioural Theories Evidence:

  • Behavioural theories suggest that punishing offender by putting them in prisons should reduce criminal behaviour.
  • Bottomley and Pease (1986) stated that reconviction rate is around 60%, although this suggests that imprisonment isn’t effective as it’s not an effective deterrent for current offenders but it may deter potential offenders.
  • Farrington and Nutall (1980) found that re-offending levels were higher in overcrowded prisons than in pleasant ones (it might be this way because in overcrowded prisons, the money is stretched more and they cannot afford for every prisoner to have rehabilitation services).
  • Argued that imprisonment must be immediate as there is typically a long time between the offence, trial and them imprisonment – this association with crime and broken is broken if the timings are too far apart.
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P3: Zero Tolerance:

  • The aim of zero tolerance is to avoid the downward spiral of criminal behaviour, by tackling minor crimes to prevent the escalation of crime rates.
  • According to Kelling and Wilson (1982) a neighbourhood could degenerate if just one window was broken as it creates a social norm.
  • In the early 1990’s, in New York, designated hot spot areas were created where criminality was high and this focused police attention to those specific areas.
  • In 3 years, the crime rate dropped by 37%, although some critics believe that this method is a ‘Short-Term Fix, but a Long-Term Liability’.
  • Pollard (1998): Suggested that that hot spot creation was not the reason for the drop in crime rates, it could’ve been to do with the increased amount of officers (7,000).
  • It was also suggested that the theory was aggressive and only targeted low level crimes. Furthermore, once criminals realise the officers agendas they will just move on to another area.
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P4: Token Economies (Behaviour Modification):

  • Another way of tackling treatments and punishments is behaviour modification, for example token economies.
  • The only groups routinely put into rehabilitation programmes are sex offenders.
  • The recidivism rate in the UK currently is about 64%.
  • Behaviour Modification like token economies is when desirable behaviours like co-operation are reinforced using tokens and rewards. Negative reinforces are also involved like removing privileges.
  • Hobbs & Holt (1976) looked at token economies in 4 young delinquent institutions (3 groups, 1 control) and found that token economies significantly improved the targeted behaviours compared to the control.
  • This suggests that the system needs little training and can be done by paraprofessionals. It also suggests that you can achieve quickly manageable behaviours and they can be easily evaluated.
  • Although, token economies require a lot of commitment from staff and participants and they will only work if the inmates (in prisons) are motivated enough to collect tokens.

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P5: Cogntive Skills Programme (ETS & R&R):

  • According to psychologists, before a criminal act can occur, it must be proceeded by a criminal thought – therefore they need to change the way the criminal thinks.
  • Enhanced Thinking Skills - offenders on probation typically attend 2 hour ETS group work sessions - the skills learnt include 'learning to think before acting' etc.
  • Reasoning and Rehabilitation (R&R) - in groups, prisoners are taught group skills such as solving problems, creative thinking, values enhancement and crtiical reasoning.
  • A review of cognitive treatments in England and Wales found that male offenders in treatment groups re-offend less than controls (Hollin et al). Cogntive therapies were desgined purposely for male offenders, this creates gender bias within the therp. Also, the therapies only work on medium and high-risk offenders as low-risk offenders may commit a crime for another reason as they have lower IQ - These therapies don't take into account intelligence. 
  • Cann et al found that R&R was not effective but ETS was.


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