Penal Policy: Restorative Justice Over Punishment

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Penal Policy: Restorative Justice over Punishment
In the 1800s, the penal system in England with inhumane punishments was appalling. Activists sought to reform the system and create new forms of rehabilitation for prisoners, one of these forms being the treadmill. While prisoners were believed to not only be physically fit and contribute to society by crushing grains on the treadmill, it was obvious that this ‘rehabilitative’ method was rather a punishment. Inmates accumulated around 5,000 to 14,000 feet a day while working 6 or so hours on this torturous device. While the 1898 Prisoners Act banned this form of rehabilitation, it is apparent that most prisons today retain the ineffective mindset of inhumane prisoner justice with punishment
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First of all, every individual in society is entrusted by the government to obey the law and contribute to the community in a positive manner. However, incarcerated individuals have abused this trust by harming others and the community itself. Therefore, shouldn’t these individuals be further punished if they have committed crimes that made their victims suffer? Since it is believed that “human rights of prisoners are said to be ‘weak’ human rights,” then these law offenders could be punished by depriving them of their freedom with strict rules and even solitary confinement. In solitary confinement, prisoners may be punished by limiting human contact which have made prisoners “mentally even more ill” (Yamashita, “Human Rights of Prisoners”; Casey, “Solitary Confinement in the UK”). In the end however, further inhumane treatment would not affect changing morals in psychopaths for according to Dr. Bruce Gage, chief of psychiatry for the Washington Department of Corrections, they “tend to lack fear and have a ‘reduced response to punishment.’” Additionally, moral justice is not created if the penal system further damages the mental state of prisoners. For example, in the United Kingdom, one inmate claimed that there were “ten suicide attempts so far” in one prison, while another claimed…show more content…
While Halden’s prison focuses on restorative justice in the prison’s aesthetics and programs, Kenyan organisations, such as Kituo Cha Sheria, focus on changing morals by allowing prisoners contribute to society as paralegals. According to Catherine Fellows’s BBC.com article titled “Kenyan Prisoners Take the Law into Their Own Hands”, prisoners in Kenya such as Douglas Owiyo take law into their own responsibility by defending accused citizens in the court. Since 2007, these prisoner paralegals have partook in “more than 3,000 successful appeals, even though they are not fully qualified lawyers.” Not only would this opportunity allow prisoners to contribute to their community by being paralegals, but it would also change morals for these individuals are educated about their legal rights. With this knowledge, they can make better decisions regarding actions they take and also become more motivated, reliable lawyers once out of prison. Additionally, allowing prisoners opportunities to contribute while incarcerated gives prisons actual purpose other than depriving prisoners of human rights. Although historians believe that colonial governments established and left prisons congested and unsanitary because the prisoners were Africans, prisoner paralegal organizations exemplify that old views and justice in
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