As in nearly all things, America has been of two minds concerning rehabilitation of criminals. One camp believes more severe and lengthy punishment, less opportunity a criminal will have to re offend. Lock them up and throw away key. Statistics prove this camp wrong and alternatives are far from their concern. They are law and order people who have a strong appeal to a society that fearfully sees itself as victims.
The other camp wants to rehabilitate criminals but can seldom raise needed economic support to initiate and evaluate rehabilitation programs. These are folks who know that no life is beyond redemption or incapable of productive work.
Rehabilitation has failed so often because it rests on idea of stripping every right from a person, throwing them in a cage, isolating them from larger society and destroying any sense of personal identity or value. Treating people worse than animals is not conducive to self improvement. Rehabilitation must begin by not caging non violent offenders. House arrest, victim restitution, fines, counseling and work habilitation will prove much less expensive to society than caging and produce a better outcome.
Anti social behavior grows out of confusion and misidentification. That is, anti social people believe they are someone different than who they are at their core. They are books judged by their covers; judged by people only interested in covers. They come to believe and behave as though they are covers others have created for them. They are products of other people's expectations and imaginations as so many of us are. Unfortunately, expectations of many role models were low and easy to fulfill. Let society help victims of low expectations to distinguish between who they are and who they have been told they are. This explains their confusion to them and alleviates it. Clearing this confusion makes good candidates for rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation begins by helping an offender find their true identity. The tools trained counselors now have at their disposal for this identification process are readily available: aptitude and IQ tests; personality and character tests; astrological and numerological charts and reports; literacy tests. Poor readers are non readers and have a lifetime social handicap until they want to read well. Probations should continue until literacy is achieved. Once a person can read well and wants to do so, they can learn anything else they so choose. This opens a world of options previously denied.