Prioritize the rehabilitation of Offenders

by Muhammad Akhter-Mirpurkhas

There is a dire need for effective offender rehabilitation in prisons. As a criminologist, I have observed the consequences of neglecting this crucial aspect of criminal justice and its impact on public safety. The lack of emphasis on rehabilitation perpetuates a cycle of recidivism and does not address the underlying factors contributing to criminal behaviour.

It is well-established that effective offender rehabilitation programmes play a vital role in reducing the likelihood of reoffending. Developed countries, such as Norway and Sweden, have set international benchmarks in this regard, demonstrating the success of comprehensive rehabilitation efforts.

In these countries, rehabilitation is not viewed as a mere formality, but as an essential component of the justice system. By investing in education, vocational training and psycho-social support, these nations have significantly lowered their recidivism rates, and have improved outcomes for both offenders and society as a whole.

In contrast, Pakistani prisons often lack adequate resources for offender rehabilitation. The focus tends to be on punitive measures rather than the long-term reintegration of offenders into society. Such an approach fails to address the root causes of criminal behaviour, and perpetuates a system where individuals are more likely to return to a life of crime upon release.

It is essential that criminal justice system acknowledges the importance of rehabilitation and allocates resources accordingly. The implementation of evidence-based programmes, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), drug and alcohol treatment, and skills training, can contribute to successful rehabilitation outcomes. By addressing the underlying issues that contribute to criminal behaviour, society can benefit from a reduced burden on law enforcement, lower crime rates and, ultimately, safer communities.

Moreover, the concept of restorative justice should be integrated into the rehabilitation process. Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm caused by criminal behaviour often through dialogue between the offender and the victim.

This approach has generally proven to be effective in fostering accountability and empathy, leading to positive outcomes for both the individuals involved and the wider community. Implementing restorative justice practices can promote a more holistic approach to rehabilitation in prisons.

The policymakers, stakeholders and the public at large should recognise the urgency of prioritising offender rehabilitation within the criminal justice system. By learning from the successful models of developed countries and tailoring them to the local context, Pakistan can make strides in breaking the cycle of recidivism and promoting the reintegration of offenders into the communities as law-abiding citizens.

Acknowledgement: Published in Daily Dawn on Dec 30, 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.