By Matthew McClimon
Are people born or created to be evil in nature? Can a man who has commited crime and served time be rehabilitated or should he be singled out as a criminal without a chance. Criminals are a part of our society and deserve a choice to rehabilitate, seek psychological help, and pave their way to become a law abiding citizen.
In the U.S. prison system we have lacked in our performance when providing rehabilitative opportunities. “It’s not a very good time to be a prisoner in the United States,” (Benson) a writer for the American Psychological Association states. Prison is not meant for the convicted to have fun by any means but with a downfall in budget, punitive tendencies, and strict conviction guidelines it has made incarceration even more unpleasant. Seeking rehabilitation can be hard for the individual prisoner, but it is encouraged that prisoners find it themselves. Prisoners have a choice to make when it comes to preventing a crime upon release. The condition of the U.S. prison system makes this choice hard depending on where a prisoner is incarcerated.
The location of incarceration creates rehabilitative barriers because of the lack of mental health professionals in certain U.S. prisons. Psychologists play a pivotal role in the process of betterment. In everything from discovering what Maggie Drury, who earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology, calls environmental influences to just giving prisoners socialization. These people are needed in many prisons throughout the country as our current psychologists are beginning to be overwhelmed by the workload. At times, mental health is a necessity for health care. Psychologists are the helping hand for the willing prisoners who are ready to reform.
Convicts are the most pivotal in this process. They have to make the effort with a therapist, acknowledge their wrongdoings, and build a strong moral compass. Rehabilitation is a possible process and these men and women who are willing to dedicate themselves to the change deserve that chance. The most challenging part is self acknowledgement: a prisoner has to correct his past actions to create a better future.
In our area of Fillmore County we have a District Court and some other government buildings such as post offices, police/sheriff stations, and the Resource Recovery Center for recycling. Our county provides countless programs for many people in many situations. Although there may be less for rehabilitation specifically, there are still many provided. The programs range from mental health services to family decision making. Our county also provides cognitive behavioral programs specific to an individual situation. Fillmore County offers many different programs to adults, victims, and even juveniles.
A common argument against rehabilitation is that convicts made their choice and just because they can change doesn’t mean they deserve to. Yet just because you make a choice doesn’t mean you have to be defined by it. Judgments are made and regardless of that prisoners still have a much more important choice to make.
Prisoners should be given the opportunity and choice to rehabilitate. Convicts do this through help psychologically. Mental health professionals push them to discover why it is they turned to a life of crime. For the most part it lands in each individual’s hands whether they will choose to reform and reenter society as a law abiding citizen. Convicts are still human and sometimes there are things you can’t come back from, but what about those who are ready to change? Evil isn’t born, it is created and it is up to each of us to find the light or sink into darkness.
Matthew McClimon is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. He is one of 17 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 24th year.