Recidivism In Canada

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Until the mid-1970s, the main principle of the criminal justice policy in Canada had been rehabilitation of the offender (Klassen, 2016, para. 4). Offenders participated in rehabilitative programs, such as further education, psychological counseling, and work training to prepare them for their reintegration into society (Klassen, 2016, para. 4). In the mid-1970s, people began to question the effectiveness of rehabilitation, and there was a renewed interest in stricter ways of deterrence (Klassen, 2016, para. 4). Today, despite these prison reform efforts, there continues to be high rates of recidivism, being at 40.6% as of 2010 (Bonta et al, 2010, p. 16).
This systemic issue has caused Canadians to question why rates of recidivism continue
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Due to an increase in mandatory minimum sentencing policies, incarceration has become the sentence of choice for any conviction, with alternative programs not permitted or simply not existing (Renneboog, 2016, para. 7). Despite the popular usage of these methods, they are not effective at decreasing recidivism. This is demonstrated by two meta-analyses conducted in Canada, where 50 studies involving more than 300 000 offenders were analysed (Cook et al, 2011, p. 4). The studies showed that increased prison sentences, as well as placing the offender in prison rather than a community sanction, caused an increase in recidivism (Cook et al, 2011, p. 4). These results demonstrate the strong correlation between current reform methods and high recidivism rates, illustrating the ineffectiveness of this system. This is supported by Richard Renneboog, a psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario, who states, “the result of the ‘tough on crime’ attitude is a prison system not equipped to act as a place for rehabilitation, and is nothing more than human warehouses for incarcerated prisoners.” (Renneboog, 2016, para. 7). Also, alternatives to the “tough on crime” approach, such as rehabilitative programs that target criminogenic needs, have wielded more successful results. For instance, the population of inmates with learning disabilities is typically four times that of the general population (Renneboog, 2016, para. 11). As a result of a learning disability, offenders may have faced difficulties in school, been unaccepted by their peers, or unable to maintain employment; obstacles which were likely the cause of their incarceration (Renneboog, 2016, para. 11). However, offenders who received training in ways to cope with and accommodate their disability had a rate of recidivism 90% less than

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