Did you know that 4.9 million people are put into prison each year, and that one out of four of those people is arrested again that same year? I believe that rehabilitation is more ethical than incarceration because it helps inmates to better themselves so that they will not have the negative mindset to commit another crime. It also helps them still be able to spend time with their families and friends that need them. They will be able to contribute to their community and live normal lives like everyone else. To fix this, jails should encourage the use of rehab instead of locking people in a cell. Further, lawmakers should argue for this option and its benefits if they want to create a better future for our people.

The first reason rehabilitation is better than incarceration is that it can help people convicted of a crime with the challenges that led them to commit the crime in the first place, like addiction or behavioral issues. According to a research study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there have been 2.7 million violent crimes committed per year in which the victims in the situation were fully certain that the person committing the crime had been under the influence of alcohol. Another leading cause of violent crimes is rage and anger issues. The Psychology Today article “Fear-Based Anger Is the Primary Motive for Violence,” written by criminologist Dr. Scott Bonn, states that people suffering from severe hostility issues are linked with committing an assortment of incredibly violent acts. These crimes include but are not limited to homicide, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, aggravated assault, bullying, torture, and also even terrorism. To deal with these problems beforehand is to help prevent the mass majority of violent crimes, because it is best to start at the root of these problems to minimize the effects before they happen.

The second reason I believe that rehabilitation is better than incapacitation as a punishment is because incarceration is very expensive, and steering the person toward psychiatric help would be the cheaper route. The Department of Justice statistics reveal that just last year, the federal prison system requested a budget of $7.71 million to fund the costs of generally putting people in prison. Additionally, a more recent study from Interrogating Justice states that in 2022, most states pay around $25,000 to $35,000 per person that gets incarcerated. Rehabilitation in this situation would be better because the process of imprisonment is way too costly and rehabilitation would be the cheaper route for the government.

Some people may believe that punitive solutions are more effective in reducing the number of crimes because they discourage people from doing the crime when they don’t want to pay the price for it. However, this is not true, because punishments are a short-term solution and have little to no effect on making future decisions for oneself. Rehabilitation, however, puts them on a path that sets them up for success and only opens more room for self-improvement and self-development.

To conclude, rehabilitation is clearly more ethical than incarceration because it offers many new solutions that reshape the person mentally instead of locking them away without any type of guidance. A good solution for this problem is that jails should encourage the use of rehab instead of locking people in a cell for a period of time. Lawmakers should highly consider this option and its benefits if they want to create a better future for our people. We should want to help incarcerated people because it is the most humane thing to do. I say this because as humans we all make mistakes, and have different reasons why we make these mistakes that are sometimes out of our control.


Works Cited
Bonn, Scott. “Fear-Based Anger Is the Primary Motive for Violence.” Psychology Today, 17 July 2017,
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wicked-deeds/201707/fear-based-anger-is-the-primary-motive-violence. Accessed 10 October 2022.

Greenfeld, Lawrence A. “Bureau of Justice Statistics – Alcohol and Crime.” Bureau of Justice Statistics, https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/ac.pdf. Accessed 10 October 2022.

Stephens, Ronnie K. “Annual Prison Costs a Huge Part of State and Federal Budgets.” Interrogating Justice, 16 February 2021,
https://interrogatingjustice.org/prisons/annual-prison-costs-budgets/. Accessed 13 October 2022.

“Federal Prison System (BOP).” Department of Justice,
https://www.justice.gov/doj/page/file/1246666/download. Accessed 13 October 2022.

Written By:

Kamyrah Pulley

Grade 10

DC International PCS