Four Principles Essay

Four Principles Essay.

Community corrections are “non-prison sanctions that are imposed on convicted adults or adjudicated juveniles either by a court instead of a prison sentence or by a parole board following release from prison.” (Joan Petersilia Para. 1) There are four general principles of effective intervention that have become organizing concepts of community corrections in what has become known as the “what works” movement. In this paragraph I will describe all four of the general principles of effective intervention, risk principle, criminogenic need principle, treatment principle, and fidelity principle, and the way they work.

The first of the four principles of effective intervention is risk principle. Risk principle tells us that intervention programs should use a mix of cognitive and behavioral strategies (Wright, 2012.) This is saying that the intervention should target high risk offenders, to prevent them from reoffending. Research has proved that targeting high risk offenders works more often then targeting low risk offenders. Certain offenses are considered low risk and others high.

That is what qualifies you as a low and high risk offender by what offense you committed the first time. Moreover, research also shows that targeting low-risk offenders with intensive treatment can actually increase their reoffending (Latessa, 2010). That is why within the four principles it does not target low right offenders. I agree with this system completely, we should pay more attention to the more serious offenders, because if they did a serious offense in the first place, they will do it again, and we must target these people to try and stop them.

According to Gendra and Paparozzi with Corrections Today, “When Robert Martinson predicted some 20 years ago that the new epoch in corrections would focus on punishment, many of us who were working in the system at that time did not realize how prescient he was. Today, the U.S. corrections system relies on the threat of punishment to bring about law-abiding behavior. Evidence of this can be seen in the proliferation of intensive supervision programs (ISPs), boot camps, shock incarceration and people’s prisons.” (Gendreau, P., & Paparozzi, M. A., 1995) I know that this intervention works because I have been to boot camp myself, and as they call it the “scare tactic” it really does work. When you do something incorrect or not to standards in the military they will scare soldiers with punishment, the reason it scares the soldiers is because they know that they will go through with the punishment because they have been punished before.

The second of the four principles of effective intervention is ciminogenic need principle. Criminogenic need principle posits that intervention programs must focus on change factors related to the offender’s antisocial conduct. Some of the important factors to target include antisocial values and attitudes, substance abuse, antisocial peers, dysfunctional families, and poor decision-making and problem-solving skills. “Unfortunately many intervention programs target factors that have little or nothing to do with an individual’s current criminal behavior.” (Wright, F 2012) When going up in a dysfunctional family, you learn that it is acceptable to be that way. When gang member have children , their children grow up thinking that what their parent is doing is acceptable, so when they get to the age that they can make their own decisions, they do what they grew up knowing, gang banging.

On the contrary an example I am going to bring up the incident that happened in Connecticut a couple days ago. The killer did not have a dysfunctional family, but the old babysitter had reported that when she would watch him his mother would say to never take her eye off of him, even when going to the bathroom which can form a theory that he had always acted up in odd ways. The third of the four principles of effective intervention is the treatment principle. The treatment principle tells us that intervention programs should use a mix of cognitive and behavioral strategies. As John Wright states, “Cognitive approaches confront the way offenders think, their criminal values and attitudes, and their decision making.

Behavioral approaches, by contrast, seek to model, reward, and reinforce prosocial behavior. Numerous studies show that cognitive-behavioral strategies work better than other intervention strategies for offenders, including nondirective talk therapy and psychoanalytic approaches. Nondirective approaches do not tend to work with most offenders because they are usually concrete in their thinking and not always able to think rationally.” (J. Wright, 2012)

When you are in prison, if you do not get into trouble they will send you to a work camp, which gives you more privileges than the average prisoner. When you get in trouble in prison, they will take away any little privileges that you do have, that would be an example of behavioral approaches. An example of a cognitive approach would be to have a criminal in therapy, with a physiological expert who would know how to pick the offenders brain to figure out the way they think then question them on the reason they think like that.

The fourth and last principle of effective intervention is the fidelity principle. The fidelity principle is in affect to make it so that the other three principles are being held to the standard. “Some individuals should never work with offenders. When they do they often reinforce criminal thinking patterns and antisocial behavior” (J. Wright 2012). The people that work with these offenders must be one hundred percent qualified, and well as have proven positive results of their work or else their job in this intervention is useless. The working will just cause the offenders to get worst. All the jobs within the intervention are important because if everyone is not doing their part within the program then the results from the program will not look effective.

These four principles have been proven to be effective and I believe that if we continue to use it, that we will avoid many offenders from have a second offense and keep the crime rate down within our country. In this essay you have learned all four of the principles effective in the community corrections, risk principle, crimongenic need principle, treatment principle, and fidelity principle, and the roles that they play within the intervention.

Beeler, A. (2007). What works in corrections: Reducing the criminal activities of offenders and delinquents. Corrections Compendium, 32(2), 36-36. Retrieved from Gendreau, P., & Paparozzi, M. A. (1995). Examining what works in community corrections. Corrections Today, 57(1), 28-28. Retrieved from Petersilia, J (November 2007) What Works In Community Corrections, The PEW

Center of the States. Retrieved by

Wright, J (2012) What Works In Changing Offenders? Retrieved from

Four Principles Essay

Pros and Cons of Prison Privatization Essay

Pros and Cons of Prison Privatization Essay.

Prisons are institutions that have specifically been designed to handle the members of the society who are under conviction of different crimes. The people who reside in the prisons are referred to as inmates or prisoners and the time they spend in the prisons depends on the imprisonment period. This period is dependent of the intensity of the crime committed. Once in the prisons, the inmates undergo rehabilitation, incapacitation, retribution and deterrence which are elements for considered appropriate for the provision of justice to the society.

In the past, it has been the responsibility of the government to manage these institutions on behalf of the society. The increased debate on the privatization of different institutions has seen a debate being launched in regard to the privatization of prisons.

This implies that the main purposes of these institutions to the society are shifting from not just maintenance of justice but also as a source of financial wealth. The new advancement is directed at allowing the straightening out of the contemporary faults that exist within the public prisons such as recidivism and overcrowding but there are some people who are opposed to this due to some possible negative results.

In short, the process of privatizing the prison industry has both negative and positive effects and this paper seeks to address some of the pros and cons of this exercise. Privatization though a new concept to be applied in prison department in most of the countries across the globe, there are a few countries who used it in the past.

For example during the mid 18th century, the United States government entered into a treaty with a number of private investors to manage a number of its institutions and these investors went ahead to contract inmates to some of their private enterprises as a source of labor. Some of the institutions that were contracted included ‘New York Auburn and Louisiana’ penal colonies. However, this did not last for long based on the fact that there was rampant corruption that was carried out as well as vicious resistance from other businesses who termed this as some kind of ‘unfair’ competition that was caused by these workers who were unpaid. Contemporary private prisons are however not the same as these because they operate on new models that are more promising.

The Pros on the Prison Privatization Industry

One of the major benefit that privatization of prisons would bring about is cost saving. The cost of crime depends upon relative increase in the rate of crime. The government in different countries spends billions of dollars every year on construction of prisons so as to be able to handle the increasing rates of crime. This is not the only cost based on the fact that guards to guard these inmates need to be recruited as well as other expenses that include; administration, food, health and education costs. It is argued by the majority of proponents of this idea that private companies can operate the prisons at a cost that is far much low than what the government uses and still maintain the quality services that are required. Some of the major reasons that these proponents give in regard the reduced cost are the elimination of bureaucracy, red tape, and the numerous laws that usually makes the costs of managing the prisons to rise in the case of public prisons.

Allowing the private sector to manage these institutions will imply that some of the costs that are involved in learning the jail will not be generated from the tax payer’s contribution directly and as a result the money may be diverted to other government projects. This will facilitate better utilization of the government’s funds to develop the areas that are in serious need of development. Due to the issue of competition privatization there will be increased productivity as well as reduced waste in terms of resources. Studies have revealed that the boarding cost in the private owned prison to reduce to half that of the government owned prisons. There have been other studies some institutions saved more than twenty percent of the cost incurred in terms of the construction expenses and management costs reducing by 5-15% Sloane, 1996). The cutting down on cost is something that has been criticized heavily by the lobby groups who think that this will lead to the deterioration of the conditions inside these prisons.

This is an economical plan that aims at giving back to the society as it serves to preserve justice to the community. According to the economic theory, the problem of financial support towards the running of the prison facilities would go down if there are more available, renting and selling prison cells, the challenges in terms of the funding and efficient allocation of prison space. Privatization of prisons is based on this factor of trying to exploit the opportunities by the introduction of factories adjacent to bars, cost reduction of the costs and give the prisoners the freedom to earn some pay as they give back to the society through the provision of labor. By this, they will be making peace with the society that they infringed some pain in the initial time through committing of crime. Though the public prisons try as much to carry out this exercise, this cannot be compared to the private sector that expresses this in a more profound manner.

One way of demonstrating this is what was demonstrated in the United States sometimes ago. There was a time when there were more than one hundred private firms that with more than two thousand prisoners in the manufacturing industry. These inmates used to manufacture goods with the range of bird feeders, circuit boards, and other related equipments and from the money that was earned through this method, about 56% of it was used to cater for the room and boarding facilities, restitution of the victim, and support of the family. The process also left the inmates with some acquired skills that they could use during their re-integration process that welcomed them back to the society.

Having some skills that they could use to earn a living put them in a better position in the society based on the fact that these people were liable of being treated by the community as ex-convicts that may rerun back into crime. It is also worth noting that the process of privatization may lead to some other new methods of criminal control other than the use of jail to detain people there by denying them freedom. One method can involve methods of detaining criminals within their dwelling by the use of new technology such as surveillance through small devices worn on the body such as bracelets or the electronic monitoring. It is however worth to note that such methods would cause some greater concern of the general public based on the fact that some would question whether the method would be effective in ensuring that crime is contained in the society.

In short the privatization of the prison industry would have a lot of benefits as mentioned in the points that have been stated above. The financial benefits, well being of the prisoner, security gains, and answerability among other factors might be used by the proposers of this system to ensure that the majority of the prisons are privatized so as to improve this important institution that ensures the execution of justice in a given country. The concept of privatization is indeed a very bright idea that has so many advantages though the issue needs to be put under more scrutiny to be able to get to the bottom of some of the positive features that have been mentioned in this paper.

This is a concept that has the potential of flourishing if given the attention it deserves to ensure that the social interests come before the urge to maximize profits by the corporations that have been contracted to set up the private institutions. It is also worth noting that each of the positive points that have been presented in favor of privatization, an equal amount of disproof as a means of counteract or frustrate this should be expected as it is the case for the public prisons. This is because in each debate regarding an issue that will touch on the welfare of the society there are those who are behind its implementation and there are those who solidly oppose such an issue; this is a good example of this kind of a topic.

The Cons on the Prison Privatization Industry

It is obvious that the main motive behind privatization is the profit. This is one of the major issues that can lead to a conflict of interest. It should be noted that prisons not only serve to separate the criminal from the rest of the society and give them punishment, it is also the duty and responsibility of the people in charge of the prisons to ensure that the criminals go through a rehabilitation process to ensure that that the recidivism rate is highly reduced based on the fact that it is very risky to relapse to the earlier behavior. Though the private prisons are cheaper than the public, they are not as efficient based on the fact that obtaining profits through the management of a prison would mean that rehabilitation programs, medical care, food and the hiring costs will be reduced at the expense of the welfare of the inmates.

As a result, there high chances that the inmates will be underfed, experience poor living conditions, lack the rehabilitation guidance and be supervised by inexperienced and unskillful officers. James Austin who was an analyst conducted a survey in regard to the welfare of the inmates in some of these prisons and the results he obtained spoke volume of the kind of experiences that the inmates had to cope up with. One of the discoveries he made was that there was 49% more assaults on inmates by staff and 65% more assaults by inmates in the private run facilities than in the facilities that were learn by the government. This is one of factor that indicates that these private prisons are not that efficient when it comes to their performance. Another report that was conducted in England indicated that that the privatized prisons had bad scores in terms of the security and management based on the fact that there was failure in containing drugs, severe assaults and intentional criminal activity in the prisons.

In addition, there are poor payments as well as working conditions in the private prisons as compared to the public prisons and this is the reason why there is high turnover in the public prisons as compared to the private prisons. It is also worth noting that privatization brings about lack of transparency in the prisons department. Public prisons have high degrees of transparency as compared to the private prisons. Despite having low transparency, the private prisons are also hard to legalize, scrutinize and bleaching of the contractual agreements are common and hard to detect and resolve. In short, the public prisons can be scrutinized easily by the public unlike the private prisons where public scrutiny cannot be assured due to the operation contracts that are usually confidential causing a serious failure in terms of accountability. Finally, this issue that seems to contradict the traditions that have been used for a long time by different countries in regard to the state responsibility.

There are functions that have been known for a long time to belong to the government and not to private developers since they are considered to belong to the class of the state responsibility to its citizens and one of this is the national defense. This is one thing that goes hand in hand with the protection of the public against crime and one of the major methods of doing this is the prison department and as a result, this department should be managed by the government of the particular country. Furthermore the act of administering punishment needs to be delivered by a body with high authority for it to be effective and this can only be the government towards is citizens who have indulged into criminal activities.

As a result the ruthlessness of the punishment impacted by imprisonment or the denial of freedom needs to be executed by the government which is the sole representative of the society and not some individuals from the private sector. Privatization has also received some critics in regard the issue of ‘low-balling’. This is a system or a trick that played by contractors on the government. They under bid their fellow competitors with the aim of winning the tender and once they have won the tender, the costs are increased to very outrageous figures. The worst thing is that the competitors stand a chance of learning into bankruptcy, a situation that can leave the government in a positional that does not have any correctional capability.

If this is introduced in the prison sector, this would mean that such an important section of the ensuring justice in the country would have some technical hitches and provision of poor facilities, a thing that would make this body loose its purpose. Despite the system having some advantages, there are a good number of disadvantages that may hinder the process of privatization in a given country. Some of the arguments presented by a section of scholars may not hold water but there are some arguments against privatization that should really be put into consideration for the sake of the welfare of the citizens who should be the first priority of any government (Sloane, 1996).

Morality is a very important virtue and based on the fact that there are some aspects of privatization that undermine this value, it is a matter that needs to be deliberated deeply. It is also questionable as to whether the issue of morality and the society peer responsibility as well as the ultimate should be left to the hands of people whose major motive is to maximize profits and search of financial gains. This is an issue that makes the society to appear as if it is no longer guided by morals but rather by greed for money and opportunistic advocacy.

Pros and Cons of Prison Privatization Essay

A Comparison between Jails and Prisons Essay

A Comparison between Jails and Prisons Essay.


This paper will demonstrate the comparison between jails and prisons. A description of jail’s and how corrections played a role will be explained, in addition to the history of jails and prison. Also a summary of the state and federal prison history will explained, as well as the comparisons of the similarities between security level jails, state prisons, and federal prisons. Finally, an explanation of factors influencing growth in jails, state prisons, and federal prisons will be discussed.

“Jails are locally operated correctional facilities that confine people before or after adjudication” (Seiter, 2011).

From a correctional stand point, jails serve a range of functions and possess a variety of categories which includes: individuals pending arraignment, awaiting trial, conviction, or sentencing: mentally ill people who are pending their movement to a suitable mental health facility: inmates pending transfer to federal, state, or criminal justice authorities: inmates who are sentenced no longer than one year: probation, parole, and bail bond violators, and juveniles who are pending transfer to juvenile authorities.

These categories make the operation of current jails very complicated and require systems, staff, and facilities that are amenable to accommodate those innumerable demands. They have several diverse terms that are used to label facilities that handle these specific functions such as: correctional centers, house of corrections, and detention facilities.

During historic times there has been a substantial difference between federal and state prison systems. State crimes consisted of murder, assault, robbery, theft, and burglary. Federal crimes consisted of white collar crimes, fraud, or treason. Over the past decades Congress federalized crimes such as bank robbery, kidnapping the distribution of drugs, and murder of public officials. As a result of this, there is less discrepancy between the types of inmates in state and federal prisons than in the past.

In the late 1800’s, offenders were housed in state prisons if their sentence was for more than one year. After the U.S. Department of Justice was established in 1870, a select official was responsible for the “care and custody” of all federal prisoners. Although, state prisons became overcrowded, the states became indisposed to house federal offenders and insisted the Department of Justice to establish facilities to maintain federal inmates. This led to Congress passing the Three Penitentiary Act.

This act authorized the production of three penitentiaries to house federal offenders. “These three prisons served the needs of the federal government and housed almost all federal inmates for several decades (Seiter, 2011). The three penitentiaries became crowded therefore; in 1925 Congress authorized the creation of a reformatory for males between the ages of seventeen and thirty. Two years later a federal prison for women was established in 1927.

Today the federal prison system is a nationwide system of prisons and detention facilities for incarceration of inmates who are sentenced for federal crimes and for the detention of the offenders awaiting trial or sentencing in federal court. Federal prison camps are established to be minimum-security institutions. These institutions have dormitory housing, low number in staff, and limited or no perimeter fencing. Federal correctional institutions are considered low security prisons. These institutions are double fenced, mostly dormitory housing, and a higher staff ratio than minimum security facilities.

Most adult prisoners who are serving more than one year are housed in facilities that are run by the state. “As of June 30, 2008, the states operated almost one thousand two hundred fifty prisons are holding approximately 1.41 million inmates (Seiter, 2011). Each state adopts its own penal code that specifies what acts are considered felonies, what extent of sentences is available for each category of crime, and what type if sentencing configuration it will have.

The state prison system security level classifications are similar to the federal prison system. One key difference is that many states have central reception centers, which all inmates are placed until classified. When the inmates arrive at the reception center they receive a security classification to clarify which prison they will be assigned. The ideal purpose of security classification is to counterpart offenders to institutions that have the physical security and staff resources to avoid escape and control their behavior.

Over the past years, the prison population has grown due to an increase in violence and other major crimes. For instance, Louisiana has had over fifty killings this year compared the forty killings that took place for the entire last year. Louisiana’s prison population is crowded and overcrowded at some institutions. “At mid-year 2002, the population of the nation’s prisons and jails for the first time reached two million” (Seiter, 2011). The growth of prison incarceration continues to grow every twenty years. Over the years, jurisdiction has tried to come up with a solution to solve its jail crowding problem. They thought building new facilities would be the answer to their problems but they were wrong. Many factors influenced that decision including politics and budget challenges.

In conclusion, jails and prisons are similar. Prisons are more populated than jails. The reader should understand the difference between federal and state prisons and local jails. Also the history of how federal and state prisons were explained to let the reader know how and where the prisons derived from and how they evolved into what they are today.

Works Cited
Seiter, R. P. (2011). Corrections: An Introduction (3rd ed.). : Prentice Hall.

A Comparison between Jails and Prisons Essay

Bureau of Correction Essay

Bureau of Correction Essay.

Corrections in the Philippines started during pre-colonial times when the task was community-based. It was only during the Spanish regime that an organized corrective service was made operational. The main penitentiary was the Old Bilibid Prison at Oroquieta Street in Manila which was established in 1847. It was formally opened on April 10, 1986 by a Royal Decree. About four years later, on August 21, 1870, the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City was established to confine Muslim rebels and recalcitrant political prisoners opposed to the Spanish rule.

The facility which faced the Jolo Sea had Spanish-inspired dormitories and was originally set on a 1,414-hectare sprawling estate. When the Americans took over in the 1900s, the Bureau of Prisons was created under the Reorganization Act of 1905 (Act No. 1407 dated November 1, 1905) as an agency under the Department of Commerce and Police.

It also paved the way for the re-establishment of San Ramon Prison in 1907, which was destroyed in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. It placed under the auspices of the Bureau of Prisons and started receiving prisoners from Mindanao.

Before the reconstruction of San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm, the Americans established in 1904 the Luhit Penal settlement (now Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm) on a vast reservation of 28,072 hectares. It would reach a total land area of 40,000 hectares in the late 1950s. It was located on the western most part of the archipelago far from the main town to confine incorrigibles with the hope of rehabilitation. The area was expanded to 41,007 hectares by virtue of Executive Order No. 67 issued by Governor Newton Gilbert on October 15, 1912. Other penal colonies were established during the American regime. On November 27, 1929, the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City was created under Act No. 3579 while the Davao Penal colony in Southern Mindanao was opened on January 21, 1932 under Act No. 3732.

The CIW was founded to provide separate facilities for women offenders. To date, there are two Correctional Institutions for Women, the one mentioned in Mandaluyong and the other one is located in Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Dujali, Davao Del Norte. Owing to the increasing number of committals to the old Bilibid Prison in Manila, the New Bilibid Prison was established in 1935 in the southern suburb of Muntinlupa City. The old prison was transformed into a receiving center and a storage facility for farm produce from the colonies. It was later abandoned and is now under the jurisdiction of the Public Estates Authority. After the American regime, two more penal institutions were established.

These were the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro under proclamation No. 72 issued on September 26, 1954 and Leyte Regional Prison under proclamation No. 1101 issued on January 16, 1973. The Bureau of Prisons was renamed Bureau of Corrections under the New Administrative Code of 1987 and Presidential Proclamation No. 495 issued on November 22, 1987. It is one of the attached agencies of the Department of Justice. The Bureau of Corrections presently has seven satellite prisons, namely; the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro, the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte, the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City and the Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Dujali, Panabo, Davao Del Norte.

Of these prison satellites, the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City as the Central Office serves as the main penitentiary as the Central office is also located in there. As of August 2012, the total population of prisoners confined in all satellites of the BuCor is 20,000. It is at this juncture, that handling, managing and taking care of the records of these inmates are of complex types of work which have to be performed by the competent personnel assigned at the “Inmate Document and Processing Division.”

Bureau of Correction Essay

Research Ethics Stanford Prison Experiment Summary Essay

Research Ethics Stanford Prison Experiment Summary Essay.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) was conducted in 1971 at Stanford University in the basement of the psychology building. Philip Zimbardo as lead researcher headed the research team to study the impact of situational variables on human behaviour. Zimbardo and his team advertised for volunteers to a social experiment offering $15 in payment per day. Wanting to examine the “dark side” of human nature, applicants were required to have no criminal record, no psychological issues and no major medical conditions.

Each of the 70 applicants were psychologically tested and the 24 most “normal” were selected to take part in the SPE.

The 24 selected participants were then divided into two groups randomly, with one half being prisoners and the other half being guards. The guards were taken to the mock prison before the prisoners arrived to help in the final stages of the prison’s construction and to help select their military style uniforms, this was to give the guards a sense of ownership over the prison environment.

Alternatively the prisoners were surprised with real police and authentic processing before being incarcerated into the prison. Despite it being an artificially created environment the guards and prisoners quickly altered their behaviour in response to the situational variables of the experiment. Prisoners were dehumanized and their individuality stripped away, while the guards became increasingly more sadistic and degrading towards the prisoners. After the guards crushed an early attempted rebellion by the prisoners, one prisoner was released for acting irrationally to a point that seemed pathological.

After this some of the prisoners became super-conformist, following rules to the letter. While other prisoners began to act crazy in an effort to passively escape like the first released prisoner. The guards fell into three categories with some acting sadistically and degrading towards the prisoners, others going completely by the book and some guards acting kindly and doing small favours for the prisoners. None of guards ever intervened or questioned the actions of other guards however no matter what kind of guard they were.

The experiment was terminated early after just six days when an outsider, a recent PhD graduate came in from the outside and saw how out of control the experiment had become. Ethical issues that arose during the SPE were the harm done to the participants. Guards were allowed to inflict real pain and humiliation on the prisoners over an extended period of time. The experiment was allowed to continue for longer than it should have because the participants and observers fell too deeply into their roles. There was also little or no regard for the participants’ confidentiality during the SPE.

Research Ethics Stanford Prison Experiment Summary Essay

Miller v. Alabama (2012) Supreme Court Case Essay

Miller v. Alabama (2012) Supreme Court Case Essay.


The Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of mandatory life sentences without parole enforced upon persons aged fourteen and younger found guilty of homicide. The court declared unconstitutional a compulsory sentence of life without parole for children. The states have been barred from routinely imposing sentences based on the crime committed. There is a requirement for individual consideration of the child life circumstance or the defendant status as a child. The court rejected the definite ban on life sentences without parole.

This is because in some cases the instances may be uncommon, but jurors can find irreparably corrupted children. The Supreme Court declined to decide the subject whether there is age below which children with life sentences without parole is unconstitutional.

Background of the case

The judgment of the court is mainly based on consolidation of two cases. In Jackson vs. Hobbs, Jackson was at the age of fourteen when he and other two youth went to a store in Arkansas planning to steal from it.

In this case, Jackson got charged as an adult and given a life term with no parole. In Miller v. Alabama, Miller was a fourteen year of age. Jackson and another boy set fire to a trailer where they had purchased drugs. Miller was convicted of murder and given a mandatory life sentence with no parole.

The decision was reversed by the Supreme Court. The review of the above cases was approved by the Supreme Court presenting the subject of constitutionality of a life sentence without parole for fourteen year olds who committed murder crimes. The two cases follow two previous cases before the Supreme Court. In the case of Roper v. Simmons, it was held that imposition of death penalty on defendants below the age of eighteen violated the eighth amendment. In the case of Graham v Florida, it was held sentencing defendants below the age of eighteen to life without parole violated the eighth amendment. It was held juveniles are less liable in light of changeability, vulnerability and immaturity.

Facts of the case

In each of the cases above, a fourteen year old was found guilty of murder and sentenced to a mandatory life imprisonment with no parole. In the case of Jackson, the petitioner had accompanied two other boys went to a video store to commit robbery. Jackson learned that one of the boys was having a shot gun. He was on the lookout, once he entered the store one of the boys shot the store clerk. Therefore, Jackson was charged by Arkansas as an adult with aggravated robbery and capital felony murder. He was convicted by the jury of both crimes.

A statutory sentence of life imprisonment was issued by the court with no parole. Jackson argued life imprisonment without parole for a fourteen year old violated the eighth amendment. In Miller case, after an evening of drug use and drinking the petitioner and a friend beat Millers neighbor and set fire to his trailer. The neighbor died in the process. At first, Miller was charged as a juvenile. The case was removed and moved to an adult court where he was charged with murder in course of arson. Miller was found guilty by the jury and a statutory life sentence without parole was imposed. The court of criminal appeal of Alabama stated that Millers sentence was not harsh compared to his crime. The mandatory nature was allowed under the eighth amendment.


The Supreme Court held that the eighth amendment outlaw sentencing system that direct life imprisonment with no parole for juvenile murder offender. The eighth amendment prohibits unusual and cruel punishment and provides assurance of individual right not to be put under extreme sanctions. In Roper v. Simons, it was established that the right stems from perception of justice, therefore punishment should be proportionate to the offence and the offender. There were two precedents that reflected on fair punishment.

There was one that adopted definite ban on sentencing system based on differences in severity of penalty and culpability of the offenders. That is why in Roper v. Simons, capital punishment for children was prohibited by the eighth amendment. In Graham v. Florida the eighth amendment also prohibited life sentence without parole for juvenile found guilty of non-homicide cases. This case further associated life sentence without parole for juvenile to death sentence. This suggested the second line of precedent that the court requires sentencing system to consider the details of the offence and characteristics of the defendant before sentencing him or her to death.

The two line of precedents guide the court to conclude that life sentence without parole for juveniles in fringeon theeighthamendment. The court decision was influenced by Graham and Roper cases that established for sentencing reasons children are different from adults under the constitution. Children lack maturity and have no developed sense of responsibility. This leads them to be impulsive and reckless. In Roper it was held children are exposed to outside pressure and negative influences from friends. Therefore, they have less control of their environment because the child’s nature is not2 well informed. Graham and Roper emphasized distinguishing traits of children weakening justification for inflicting harsh sentences to juveniles even when they commit outrageous crimes.

The court held in 5-4 majority that the eighth amendment forbids unusual and cruel punishment. Justice Kagan reversed Alabama and Arkansas Supreme court decisions. It was held under the constitutionally children are different from adults when it comes to sentencing. Justice Breyer had a concurring opinion arguing there is need for further determination if the offender intended to kill or killed the victim during the robbery. Justice Sotomayor supported the argument. However, Justice Roberts had a dissenting opinion. He argued that the court duty is to apply the law accordingly and not answer questions of social policy and morality. He argued the majority did not prove the punishment to be unusual. In his opinion, he did not find the punishment infringing on the eighth amendment. The dissent was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel A, and Clarence Thomas.

My Opinion of the Case

I personally think the ruling by the Supreme Court on Miller v. Alabama is a welcome decision. I concur with Justice Kagan that mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile is like a sentence children to die in prison. Mandatory life sentence also infringes on the eighth amendment. It is true youths lack maturity and have no sense of responsibility. They are exposed to outside pressure and negative influences from friends and therefore their reasoning is not the same as adults. In wake of my support for Miller v. Alabama decision, I am sensitive to family victims who want retribution. However, I must reiterate that sentencing juveniles for life is not the way3 to go. There is need to think about this juveniles who have been given life without parole as our children.

They need to be given an opportunity to come out and prove themselves as better people in society. Friend and families of victims would ask me why they deserve a second chance. It is true they may be mourning but no matter how painful the mourning can be, that cannot change the reality that children are different from adults in society. Children have a great potential for growth, understanding and change. Our sentencing system should not be characterized with vengeance. There may be a need recognize the potential for change. The opportunity should be given to juveniles to experience joy, life, and find meaning. The ban on mandatory life sentence without parole will ensure juveniles become educated, be creative and impact on the society positively.

Miller v. Alabama (2012) Supreme Court Case Essay

Pro Capital Punishment Essay

Pro Capital Punishment Essay.

According to my research there are some people who believe the death penalty is right just because it is safer to end one condemned life than to risk the lives of other innocent people. The death penalty is most commonly legal only for the most extreme cases, such as premeditated murder. Even in the event of murder, out of the 15,000 committed each year, we are only now reaching the 1,000 execution mark after thirty years! This plainly shows that those who may be pro capital punishment still use it sparingly.

Also backing up the belief for using capital punishment are numerous stories of murderers who, after being released from prison, simply killed again. One such account reads, “In 1985, 13-year-old Karen Patterson was shot to death in her bed in North Charleston, S.C. Her killer was a neighbor who had already served 10 years of a life sentence for murdering his half-brother Charles in 1970. The murderer, Joe Atkins, cut the Pattersons’ phone lines, then entered bearing a machete, a sawed-off shotgun, and a pistol.

Karen’s parents were chased out of their home by Atkins.

Karen’s mom ran to the Atkins home nearby, where Joe then murdered his adopted father, Benjamin Atkins, 75, who had worked to persuade parole authorities to release Joe from the life sentence.” Other accounts show that a life sentence simply is not always enough to stop a person from repeating their crimes. “In 1965, Robert Massie murdered mother of two Mildred Weiss in San Gabriel, Calif., during a follow-home robbery. Hours before execution, a stay was issued so Massie could testify against his accomplice. Massie’s sentence was commuted to life when the Supreme Court halted executions in 1972. Receiving an undeserved second chance, Massie was paroled, but eight months later robbed and murdered businessman Boris Naumoff in San Francisco.” From a religious standpoint a religion that does endorse capital punishment under certain circumstances is Islam.

According to the Qu’ran in Al’ Ma’idah 5:33 “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make corruption (Fasad) in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be banished from the land; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement” This shows that they believe in the death penalty for those who simply cause corruption or bring disgrace upon Islam, especially if the perpetrator is a former Muslim. The other justification for the death penalty, according to Islam, is murder. “…If anyone kills a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all people. And if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all people” (Qur’an 5:32). This obviously states that murderers should undergo the same penalty as the crime they commited. My personal beliefs about capital punishment are fairly in the middle of the road.

On the one hand I do not believe it is sinful for criminals to be put to death, as the Bible clearly endorsed the idea in the Old Testament In Genesis 9:6 it says “ Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The New Testament of course contains more of the “grace” approach and therefore I tend to lean more that way. Although even in the New Testament the Bible states in Romans 13: 4 “ For he ( the police, judges, etc.) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Clearly this endorses capital punishment for evildoers. On the other hand, people in America are judged as guilty by a group of people who do their best but can hardly be 100% sure on their verdict. Human error may cause and no doubt has caused some innocent people to be condemned to death while some of the guilty roam free among us.

That makes me uneasy, and is very disturbing. But is that a legitimate reason to do away with the death penalty? That is a hard question to answer, but I believe the answer is no. I believe there are certain cases where capital punishment is absolutely necessary, but I have to say that I would not want to be the one who makes that decision. How do you judge which life is more valuable than another? The other question has to do with whether or not capital punishment is truly a deterrent to others from committing crimes. There are strong arguments on both sides of that question but it is hard to judge when because of the appeals process and other delays and red tape, only a small percentage of those sentenced ever get put to death. I refer back to the fact that only about 1000 people have been executed during the last 30 years when there have been nearly half a million murders in America! So the argument that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime carries no weight to me.

Therefore, it is still my personal belief that capital punishment should be used, with discretion, after a fair trial, and in certain cases, but I also believe that once the decision has been made, it should be executed with much greater speed. Death row shouldn’t be a mile long. I believe that once the judge has given the sentence, there should be a much faster process to the day of execution. I hate the thought of an innocent person being executed, but even worse are the hundreds of thousands of victims who are left without feeling that justice was done for their loved ones and the millions who are at risk because of the leniency of our justice system. My partner and I got along quite well. We had an easy time discussing our material and he was not difficult to deal with. He spent the time given researching, and kept in touch with me to review our presentations. When we met the next day, he was there at the time agreed upon and +wasn’t full of complaints, which I appreciate. Brandon is a good partner and I would work with him again.

Pro Capital Punishment Essay

Corrections Purpose and History Essay

Corrections Purpose and History Essay.

The history of punishment is a unique one, since the dawn of man human kind has punished one another. Man did not merely throw someone in a chamber and let them contemplate their crimes such as we do in today’s society; rather, during those early times, punishment was harsh and swift. Criminals were not drawn through the litigation processes; instead, they were found immediately guilty of a crime and brought forth to be punished in an open forum, serving to the masses as an example of the consequences of crime.

The early forms of punishment in Europe varied greatly but all forms were meant to inflict unimaginable pain upon the recipient, and it is from the European methods of imprisonment from which the U.S. drew inspiration. Punishment such as crucifixion, burning on pyres, guillotines, and gauntlets are but a few examples of what methods were utilized as early methods of punishment in early Europe. This illustrates the underlying ideology that punishment should be administered with two principles in mind, deterrence and retribution.

Purpose and History

Methods of imprisonment introduced near the turn of the eighteenth century England inspired and revolutionized the way we punish and house inmates. In England during the fifteenth and sixteenth century’s corporal punishment reined supreme. Public beatings were carried out in the streets with whips; beheadings and torture were the norm for serious crimes; and enslavement was common for petty offenders. During the seventeenth century in England and other European countries, imprisonment for lesser offenses started to occur but conditions were less than desirable or humane. These facilities were overcrowded, unsanitary, and, worst of all, gender/age neutral, which meant that male felons frequently took liberties with incarcerated women and children (“Incarcerated: The History of the Penitentiary from 1776-Present”, 1997). The American Colonies quickly embraced the idea of imprisonment, because of the religious freedoms English settlers sought when they colonized this nation.

The Quakers were a religious group that settled in the northeast United States and they developed new laws to govern punishment and incarcerations that focused on prolonged imprisonment to serve as retribution for crimes committed. The Quakers belief system focused on of morality, peace, non-violence, and humanity. As such they showed mercy on offenders by allowing them to shed their anti-social behaviors through long term incarceration and a penance of hard labor. It is from this that modern the concept of reformation was established. Since this form of incarceration gained popularity, it has held onto two core principles: that a criminal can make restitutions for his/her crimes and that a convict can be eventually reintegrated back into society. The new form of punishment provided an alternative to the implemented punishments of yesteryear.

Auburn versus Cherry Hill Pennsylvania System

This reformation of how society punished criminals served as the foundation for new and competing theories on incarceration and punishment. In America around the early 1800’s, two prison systems were the dominant models of confinement: the Pennsylvania and the Auburn State. The first model was the Pennsylvania model, which was first used at Cherry Hill prison. This model used solitary confinement as its primary tool: convicts were perpetually detained without interactions with other individuals or time outside of confinement. The idea was that solitary confinement would lead to inward reflection and religious motivation and result in a penitent convict. In fact the word penitentiary actually comes from the Pennsylvania model of perpetual confinement because it had religious implications. At first, particularly in Cherry Hill, a Bible would be left in the solitary confinement cells in the hopes it would help prisoners repent. The second model was the Auburn State prison system, which supported the labor penance model. It operated under the assumption that hard, physical labor could not only serve as restitution but as a means of helping a convicted criminal reintegrate into society fully reformed. Often, prisoners worked during the day in total silence and would be hosed down them at night.

A main criticism of the Auburn system was that prisoners were being used essentially as slave labor. Inmates were being farmed out to private business owners, who had contracts with the state, which in turn lined the pockets of the private businesses and cut costs for the state. As such, the Auburn model became the popular model, because states faced significantly less prison and prisoner care costs. Businesses paid a fee in order to use the prisoners and the prisoners acted as unpaid labor for the businesses. The state prisons pocketed the fees thus creating a revenue stream that could be used to support the prisons, rather than tapping into state funds, i.e. tax payer dollars (Colvin, 1997). Around the 1920’s to 1930’s many changes occurred due to the state of the economy and activists pressing the government for prison reform. One of the main changes occurred when Congress enacted the Hawes Cooper Act, which effectively stymied the sale of prison-made goods or the use of prison-labor by making such goods subject to state punitive laws.

This act was passed in no small part due to the jobs that were needed by good upstanding citizens—jobs that were being taken away during extremely tough financial times by cheap prison labor. Congress had the authority to pass such a law thanks to its power to control and tax interstate commerce. The Ashurst-Sumners Act was the final nail in the coffin by prohibiting transport companies from accepting prison-made products (McShane & Williams,1996). The changes that stemmed from the Depression helped shape the correctional system into the rehabilitation-oriented program we have today. Prisoners are now classified into the likelihood of rehabilitation and the type of crimes that were committed, and this determines what type of facility an offender is incarcerated. Since 1935, the government made it clear that prisons must separate prisoners on the basis of gender and age. Now, facilities specifically for juvenile offenders have been established and the handling procedures for younger offenders have been defined.

Furthermore, there are programs to rehabilitate all types of offenders whether their needs are as simple as talking to someone during counseling sessions or educational opportunities. In some ways this system has been detrimental to corrections as a whole because it arguably results in overcrowding and a more lenient attitude: if you commit a crime then you will only have to contend with years off your life rather than hard labor and making reparations for the crime (Seiter, 2011). Over-population has resulted in more money taken from the taxpayers because if there are more people in the correctional system, more facilities and care are needed. Crime levels have dissipated over the years but not dramatically enough to really prove that this system is the true solution to our problems.


Modern principles of rehabilitation and reform have brought about the institution of facilities to incarcerate convicted individuals; these structures are called penitentiaries, jails, and prisons. Current prisons are more aptly concerned with long-term detention rather than a temporary housing prior to punishment like it was used as in the past. Today’s Prisons are a shell of the former institutions. Inmates in facilities today would never allow themselves to be used for labor outside prison walls it would be considered cruel and unusual punishment. For now the correctional system work, but soon it could be on the verge of collapse and any moment the flood gates could burst and the concept of rehabilitation could come to an end.

Mcshane, M. D., & Williams, F. P. (1996). Encyclopedia of American Prisons (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis. INCARCERATED: THE HISTORY OF THE PENITENTIARY FROM 1776-
PRESENT. (1997). Retrieved from Colvin, M. (1997). Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs: Social Theory and the History of Punishment in Nineteenth Century America. : St. Martin’s Press. Seiter, R. (2011). Corrections an Introduction (3rd ed.). Upper saddle Hall, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Corrections Purpose and History Essay

Treatment and Rehabilitation of Serial Killers in Prison Essay

Treatment and Rehabilitation of Serial Killers in Prison Essay.


The morbid fascination the public holds for serial killers is a long running one. The bizarre and often gruesome nature of their crimes have often been attributed to be the work of mad men. This popular belief has led to rise of insanity as a criminal defense. There are also questions regarding the viability of rehabilitation and treatment of serial killers diagnosed with Anti-Social Personality Disorders such as psychopaths and sociopaths. Does being a psychopath automatically make a person a violent killer? Studies show that most killers who do use this defense often prove to be sane people with exceptional skills at manipulation and deception.

At the moment, there is no proven measure of the effectiveness of psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation for serial killers in prison.

Treatment and Rehabilitation of Serial Killers in Prison

Serial killers and the violence of the murders they commit have always been phenomena that have never failed to arouse both morbid curiosity and horror in people.

Too often the bizarre and exceptional violence included in their crimes have been judged to either be the work of a madman or the product of pure evil. These perceptions have become so popular that it is not extraordinary for serial killers to enter in a plea of insanity in their defense. What causes such “insanity” is a question that has long challenged psychiatrists and criminal psychologists alike. The question however is, are they really insane? Is there hope for correction and rehabilitation once they have been convicted?

The term “serial killer” was coined in the mid-70’s by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent Robert Ressler (Seltzer, 1993, p. 93). Before this, people who have killed several people were simply called “mass murderers.” Serial killers however, were looked at as different breed of murderers as they killed repeatedly to the point of addiction and usually picked their victims at random.

Killings are done in a “series,” hence the term “serial.” This series can often extend through many years with occasional periods of dormancy. The motives revolved around sex, financial gain, thrill seeking, fulfillment of a perceived “mission” or ideal, and the driving need to exercise power and control (Prins, 2005, p. 195).

In his book “Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon” (1990) Steven Egger states that most serial killers have a “desire to have power over his victims”(Egger, 1990,p.4). Victims are viewed as nothing and insignificant and are often unable to defend themselves due to their occupation (prostitutes), age (children and elderly women), gender (women and homosexuals) and social status (migrant workers, homeless people).

For some time there was a very influential stereotype of a serial killer which described them typically as “white male in his thirties or forties a sexually motivated murderer who preyed on either men or women depending on his sexual orientation.” (Jenkins, 1994, p. 21) While this type of profile fitted Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy perfectly, the emergence of other serial killers that did not fit the profile soon dispelled this stereotype. (p.22)

It is not at all easy to detect serial killers according to Helen Morrison, author of the book “My Life Among The Serial Killers” (2004). These people often have above-average intelligence, are capable of maintaining relationships and even get married, and usually are community-oriented, getting involved with charity work and acting the genial, friendly neighbor (“Peering into the Minds of Serial Killers; REVIEW,” 2004, p. 58). They can also possess considerable charm that could be key in getting their victim’s defenses down.

Were they naturally born evil? Are they a case for psychiatrists? Or were they just influenced and turned into what they have become by circumstances they experienced in their lives? While research in genetics do reveal that “certain strands of DNA predispose individuals to alcoholism and other self-destructive behaviors, “(Guldmann, 2006) there is still a common belief that pre-disposition may be overruled by non-biological factors present in an individual’s environment such as education, moral orientation and free will. (Guldmann, 2006)

Most people believe that people capable of committing murder and other such heinous crimes must simply be “out of their minds.” While the exact nature of the mental impairment or illness is seldom asked, the viciousness and degree of bizarreness of the way murder was done were taken as evidence of the murderer’s “madness” (Egger, 1990, p. 73)

Psychology says that certain behavioral disorders may be caused by factors in an individual’s environment (Levy & Orlans, 2004). Maltreatment and neglect experienced in childhood, for instance, may lead to the formation of psychosocial problems such as aggression towards one’s self and others. Such experience may also affect a person’s ability to control emotions and subsequent actions. (Lowenthal, 1999)

Insanity as a defense in most serial killer cases is not uncommon, nor is it such a hard sell for most lay persons. After all, would any sane person consciously mutilate and kill their victims in the way serial killers do?

Psychology classifies serial killers under two categories: the psychopaths and the sociopaths. Both fall under the adult anti-social personality disorders (Giannangelo, 1996, p. 7). While these two terms are often interchanged, there are differences in the way people suffering from the aforementioned disorders deal with society and commit their crimes.

Antisocial personality disorders may be caused by a variety of factors. These include possible biological pre-dispositions, childhood trauma and abuse, neurological anomalies, and heredity. What is common among those suffering from anti-social disorders is that whatever the cause, there is a great feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt. (p. 8)

Psychopaths possess a combination of extreme narcissism and “extended chronic antisocial behavior.” Their personal histories often show abuse and maltreatment that affected and destroyed their sense of self. In killing, they get to exert their dominance over their victims and thus are able to create for themselves a sense of being. (p. 9) Sociopaths on the other hand, often exhibit extreme impulsiveness, lack of organization and irresponsibility. They are selfish social misfits and usually indifferent to social norms and rights of others. Like psychopaths, they are highly aggressive, remorseless and compulsive liars. They can often start relationships but have difficulty maintaining them. They exhibit behaviors that are in variance with those acceptable in general society. Frustration is something they cannot tolerate and the likelihood of their learning from punishment or experience is positively nil. (Simon, 1996, p. 26)

The killer dumped most of his victims who were mostly prostitutes and runaways who turned to working the streets for a living into the Washington state’s Green River hence the moniker. For almost twenty years, the special task force formed by the King County police focusing on solving the Green River murders labored under a mountain of information and leads received from an already panicked state.

Due to his notoriety and fears of being harmed by the other inmates, Ridgway is serving out his sentence at the Walla Walla Intensive Management Unit (IMU) (Sullivan, 2007) Since his incarceration, Ridgway has been described as a “typical psychopath” who murdered for the thrill and gratification he received from it. Ridgway confessed that the reason he picked mostly prostitutes as his victims was that he hated them and didn’t want to pay for sex. He also liked the idea that their absence would not be noticed right away therefore allowing him to pick up and kill as many as he wanted without getting caught (Bell).

There are some issues however with regard to whether or not he may be sentenced to the death penalty in other jurisdictions as some of the victims were possibly killed and buried in other areas outside of King County. There are also questions as to why a sane man who has committed 48 pre-meditated murders should be able to escape capital punishment through a plea bargain (Bell).

Famed true crime author Ann Rule who also wrote a book on the Green River murders entitled “Green River, Running Red” shares her horror at having been mentioned by Ridgway during police interrogations.  “I heard a popular Northwest true-crime author was going to write a book about me,” Ridgeway is quoted to have said. “I want to make the best impression possible.: (Rule, 2005, p.129)

“Son of Sam” David Berkowitz

The 1970’s was known to be the “summer of Sam.” Arrested and imprisoned for murdering six people and wounding several others, Berkowitz earned the moniker ‘Son of Sam” with his series of letters to Yonkers and New York Police that were signed “Son of Sam.”  Upon his arrest in 1977, Berkowitz politely and frankly admitted to the murders he was charged with even providing details that only the killer would know to the interrogating officer According to Berkowitz, it was a “demon dog” that chose and commanded him to kill his victims (Bardsley).

Robert Ressler, a veteran FBI investigator and key player in the Ted Bundy case, conducted an interview with Berkowitz in 1979. Openly telling Berkowitz that he did not buy the “demon dog” story for one bit, Ressler was able to get Berkowitz to admit that he came up with the “Son of Sam” and “demon dog” story as preparatory for an insanity defense.

He further told Ressler that “stalking women was a nightly adventure for him” and that he usually went back to the scenes of earlier murders he committed to re-live the experience. Ressler observed that Berkowitz found excitement and gratification in the “proofs” of his crimes such as police chalkmarks and the funerals held for his victims. Berkowitz also freely admitted that he used to hang around police stations and reveled in people talking about his crimes (Bardsley). Serving his time at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York, Berkowitz was initially considered a disciplinary problem until he professed conversion to Christianity and eventually became a “model prisoner.” He has managed to become a chaplain’s clerk and has become known for helping out fellow inmates. He has also completed a 2-year degree from the State University as well as the prison’s other rehabilitation programs.

Berkowitz had his first parole hearing in July 9, 2002. At this hearing, Berkowitz, then 49 years of age, frankly told the parole board that he had no idea as to why he committed his murders and believed that he did not deserve parole. To this day, Berkowitz has continually shown remorse and begs forgiveness from the families left behind by the people he murdered.

There are however some people who remain skeptical of the sincerity of Berkowitz’s conversion, author Court TV editor Marilyn Bardsley believes that Berkowitz’s rehabilitation and remorse are sincere. “Berkowitz is a long way from normal and always has been,” says Bardsley in her article in Court TV’s crime library featuring David Berkowitz. “It appears as though he understands this fact and is trying to do the best he can to straighten himself out. He has the rest of his life to work on it in prison, where, he realizes, that he definitely belongs,” she further says.

The “BTK Killer,” Dennis Rader

In August 18, 2005, 60-year old Dennis Rader of Park City, Kansas was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences (175 years) with no chance of parole for at least 40 years at the El Doraro Correctional Facility. Rader who was usually described as “the guy who wasn’t too noticeable” was the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) Serial Killer who terrorized Wichita between 1974 and 1991(“Inside the Mind of the Mind Hunter: An Interview with Legendary FBI Agent John Douglas Criminal Profiler John Douglas Will Share His Understanding of the Criminal Mind at September’s APA Conference,” 2007).

Rader was a man who relished his authority as a “code compliance officer.” He was known to meddle in other’s people’s affairs and imposed “codes” obsessively often peppering people with citations for the minutest reasons (Bardsley, Bell and Lohr). He was the type of serial killer who liked to dominate and “exercise power and control.” He shocked the world with his multiple murder of 4-members of the Otero family in 1974. This multiple murder was the start of his lust for blood that would lead him to kill 6 more people in the following years, often employing his modus operandi of binding, torturing and killing his victims (p.40).

Rader claims that it was the existence of demons within him that drove him to kill. He also claims that his arrest was long due and that he “played cat and mouse with the police until they finally figured it out.”(p.41) Former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary who was one of the profilers who completed a profile of the BTK murderer called the attention seeking ploys by BTK to be tools of power:  Frightening the public is like playing God. It’s a heady, intoxicating experience, so they’re not afraid to make contact with you (the media) or police — that’s all a part of the game for a guy like this. He’s outwitted law enforcement and everybody else all these years. (“BTK Returns”)

This hunger for attention was something that Rader himself proved during his sentencing where he cried copiously and gave a speech that alternated between criticizing the District Attorney’s office for their presentation of the case and attempting to make a show of remorse towards the victims’ families…an attempt that nobody believed and prompted a walkout from the surviving families seconds into Rader’s speech (Bardsley, Bell and Lohr).

Jeffrey Dahmer

By the early 90’s very few things could shock the people of America in terms of serial killers and crime…until Jeffrey Dahmer came along (Wilson& Wilson, 2005,p.118). Dahmer was not only a serial killer. His career as such started when he was 18 years old in 1968 and continued until his final arrest in 1991. By that time had already murdered 17 men and boys in addition to sexually assaulting others. In addition to committing murder, Dahmer was also a necrophile and cannibal. In fact at the time of his arrest, police were able to find severed heads, genitals and hands in Dahmer’s freezer along with plastic bags of human “meat” that Dahmer confessed he had been eating.

Relief was the best word to describe Dahmer’s demeanor during his cooperation with police. Some believe that Dahmer was glad that his killing career was over (p.119). Despite their relief however, Dahmer entered a plea of guilty but by reason of insanity at his July 13, 1992 trial. Dahmer’s defense team argued that the very bizarre natures alone of Dahmer’s crimes were proof enough of his insanity. The prosecution however countered that Dahmer had proven himself to be a very gifted “manipulator who knew exactly what he was doing” (Bardsley)

The jury rejected the plea and convicted Dahmer to 15 consecutive life terms totaling 957 years to be served at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Wisconsin. Here Dahmer was initially placed apart from the prison’s general population for his own safety. Later however, Dahmer was able to convince prison officials to allow him to eat and work with the other inmates. He was able to adjust well and even became one of the prison’s model prisoners until his death on November 28, 1994 after being attacked by delusional schizophrenic Christopher Scarver who was doing time for first-degree murder and believed he was the son of God (Wilson and Wilson, 2005, p132).

There were questions that arose following Dahmer’s death as to why he was paired up with two of the prison’s more dangerous inmates. Dahmer’s victims were mostly black youths. Jesse Anderson was a white man who killed his wife and tried to pin the murder on a black man. Christopher Scarver was a black schizophrenic. The explosive nature of the combination alone was very obvious according to some observers (Bardsley).

Bardsley cites some claims that Dahmer found God during the time of his life in prison. Minister Roy Ratcliff ministered to Dahmer and conducted a full-immersion baptism that was meant to be a re-affirmation of Dahmer’s faith. They are some however who believe that such claims were only publicity stunts in the part of Ratcliff. Some on the other hand, are of the opinion that Dahmer’s skills as a deceiver and manipulator obviously took Ratcliff in (p.22).

Arthur Shawcross, the “Genessee River Serial killer”

Arthur Shawcross was another serial killer who tried a “not guilty by reason of insanity” defense at his trial in November 1990. His defense cited “war time atrocities” that Shawcross allegedly witnessed in addition to alleged child abuse he suffered that gave rise to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Shawcross himself gave up many confessions where he detailed mutilating and eating body parts of his victims. These confessions found very little basis in the known facts held by police and were since dismissed as attempts to substantiate his insanity plea.

Attempts by his defense team to hire psychiatrists and neurologists to testify that Shawcross had a condition that impaired his judgment of right and wrong ended up in the experts testifying on the prosecution’s side. Shawcross was judged to be “sane and guilty” and was sentenced to ten counts of second-degree murder with “25 years to life on each of the 10 counts” or 250 years in prison before being eligible for a parole hearing to be served at the Sullivan Correction Facility in Fallsburg, New York.(Ramsland)

In interviews conducted with Shawcross in the years following his conviction, Shawcross just rehashed his stories of allegedly mutilating and eating body parts of his victims. Dorothy Lewis, one of the psychiatrists that figured in the trial believes that all these stories are just fabrications and had no actual basis in fact.

Are Treatment and Rehabilitation Possible for the Psychotic and Sociopathic Serial Killers?

In the case of brutal and gruesome murders, there always comes the question of whether the crime is caused by mental defects that require and can possibly be fixed by rehabilitation and treatment, or is it a case of pure evil that belongs either behind bars or in the grave. (Gondles, 1999, p. 6)
The M’Naghten Rules that offers the most influential legal definition for insanity in Europe and the United States define “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” (NGRI) as:
…a person as NGRI if he ‘does not know what he is doing is wrong’. This could mean: (1) he mistakenly thinks it is against the law, (2) he mistakenly thinks it is contrary to socially accepted morality, (3) he mistakenly thinks it is morally right, and (4) he fails to appreciate that it is contrary to the law or socially accepted morality (Reznek, 1997, p. 155).

Reznek (1997) also points out that insanity from the layperson/juror’s point of view is  very different from the legal sense. To the layman, if a suspect claims to be possessed by Satan or hears voices from the man on the moon, then that person is insane (p.24). Of the five cases discussed in this paper, there are three common themes: insanity, attention seeking and skill in manipulation and deception. Given the gruesome and strange nature of the crimes they have committed, it would be easy for jurors to quickly say “he’s crazy.”

Treatment and Rehabilitation of Serial Killers in Prison Essay

Psychiatrists, investigators and profilers questioned by the prosecution in each case pointed out however that all five have admitted or have proven the capacity to lay out plans for an insanity defense. They also adhere to the symptoms of psychopathy and sociopathy. Are their crimes brought about by mental illness?

Being diagnosed as either psychopathic or sociopathic by itself does not necessarily make one a murderer according to Lykken (1995). By definition, people with anti-social personality disorders are simply those who have failed to develop any mechanisms of conscience, guilt and other mental and emotional controls necessary to understand laws, punishment and reprimands (Lykken, 1995, p. 6).

People with these disorders can still function and even become good, aggressive leaders with their ruthlessness and lack of conscience. There are some however like serial killers, who go to extremes and become violent and murderous.  The American justice system is founded on the general idea that humankind is fundamentally rational and logical. There is the idea that punishment can deter crime and rehabilitate offenders (Reed, 1997, p. 2) But what if these offenders are claiming to have received their “kill” orders from demonic entities or mental disorders? Is there any possibility that their anti-social personality disorders be treated?

There are some people who believe that conversion and rehabilitation is indeed possible as evidenced by the change and new faith exhibited by Berkowitz and Dahmer. Dr. Jeffrey Abracen with Canada’s Correctional Service and the Toronto District Parole Office says that most psychologists may ably diagnose psychopathy in incarcerated inmates with the guide of diagnostic criteria listed in the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). He however cautions that while diagnosis is certainly possible, it would be very difficult to effectively ascertain and measure whether the treatment being administered to offenders is effective given the natural glib, charm and deception that comes natural to psychopaths. Abracen however stresses that treatment is certainly possible as long as there is teamwork and good rapport between the treating psychiatrist and the patient/offender (Evans 2005).

John Douglas, former head of the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit says that psychology in the case of psychopathic and sociopathic serial killers may only be helpful to a certain extent. Unlike Abracen, Douglas believes that full treatment and rehabilitation cannot be accomplished and measured effectively enough by psychology.  I’ve given presentations to mental health professionals, and some have told me that they do not want to look at crimes perpetrated by the offender, because–if they did–it may prejudice their evaluation.

Treatment and Rehabilitation of Serial Killers in Prison Essay

They would instead rely on self-reporting, which to me is worthless because rarely will offenders tell you the truth. They will test you to see whether you know their case. Once they know you have no clue, be ready to be shoveled a lot of manure. (“Inside the Mind of the Mind Hunter: An Interview with Legendary FBI Agent John Douglas Criminal Profiler John Douglas Will Share His Understanding of the Criminal Mind at September’s APA Conference,” 2007)

There are proposals that perhaps one way to stem the flow of criminal psychopaths is to start at childhood. All five serial killers discussed have shown disturbing signs of the disorder as may be evidenced by their personal histories and earlier arrest records. There is however the disturbing development of the budding child psychopathic killers such as nine year old Jeffrey Bailey Jr. who wanted to see someone drown and pushed his 3-year old friend into the deep end of a pool in Florida in 1986. Or the three first-graders who were caught deliberating whether to kill one of their hated classmates by shooting, stabbing or hanging in northwest Indiana in 2000 (Ramsland, p.1). The many definitions, labels and categories of all disorders linked to killers and violent offenders have become so overlapped that it has become difficult to identify which is which anymore (McCallum, 2001, p. 6)


The general description of all categories cited under the Anti-Social Personality disorder lists compulsive and remarkable lying capabilities, skillful manipulation, grandiosity, craving for attention and lack of remorse and empathy. Given this, how can anyone be sure that the treatment being given is effective? The researcher agrees that people must all have their chance at redemption. However, given the recidivist nature of serial killers offenses, the researcher is inclined to believe that serial killers are the exception to the rule. Abracen represents the group of psychiatrists and believers of rehabilitation and forgiveness that teamwork, professional guidance and the building of a relationship that the person being treated may learn to trust are the key things to treating and successfully rehabilitating psychopathic/sociopathic offenders.

However, FBI agent John Douglas makes a good point in citing how most psychologists/psychiatrists inhibit themselves from knowing the trial details and police reports of the offender’s crimes relying mostly on their interaction with the offender him/herself for their assessments. How then can they be sure that they are not being deceived and manipulated as well? It is well enough to think optimistically that practitioners in the field of psychology are well-trained to do their jobs.

Though the researcher agrees with this, the researcher maintains a reservation towards the efficacy of psychological treatment on psychopathic/sociopathic serial killers. Serial killers such as the ones enumerated in this paper have carried out their crimes and deceit over a long period of time. Dahmer was a habitual offender who consistently made a show of remorse for his previous crimes prior to his final arrest to the point of writing letters of apology and promises of “it will never happen again” to the presiding judge (Wilson and Wilson, 2005, p.127). There is a difference between just lying and compulsive lying. Their acting and manipulative skills are so good and these are just some of the reasons why the body count of their victims reached what they did.

With child psychopaths, the researcher believes that there may be a possibility of treatment as long as the disorders are caught early. On that area, perhaps early and rigorous rehabilitation may work. The challenge that the researcher foresees however, is whether it will be easy for any adult, least of all parents who have the most chance of observing behavioral kinks to come to terms with the possibility that a young child may be a budding psychopath.

On the adult serial killers as discussed in this paper however, unless there comes a true and proven treatment for violent and murderous tendencies among people with anti-social personality disorders, the researcher will have to agree with the words of Washington Times journalist Fred Reed who sums up his thoughts as “Sick puppies need permanent lock-up.” (Reed, 1997, p. 2)


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Treatment and Rehabilitation of Serial Killers in Prison Essay

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In the United States, prison overcrowding and budget cuts within the criminal justice system have lead to an increase in the need and the development of private prisons and jails. According to Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2010), “A private prison is a place in which individuals are physically confined by a third party that is contracted by a local, state, or federal government agency. Private prison companies typically enter into contractual agreements with local, state, or federal governments that commit prisoners and then pay a per diem or monthly rate for each prisoner confined in the facility” (Private Prisons, para.

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