Mistreatment of prisoners interferes with rehabilitation efforts and can exacerbate crime, a new Australia-US study finds.
The research by Flinders University and Rutgers University highlights how more incentives are needed for reform.
“How the public understands ‘criminality’ or wrongdoing has implications for attitude and endorsement of criminal justice policies, which are often at odds with what we know is needed for effective rehabilitation,” says Dr. Colleen Berryessa, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University.
The study notes that the U.S. leads in incarceration. Individuals entered jails more than 10 million times in 2020, according to the Feb. 14 Eurasia Review article. Australia incarcerated about 65,000 persons during that same year.
“Criminologist researchers warn that indifference to the fate of offenders, both among the public and people in the criminal justice system, could discourage a safe and gradual road to rehabilitation,” the article reports.
The story said offenders deal with large ranges of harms that are overlooked because the people working in the system and the community both have a deep-seated desire to see “bad” people suffer for what they did.
“The implication is that these types of hostile beliefs and attitudes stand in the way of efforts towards criminal justice reform,” said Dr. Melissa de Vel-Palumbo of Flinders University.
The article raises these questions: Does there need to be harsher punishment to keep people from committing crimes? Should the public turn a blind eye to the abuse and mistreatment because the people receiving the mistreatment are considered victimizers, predators, pedophiles, abusers, and rapists?
The study is titled When bad things happen to rotten people: indifference to incidental harms in the criminal justice system (2022), by Drs. Vel-Palumbo and Berryessa. It was published in Psychology, Crime and Law.