In today’s society, even children are committing some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, inclusive of physical attacks, oftentimes leading to murder.
There is absolutely no excuse for the commission of criminal activities, but there is great scope for redemption and rehabilitation of prisoners.
Most young people, who have been inculcated with a moral compass and consequently adhere to discipline will adjust accordingly, but there are some youths who have no guiding force or role model pointing them in the right direction. This group finds it preferable to pick up a weapon and try to extract quick riches from the unwary, even if they have to kill to obtain the spoils of their forays into criminality.
They, subsequently, most often become hardened criminals who have no compunction for their actions and often display no compassion for their victims, indiscriminately depriving them of their property, money, and lives without thinking of the devastation they wreak on the families, especially vulnerable dependents, such as elderly parents and children.
Having perfected the art of escape after the execution of their crimes, oftentimes when they are caught after a long career of theft and murder, they are treated as ‘first-time offenders’, figuratively rapped on the knuckles by bleeding hearts of some judicial officials and with minimum punishment.
Incarceration, especially with hard labour, is meant to act as a deterrent to engagement in criminal activities in civil societies, and this should ideally work concurrently with rehabilitation to reintegrate prisoners into families, communities, and the society at large. It is the general consensus that prisoners should be treated humanely. They were caught committing their crimes, while many criminals have been getting away without discovery.
During his tenure, retired Director of Prisons, Dale Erskine, created synergies to make the prison system more aligned to rehabilitation rather than punishment. He incorporated new programmes in the prison system to create a dynamic whereby prison was no longer somewhere merely to lock away people found guilty of aberrant behaviour, but where the inmates could be guided, directed, and encouraged to change their thinking and attitude into more positive, achievement-oriented directions. That change was a work in progress throughout Erskine’s tenure as initially Officer-in-Charge of the Georgetown Prison, and then Director of Prisons.
The changes wrought by the forward, humanistic thinking of Erskine were multi-faceted and transformational.
One of the programmes he set in motion was the identification and employment of a skilled bank of prisoners who were at least risk of escaping or engaging in additional criminal activities.
The prisoners were thus enabled to earn an income, part of which provided for his/her own needs; the needs of relatives, including young children left defenceless as their mothers struggle to take care of their prerequisites for survival. Some saved for their own upkeep upon their release, because the world knows that for a person with a prison record finding employment is a difficult feat.
However, there are those who are considered beyond human redemption, because they have become so hardened in their hearts that opportunities for atonement go begging. In these cases, protective services have to be vigilant that these persons are completely assured of their restored sense of right and wrong, and their intention to continue to adhere to the laws of the land.