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Letter to Prime minister on How Effective Is the Rehabilitation of Criminals Program

How Effective Is the Rehabilitation of Criminals Program

Dear his Excellency Stephen Harper,

The offender rehabilitation program in Canada whose aim is to teach offenders that they can change and live crime free lives in the community and some sway the youth away from  committing crimes, in my opinion, has shown significant success so far. In this letter will show how these programs have been successful and why they should be kept up.

Reasoning and rehabilitation

The reasoning and rehabilitation program was created to change the behaviors of offenders who have criminogenic risk factors. They teach the offenders: social skills, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills and values, assertiveness and negotiation skills (Kimberly, 2008). Joy tong and Farrington (2006) performed a meta-analysis evaluation of the rehabilitation and reasoning (R&R) program asking the following questions:

  • Does the R&R work better in one country than in another?
  • Does it work better in a community setting or in an institutional setting?
  • Does it reduce re-offending?
  • Does it work better on a voluntary or non-voluntary level?
  • What improvements can be made to the programme?

The findings from the meta-analysis on the four countries, Canada included, were positive. They concluded that the reconvictions were reduced by 14%, the program was effective on both community and institutional levels, and while R&R was created to treat high risk offenders it was found to also be effective on low risk offenders too, it also worked well with both voluntary and non-voluntary clients. The R&R is also cost effective because the low risk offenders too are treated hence will not cost the government in terms of jail facilities, hence the meta-analysis show that the R&R is effective, useful and cost effective.

Allen, Mackenzie and Hickman (2001) used the Maryland scale methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of R&R based on seven evaluations and they found out that despite the somewhat contradictory evidence, R%R is very effective in reducing recidivism.

Moral Re-conation Therapy

Created in 1972, it was specifically to provide drug treatment for inmates in a setting that was different from the prison facility. It started with 24 male offenders with felony or demeanor charges (little & Robinson, 2006). The name re-conation coming from the name conation meaning the conscious willingness characterizing personality aspects (Stephen swan 2006). Therefore re connation seeks to change an offender through conscious decision making; enhance a client’s conscious decision making awareness and increase moral reasoning.

In the first 2 years following the implementation of the new refined MRT program the success rate of completion grew from 30% to 50% and the recidivism from the treated offenders was 25-35% lower than in those who were not treated. It was also found out that the re- arrest rate after 2 years was 10% for the treated offenders and 15% for the non-treated offenders and those in the treatment group who chose to participate in the aftercare program the re-arrest rate was 4% a significant difference from the non-treated. The MRT program has a proven success record of reducing crime, rein-carcerations and re-arrests (little, 2000).

Cognitive restructuring

It is a psychotherapeutic process of identifying maladaptive and irrational thoughts (cognitive distortion) such as magical thinking, filtering and emotional reasoning. It involves four major steps:

  • Identification of problematic cognitive thoughts (negative thoughts about self, future and the world based on already existing beliefs.)
  • Identification of cognitive distortion in the automatic thoughts (ATs)
  • Creation of rational rebuttal of the ATs
  • Rational disputation of the ATs using the Socratic Method.

It is mostly used for people experiencing psychiatric disorders, ADHD, borderline personality disorders, gambling, anxiety disorders and drug abuse disorders. By showing the patient that others value him the therapist is able to expose the irrational line of though in the patient and introduce a new model of thought for the patient to change their previous behavior. There have many studies that have shown that CR is successful in treating insomnia and helping offenders reform. It has been shown to change the behavior of offenders because it is mostly used for rape convicts it has been shown to reduce repeat offence by up to 20% ( Harvey et al, 2002).

Dr. Mackenzie (2006) found that cognitive restructuring is more important and effective in reducing inappropriate sexual urges through modification of sexual preferences. Researchers have found out that the cognitive restructuring drastically reduced the measure of depressive symptoms, measure of fatigue and measure of anxiety(Rokx et el.,2011) by allowing patients to accept their thoughts as not bad or good and commit to being moral even when their thoughts are otherwise.


From the above findings it is clear that the offender rehabilitation program is a success and hence there is no need to cover all the programs involved in the rehabilitation process. Cognitive therapy is based on thoughts change; if you can change the mind of people you can reduce the crime and destructive rates. The offender  re habilitation programs have been found to maintain a positive locus of control, perceived family and friends support in addition to reducing recidivism, reported problems and instill moral reasoning. Therefore, I would advise continuation of the program. However, there is still some improvements that can be made to make the program even more efficient and effective.


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