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Correctional and Rehabilitation Concepts

Is the segregation of HIV-positive inmates ethical?

Are boot camp type facilities an effective correctional program?

Are conjugal and familial visitation effective rehabilitative concepts?

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Good questions! Let's look closer at each question. I also provided a supporting article at the end of this response, some of which this response was drawn. It expands on several of the issues.

1. Is the segregation of HIV-positive inmates is ethical?

It depends. If, for example, inmates who tested HIV-positive were segregated because the general population was planning to hurt or kill them, then it is the right thing to do for the safety of the inmate (ethical).

However, there are two main arguments posited in this debate.

The argument for the segregation of HIV-positive inmates maintains that testing and segregation are the safest and most beneficial options for resolving the issue of HIV and AIDS in State and Federal prisons. It reasons that prison inmates are much more likely to participate in risky behaviors than the general public. It is therefore in the best interest of the general population to test each inmate, segregate all HIV-positive inmates, and use the average of 2.5 to 3 years of time served to educate and counsel the inmates about their disease and how it affects them and the community. Currently, the Federal courts have remained supportive of prison officials' expertise in resolving issues related to communicable diseases (http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/Abstract.aspx?id=186413).

Conversely, the argument against the segregation of HIV-positive inmates is that it is not necessary to achieve the desired result, i.e., low seroconversion in prison. Rather, resources should be used to educate inmates regarding HIV disease and its modes of transmission, as well as provide inmates with the appropriate barrier protection, such as condoms and information on the cleaning of needles used in intravenous drug injection. This is considered to be a far more effective way of dealing with the spread of HIV than to resort to "cruel and demoralizing policies that isolate inmates simply because they carry a virus." (http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/Abstract.aspx?id=186413)

Which argument do you think is most ethical? Do you think it is ethical to segregate HIV-positive inmates?

Overall, segregation of HIV-positive inmates is really 'unethical' since it is punishing a group of people who have a virus, as suggested by the opponents who are against segregation of HIV-positive inmates (my opinion). However, "safe sex' methods e.g., condoms, etc. is questionable, as abstinence is the only sure method against the spread of the virus to other inmates. (my opinion) However, we need to protect human rights. Humane treatments of people are integral to prison life and reintegration into society. If the system follows a format of allowing the rehabilitation process to take place and place less emphasis on the dehumanization of inmates, society will be at an advantage for the future (from article in the extra reading section below). However, there are many control management variables linked to the safety of other inmates that also come into play.

How about those inmates who do not care about spreading the disease and rape other inmates? There are many different scenarios, and perhaps it should be decided on an individual basis. For example, an inmate who has raped another inmate before, segregation might be the best option. However, the person who contacted HIV through a blood transfusion does not pose a risk to the general population of inmates. See the article at the end of this response for various different scenarios to consider.

What do you think? Is segregation ethical?

2. Are boot camp type facilities an effective correctional program?

Juvenile boot camps are correctional programs for delinquent youth in a military-style environment. Generally, these programs emphasize discipline and physical conditioning. They were developed as a rigorous alternative to longer terms of confinement in juvenile correctional facilities. It is problematic because, not all of these programs are followed by a period of probation or some form of aftercare. Boot camps are generally restricted to non-violent or first-time offenders. Are boot camps effective? for the most part, no they are not effective. For example:

· Boot camps do not reduce recidivism. Numerous studies of adult and juvenile boot camps have shown that graduates do no better in terms of recidivism than offenders who were incarcerated or, in some cases, than those sentenced to regular probation supervision. In fact, some researchers have found that boot camp graduates are more likely to be re-arrested or are re-arrested more quickly than other offenders.

· Boot camps may not be cost effective. Although some boot camps enable jurisdictions to save money because youth serve shorter sentences, others have found that the extra costs of operating boot camps outweigh the benefits. For example, boot camps tend to be more labor intensive and more expensive to operate. If youth are sentenced to a boot camp when they could have been placed in probation or a community-based program, jurisdictions are actually losing money.

· Experts agree that a confrontational approach is not appropriate. Most correctional and military experts agree that a confrontational model, employing tactics of intimidation and humiliation, is counterproductive for most youth in the juvenile justice system. The use of this kind of model has led to disturbing incidents of abuse. For youth of color (who represent the vast majority of the juveniles sentenced to boot camps)-as well as for youth with emotional, behavioral, or learning problems-degrading tactics may be particularly inappropriate and potentially damaging. The bullying style and aggressive interactions that characterize the boot camp environment fail to model the pro-social behavior and development of empathy that these youth really need to learn.

· Positive changes demonstrated while in the program may not last when a youth returns to his community. Many adult and juvenile offenders sentenced to boot camps report that the program is helpful to them and they feel more positive about their futures. It is unclear, however, whether these attitudinal changes persist after youth leave the boot camp, or whether they are related to actual changes in behavior once a youth returns to his community. Without significant therapeutic intervention while in the program, as well as specialized aftercare following release, boot camp programs have been consistently unsuccessful in "rehabilitating" juvenile or adult offenders.

· Boot camps are not a "quick fix." Most boot camps have high drop-out rates (as many as half fail to graduate in some programs), and staff in at least one juvenile program have expressed concern that too many youth lack the maturity and self-control to succeed in a military-style program. After leaving boot camp, youth are not prepared for productive lives in their communities. The Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice has suggested that, for boot camps to be effective, they must incorporate a full range of rehabilitative services and programs, ...

Solution Summary

In reference to criminal justice, this solution discusses whether or not the segregation of HIV-positive inmates is ethical, boot camp type facilities are an effective correctional program and conjugal and familial visitation are effective rehabilitative concepts. Supplemented with a highly informative article.