Correction of Criminal Offenders


This paper looks at two models which are used in correction of criminal offenders. They include rehabilitation model and the justice or due process model. It explains how the two models are used in the probation system of U.S. Courts, their merits and demerits in reducing crime in the society. However, none can be used effectively in all crimes as discussed below. The main goal of correctional policy is crime reduction (Mackenzie, 2006, p.3). The models use different strategies and programs in order to ensure public safety.

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The rehabilitation model looks at changing the offenders so that they will not commit crimes through strategic models like Marlatt’s Relapse Prevention (RP) model and The Ross Reasoning and Rehabilitation model (Wanberg & Harvey, 1998, p. 49). The justice or due process model calls for fairness and just criminal procedures in which the offender received a just punishment for the crime committed (Siegel, 2006, p. 504; Mackenzie, 2006, p. 10).


Criminal offenders are person or persons who have committed an offence or act against person or society. Criminal offenders can be habitual offenders such as alcoholics, drug abusers, and burglars among others. There are several models used in treatment of criminal offenders namely; medical model, rehabilitation model, justice or due process model, just desserts model and community model.  In this paper will focus on two typical models used namely; rehabilitation model and justice or due process model. Rehabilitation model is one that is directed towards changing offenders so that they will not continue to commit crimes (Mackenzie, 2006, p.3) while justice model advocates for fairness and just sentencing policies (Mackenzie, 2006, p.9). The primary goal for corrections to criminal offenders is to reduce crime (Mackenzie, 2006, p.3). The U.S. probation system is a vital part of the federal judiciary which has the mission to investigate and supervise defendants and offenders. The U.S. probation and pretrial services officers provide these services and have the responsibility of investigating, report preparation and supervision (Federal Judiciary, 2008).


Rehabilitation model is used in crime reduction for corrections of criminal offenders. It is directed towards changing the offenders so that they will not continue to commit crimes (Mackenzie, 2006, p.3). Debates on the most viable strategies to reduce crime continue in which there are arguments for and against. Such strategies according to Mackenzie (2006) include incapacitating the offender, punishing the offender onerously, apply correctional programs or increasing control over offenders while in community or by involving them in physical and or mentally successful experiences.

In the rehabilitative model, programs used in the probation system include; cognitive skills, education, employment services and life skills which are directed to changing the offender so as to prevent criminal behavior of the treated individual (Mackenzie, 2006, p.4).

Rehabilitation programs have also been used in combination with other programs such as control or structure. These have been done through increasing surveillance and control as well as provide rehabilitative services like drugs courts and correctional boot camps (Mackenzie, 2006, p.5). Rehabilitation model has been more emphasized program for sentencing and correction of criminal’s offenders in the first seven decades of twentieth century (Mackenzie, 2006, p.5).

This rehabilitation model has been referred to by Mackenzie (2006) as indeterminate model of sentences because juvenile and adult correctional systems focused on healing the individuals adjudicated for delinquents or criminal offences. Legislatures set maximum authorized sentences; judges sentence offenders to imprisonment, determine duration for sentences and time to release offenders (Mackenzie, 2006, p.6).In these sense, the officials had authority to tailor new sentences to promote correction and rehabilitation and safeguard offender against excessive disproportionate or arbitrary punishment.

In the 1960’s a panel of experts made recommendations to emphasize on probation and parole. Caseloads were reduced to an average of 35 offenders per probation or parole officer. The probation officer had to provide adequate supervision and services to those who need or can profit from community treatment. They were also to develop new methods and skills to aid in reintegrating offenders through active interactions on their behalf with the community institutions. However, rehabilitation programs are usually poorly implemented and funded. (Mackenzie, 2006, p. 7).

            According to Wanberg & Harvey (1998) rehabilitation model is applicable to criminal offenders who have a history of substance use such as alcoholic and other drugs use. For instance, research indicated that 80 percent incarcerated for robbery, burglary or assault committed the offense under the influence of intoxicant (Wanberg & Harvey, 1998, p. 43). They describe that there is a strong relationship between criminal conduct and substance use.

Wanberg & Harvey (1998) illustrated treatment therapy for such criminal offenders. One being coercive intervention in which the basic attraction and recovery begins when the alcoholic talks to another alcoholic, share experience, strength and hope. They interact and enhance interest in change. He points out that motivation is a state of readiness, openness or eagerness to participate in change process. The motivational enhancement therapy (MET) has relative effectiveness of brief treatment for problem drinkers (Wanberg & Harvey, 1998, p. 46). This helps them to develop a more enlightened view of themselves and recognize that it’s for their own interest.

            Rehabilitation models prevent criminal offenders from backsliding to their thoughts, emotions and actions that originally brought them into treatment. The models used to help offenders as the foundation for recovery include Marlatt’s Relapse Prevention (RP) model and the Ross Reasoning & Rehabilitation model. The Marlatt RP strategies include skills training, cognitive reframing, lifestyle intervention and balancing. The Ross Reasoning and Rehabilitation model deals with prevention of recidivism. This includes problem solving, social skills, negotiation skills, managing emotions, creative thinking, values enhancement, critical reasoning skills in review and cognitive exercises (Wanberg & Harvey, 1998, p. 49-50).


According to Siegel (2006) justice/ due process model promotes policies such as increasing size of police forces, maximizing the use of discretion, building more prisons, using the death penalty and reducing legal controls on the justice system. In this model the criminal is responsible for his or her actions (Siegel, 2006, p. 503). Whereas rehabilitative program proved to be ineffective and deny people equal protection under the law. The justice model advocates for fairness in criminal procedures such that it will require determinate sentencing in which all offenders in a particular crime category would receive same sentences. (Siegel, 2006, p. 504). The prisons would become places of just, enhanced punishment and parole would be abolished to avoid unfairness associated with the mechanism (Mackenzie 2006, p.8)

The due process combines elements of liberal/positivist criminology with legal concept of procedural fairness for the accused. This is where there is individualized justice treatment and rehabilitation of offenders. It also advocates for competent defense counsel, just trials and other procedural safeguards to be offered to every criminal defendant. (Siegel, 2006, p.504)

The programs under this include mediation, diversion and community-based corrections.

However, in the justice model, Mackenzie (2006) records that preferential sentences were given to the advantaged and coerced criminals into conformity. Hence officials should not be given wide discretion as permitted by rehabilitated ideal (Mackenzie 2006 p. 9).


In conclusion the two models have merits and demerits to be used in the probation system and due to philosophical changes in behavioral environment, criminals are looked at by society as outcast and antisocial. So the probation system needs to address how effectively they can integrate criminals to society and debrief them of criminal behavior as well as reduce crime. A combination of the two models and others would be a more applicable concept.


Mackenzie, D. L. (2006). What works in correction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The federal judiciary. (2008). The U.S. probation and pretrial services system. Administrative office of U.S. Courts. 2 April 2008, Retrieved from

Siegel, L. J. (2006). Criminology. 9th ed. Belmont, USA: Thompson Wadsworth.

Wanberg, K. W., & Harvey B. M. (1998). Criminal conduct and substance abuse treatment: strategic for self improvement and change. California: SAGE.

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Correction of Criminal Offenders. (2016, Aug 16). Retrieved from