Ludwig von Mises Institute

Rehabilitation

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Rehabilitation is a theory of punishment intended to be humanitarian in nature, which states that a criminal shall be placed in a reformation program to correct the criminal behavior. It is sometimes described as being therapy or healing, rather than punishment, and may describe criminal behavior as an illness or disease.

Criticism[edit]

Murray N. Rothbard concluded that rehabilitation, in spite of its humanitarian aims, may in fact be the most cruel and arbitrary form of punishment. Like deterrence, it also suffers from a lack of proportionality, because a criminal who commits a petty theft might never be rehabilitated into acknowledging their behavior was wrong. Thus, logically, they must be confined indefinitely. The inverse is of course that for a great crime such as murder, the criminal is much more likely to acknowledge the wrongful nature of their crime and again must logically be held for only a brief period of time.

Additionally, this form of punishment gives arbitrary power to a panel of experts and authority figures to determine at what point an individual has been satisfactorily rehabilitated.[1]

  1. The Ethics of Liberty, p.94-96

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