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Further, Martinson derided the theory of “crime as a social phenomena,” arguing that rehabilitative strategies “have on occasion become, and have the potential for becoming, so draconian as to offend the moral order of a democratic society.” He also worried that rehabilitation implied releasing those who have little risk of re-offending, but keeping high-risk criminals locked up so that they might be rehabilitated.
He wrote:“A middle-class banker who kills his adulterous wife in a moment of passion is a ‘low risk’ criminal; a juvenile delinquent in the ghetto who commits armed robbery has, statically, a much higher probability of committing another crime.
A homosexual hates women, and makes difficulties with the wives of his friends.
For example, parole boards were criticized for making racially-biased decisions.
Further, critical theorists like Michel Foucault (1977) problematized the rehabilitative ideal by arguing it widened the net of social control, serving to “enable the state to expand its power over the minds and bodies of socially disruptive, surplus, and/or vulnerable populations.” (Cullen 2005).
Foucault and the “new criminologists” gave rise to a new dogma that saw rehabilitation as “a case of good intentions corrupted for sinister purposes.” After that point, scholars spent little time studying how to make rehabilitation better.
According to Cullen (2005), they were “in fact cheering for showing that treatment programs did not work.”Instead, these reformers wanted to set clear sentencing guidelines and legal protections that would be codified in legal statutes.