Treatment and punishment



  • In the past - in prisons, criminals had to do hard labour, e.g. hammering a rock or turning a metal wheel. Were done for no reason, just to make the criminals work.
  • Lombroso's humane approach changed the way criminals are treated in prisons. He stated that criminals being forced to undergo hard labour wouldnt help them become better people - should be helped by finding out why they committed the crime and dealing with these issues.
  • However, Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment contridicts this. He got 'normal' people to act as prisoners and prison guards in a false prison environment - participant took on role more seriously and torture occured. Concluded that it in in human nature to want to punish people with criminal behaviour.
  • Skinner, from experiment with rats, concluded that punishments need to be consistant, immediate and aversive. If punishments were always this, there is a lower risk of the offender repeating the crimes as they dont want to be punished further.
  • Cannot alwasy be linked to real life prisons - not always consistant as not all criminals get caught, not immediate as may not be caught for some time and court cases can go on for a while, not aversive as some criminals commit crimes on purpose as their life inside of prison is better than that outside (e.g. homeless).
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Cognitive therapy

  • What psychology base their criminal treatment on - includes ETS and R+R.
  • Friendship (2002) found both methods were effective, whereas Cann et al (2003) found only ETS effective. However, worth noting that reduced conviction apllies to only those who complete the course - something that is not explained in other studies. Reason why Cann found R+R ineffective could be that some did  not attend all sessions.
  • Palmer et al (2008) found that noncompleters were more likely to be reconvicted.
  • However, gender bias in this research. Studies do not say whether they use male or female participants. Cann (2003) found that both ETS and R+R were developed for male prisoners so may be uneffective for female prisoners.
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Behavioural therapy and ZT

  • Behaviour - another area psychology treatment of criminals is based on. E.g. token economy - tokens are given out for desirable behaviour which can be traded for privilages e.g. having TV time. Treatment is immediate, consistant and clearly defined - similar to skinner box. Tokens only given out to people who are well behaved, reinforcing positive behaviour.
  • Blackburn (1993) found token economy was successful in controlling behaviour in institution. However, Garrido and Morales (2007) found that for juvenile prisoners who had commited serious crimes recividism was highest when no intervention was recieved but cognitive programmes were more successful than behavioural ones - study meta analysis - reliability.
  • ZT - Kellig and Wilson (1982) neighbourhood could degenerate if just one broken window is left unrepaired as it creates a social norm. Bratton (1990) hired 7000 extra police officers to target minor crimes in NY - 3 years crime dropped by 37%.
  • Ulmer et al (2000) supports ZT - assessed impact on young drivers - the 9% decrease in accidents is convincing as pre-ZT rates provided a base line. Rates in adjacent states did not change over same period. 
  • However, Pollard (1998) critisised the NY policy for being too harsh - e.g. harrassing citizens by cracking down on non-criminal activities such as drinking. Potetnnially alienate the community and be detrimental to long term policing.
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