The purpose of rehabilitation
9. 'Rehabilitation' means literally 're-enabling'
or 'making fit again' (from the Latin rehabilitare). In
the prison context it means readying prisoners to rejoin society,
as useful and law-abiding members of the wider community. It
was pointed out to us in evidence that 'rehabilitation'
can be a misnomer, because many prisoners have never been 'habilitated'
in society in the first place.
10. The 'Prison Rules' published by the Government
require the Prison Service to ensure that "the purpose of
the training and treatment of convicted prisoners shall be to
encourage and assist them to lead a good and useful life"
and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 includes the "reform and
rehabilitation of prisoners" among the statutory purposes
of sentencing. 
11. The Government defines one of its main objectives
in rehabilitating offenders as reducing re-offending. In 2002,
the Home Office set a Public Service Agreement Target of reducing
the predicted rate of re-offending by 5% by April 2004 and again
by 5% by April 2006. The Prison Service has stated that "reducing
re-offending by released prisoners is central to reducing crime
and is therefore part of the Prison Service's core business of
protecting the public"
12. In our visits to Germany and to Sweden we explored
those countries' attitudes to the rehabilitation of prisoners.
In both cases rehabilitation strategy has a clear purpose and
is based on well-defined principles. The fundamental principles
underlying the German penal system are (i) the goal of re-socialization
or rehabilitation (Resozialisierungsziel): "during
imprisonment, the prisoner shall be enabled to lead, in social
responsibility, a life without criminal offences"; (ii)
the principle of normalisation (Angleichungsgrundsatz)
which requires that life in corrections shall as much as possible
resemble general living conditions outside prison; and (iii) the
principle of damage reduction (Gegenwirkungsgrundsatz)
which requires correctional authorities to address and counteract
the damaging consequences of imprisonment.
13. In Sweden, the treatment of prisoners is directed
from the outset to promote the prisoner's readjustment and reintegration
into society on release and to counteract the negative consequences
of imprisonment. Prison is viewed as the last possible resort.
When imprisonment is unavoidable, the underlying penal philosophy
is for the prisoner to maintain close contact and co-operation
with society, through contacts with family, support services and
restorative community projects, including work with victims of
Models of intervention
14. Rehabilitation regimes around the world comprise
a number of different types of interventions which are employed
in varying degrees to provide purposeful activity for prisoners,
challenge offending behaviour, provide basic education to tackle
illiteracy and innumeracy and equip prisoners with life and work
skills. The most common interventions are:
- Needs assessment
to identify the offender's needs and classify the types of intervention
required. This is a core ingredient in sentence and resettlement
- Education to address
the prisoner's educational deficits.
- Behavioural and cognitive skills programmes
to challenge offending behaviour and offending-related risks,
and provide treatment for substance misuse.
- Vocational training
to provide transferable and recognised skills to increase prospects
of employment on release.
- Work to give prisonersoften
for the first timeexperience of the working day and increase
prospects of employment on release.
- Resettlement to provide
assistance to prisoners with finding accommodation and employment
after their release.
1 Q140 Back
The Prison Rules 1999 (S.I. (1999) No. 728), consolidated September
2002, rule 3 Back
Criminal Justice Act 2003, Explanatory Notes Back
Ev 117 (paras 1.1.1-3) Back