Rehabilitation Programmes and Recidivism in the Zambian Prison System
Likando, Kenworthy Mwandamena Mulife
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1.STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Zambia has seen a tremendous rise in crime, and consequently the government has been preoccupied with how the rising crime rate could be reduced. There have been different strategies adopted by the government in order to curb the rising crime rate and rehabilitation of prison inmates is one of them. But even though it is one of the purposes of imprisonment in general and rehabilitation programmes in particular (which in Zambia mainly consist of teaching a skill to the prison inmates) to convert "criminals" into law abiding citizens, the high rate of recidivism (i.e, the return of ex-prisoners to prison) shows that rehabilitation does not have the intended effect on a large percentage of prisoners as the following table shows: The percentage of recidivism does not seem to decline, it is high, and the question arises: why is this so? Could it be that the causes of crime cannot be found in the individual who violated the law? In order to deal with the problem of this study effectively an effort is made to examine how the different theories on the caused of crime can be used to analyse recidivism among Zambia's prison inmates - an issue which will be dealt with in the next section. However, not only the different theories might help us to find an answer to the problem of recidivism in spite of rehabilitation but there are several other factors, listed below, which could contribute to the understanding of the problem and at the same time give us an answer to the main question: why do rehabilitation programmes within the prison setting fail to prevent recidivism for a large number of convicts? The official purposes of imprisonment are contradictory, for instance, imprisonment is supposed to retribute and deter criminals thereby creating an unfavourable environment for rehabilitation. Since a prisoner is in a constant mental torture because of the deprivation of liberty, goods and services, heterosexual relationships and security, he cannot successfully relearn appropriate behaviour. 2.Imprisonment can be criminogenic in nature, new criminal activities can be learned from fellow inmates. 3. There are different types of prisoners and those greatly in need of rehabilitation are often the ones who are least motivated to seek it. 4.In correspondence with most theories one of the causes of crime in other countries, the majority of the prison population in this country is also drawn from the lower class, whose social situation is quite desperate, in that they lack skills, education and employment and live in squallor. All these factors can be crime breeding and render rehabilitation ineffective. The ex-prisoner has often his marriage shaken, employment lost, in addition he is stigmatized by society and denied all chances to better his living, even though he has learned a skill in prison. II. The theoretical framework of analysis: The reasons why people commit crime are the subject of great debate among criminologists which have developed different theories. 1. The classical view:According to the classical view of the last century, criminality is based on the principle of "free will" but following the hedonistic principle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. According to this view imprisonment should be harsh so as to retribute and deter people from committing crimes. 2. The biological theory: This theory offers that criminals are born and show certain physical features. According to these two outdated theories there is no room for rehabilitation. 3.Merton's theory:Merton sees the causes of crime in the social structure and the disadvantage of the lower class to reach societal goals of wealth and success. Rehabilitation which is aimed at changing the individual would not eliminate the causes of crime. 4.The theories of subculture: Also according to the theories of subculture rehabilitation would not eliminate the causes of crime because they too consider juvenile delinquency as a group phenomenon of the lower class and their social situation. 5. Sutherland's theory: Even according to Sutherland's theory of differential contacts it is problematic to change the individual in prison and not the group outside the prison from which crime was learned. 6. The labelling theory: States that crime is a process provoked by the labelling of society and imprisonization is the most crucial step of the process of identification of an individual with criminal roles, and no rehabilitation programme could make up for it. 7. Marxian theory: According to this theory crime is a feature of capitalism,the unorganised war of the lower class against the bourgeoisie arising out of their desperate social situation and will wither away v/hen the world reached a socialist stage. 8. The critical criminology: A similar stand takes the more and more influential critical criminology which tries to combine the Marxian with the labelling theory.Common to most of the theories of the 20th century is the notion that crime is related to the societal structure and they therefore exonerate the individual from criminal responsibility. This focus will be the main tool of our analysis for rehabilitation programmes in relation to recidivism.III. The Hypotheses: Taking into account the different theories on the causes crime, research related to the topic as well as general empirical observations, it is appropriate to hypothesize that: 1. the intended positive elements of the rehabilitation programmes have less influence (cause) on the recidivists and their social situation (effect) than the general negative effects of imprisonment (cause) This is because not only are the rehabilitation programmes unable to eliminate the crime causing social situation, at the time of first offence, but the general negative effects of imprisonment often even worsen this situation. 2. Either the previously existing or the worsened social situation becomes a cause for recidivism (effect). 3. No significant difference is expected between groups of people learning a skill in prison and those learning no skill, because of the much more powerful negative effects of imprisonment. IV. The Objectives of the Study: This study has the following principle objectives: 1. To provide an analysis why rehabilitation programmes within the prison setting are failing to prevent recidivism. 2. To show that imprisonment has a negative effect on a large percentage of individuals. 3. To show that no significant difference exists in the social situation of recidivists whether or not they underwent rehabilitation programmes. 4. It is also an attempt to provide a basis for further studies especially for the search of alternatives to imprisonment and for the evaluation of the already existing alternatives to imprisonment, an overdue problem,which can only be touched upon in passing in this study. V. The Methodology of the Study: In order to test the hypotheses and achieve the objectives of the study, the method will be a five-fold one, which shows that it will not primarily be a quantitative but to a large extent a qualitative descriptive ones 1. Observation and description of the rehabilitation programmes: In Lusaka Central Prison, in Kabwe Maximum Security Prison and in Mongu Prison will bring light on the rehabilitation programme as such. 2. The study of prisoner's fi1es will be a necessary pre-requisite for the selection of samples but also a useful compliment to the questionnaire. 3. The questionnaires: will be the basis for structured interviews on two representative samples of male prisoners of the three prisons with approximately the same level of education and age, all without skills at the time of first offence. Each sample will comprise 50 persons. Sample A will be drawn from prisoners who underwent rehabilitation, while sample B will represent those who did not learn a skill while in prison. Both groups will be recidivists with three or more imprisonments. The questionnaire will aim at comparing the social situation and integration at the time of first and last offences, in other words, before the first and last imprisonment. In addition, the questionnaire will aim at comparing the social situation and integration between the two groups before the last imprisonment. Length of intervals between imprisonments and types of offence will be taken from the prisoner's files. Social situation end integration will be measured by such categories as income, job situation, education, housing, marital status, family situation, relatives, network, of friends. 4.In each group four or five people will be chosen for a qualitative study which can shed more light on the biography and development of recidivists than a quantitative study can do. 5. Lastly the study of documents will be utilized such as the Prison Act of 1965, the Prisons Standing Orders, the Prisons regulations and Rules, Prisons Annual Reports and other. VI. The Significance of the Study: 1. It is a pioneer work since no research on rehabilitation programmes of Zambia's prisons has been carried out. 2. It is a contribution to the consideration of the problem of crime which by far exceeds the simple concepts underlying rehabilitation programmes. 3. However, since society cannot be changed overnight and until alternatives for incarceration are found, the study might provide some valuable information for prison officials, police, magistrates, government officials and many others on how to improve the prison setting and as such provide a stimulus for more effort in the search for effective alternatives. In the long run it is hopefully a contribution to reduce crime.