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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 sweeping review found no evidence that rehabilitation programs were reducing recidivism rates. criminology largely abandoned the idea of rehabilitation.In short, they wanted to remove discretionary power from corrections and give that power over to legislatures.During the Reagan era, conservatives seeking to impose more severe penalties also liked this idea, and many states abolished parole and adopted determinant sentencing policies that called for comparatively harsh sentences.
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).In 1977 — two years after Martinson’s article — Washington State passed the Juvenile Justice Act, which included the first statewide sentencing standards for juvenile offenders.Further, section gave judges the discretionary power to send juveniles into the adult court. He called it “an unexamined assumption” that is “about to lose its privileged status as the unthinking axiom of public policy.” In 1975, he went on 60 Minutes and reiterated this message.Cullen says Martinson’s work was soon after “reified,” creating a widely accepted “nothing works doctrine” (Cullen 2005).