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In fact, one study found that treatment programs made boys do worse.
Martinson said the same was true of other prison alternatives, like parole with intensive supervision.
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.
For example, parole boards were criticized for making racially-biased decisions.
Further, Martinson’s review found that the length of a sentence had no impact on recidivism.
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).
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This scholarship fueled a wave of reforms that shifted the juvenile justice system away from rehabilitation and toward other goals like deterrence and incapacitation. The 736 pages was the result of a six month effort to comb through every good study they could find about rehabilitation. This was their conclusion: “With few exceptions, the rehabilitative efforts that have been reported so far have no appreciable effect on recidivism.”Robert Martinson (1974) wrote a summary of that book, in which he examined every conceivable program that might help to reduce recidivism.