Is the U.S. Criminal Justice System to Blame for Creating the Next Generation of Offenders?
Kathleen Malley-Morrison and Ellen Gutowski, reviewers of Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children: Cross-National Comparative Studies by Joseph Murray, Catrien C.J.H. Bijleveld, David P. Farrington, and Rolf Loeber, provide several examples of violence in American culture and how this violence is embedded within a context in which undesired behavior is punished through a criminal justice system focused primarily on retribution rather than rehabilitation.
In Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children: Cross-National Comparative Studies the detrimental effect of a punishment-oriented criminal justice system on children of offenders is explored. As the reviewers describe, the book presents evidence that incarceration contributes to crime rates “in the next generation as part of a system of cyclical violence in which a punishment-oriented society maintains or heightens the problem through its retributive efforts to suppress violence and other unwanted behavior” (para. 3).
Several theoretical frameworks to guide understanding of this issue are discussed in the book, and Malley-Morrison and Gutowski offer an additional viewpoint: that an unequal distribution of power and wealth in the United States contributes to both the disproportionately high incarceration rate and the negative outcomes associated with it.
Do you agree that unequal distribution of power and wealth is a contributing factor?
How can policy be changed to mitigate the negative impacts of incarceration on children and families?
Should the United States’ criminal justice system move beyond its focus on retribution to a more rehabilitative-focused system, like those found in the Netherlands and Sweden?
By Kathleen Malley-Morrison and Ellen Gutowski
PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(40)