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Rehabilitation? or Punishment??

New Skin
Why Prison?

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: March 13, 2000
E-Mail Faculty on the Site.

Comments on New Skin

Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata
Part of Teaching Series
Copyright: Curran and Takata, February 2000. "Fair Use" encouraged.

On Friday, March 10, John Torres wrote:

"New skin" theory is an error!! Because criminals serve two types of penalties, one for actual offense; the other is the stigma of being branded a "criminal" the rest of their lives!!!!!

On Saturday, March 11, Jeanne answered:

And what about that, John? Is that effective in building the kind of society we want? Is there any rational argument for why the stigma exists? What about our expectations that what is done in the future is somehow shaped by the past? What does Buscaglia say about expectations? What is the cost of not having such expectations? Consider Funk's approach to juvenile crime records. "The Dangers of Hiding Criminal Pasts," 1998 article by T. Marcus Funk, on expungement of juvenile records and its effect on violent offenders. Are there any ecological layers here to be considered? Who would have thought that a single drawing could lead to such complexity?

On Monday, March 13, John wrote:

I agree with the notion that "people are not here to meet our expectations! Buscagalia. We as a society can fall in to the trap of setting people into categories to fit our expectations and therefore discriminate against those who are seeking a second chance in society. Here in this situation expungements could best be applied and prove to be necessary. Every person deserves a second chance and we as society must insure this for every citizen lest we find ourselves in the same predicament oneday.

On Monday, March 13, Jeanne answered:

I'm very impressed with the way in which you have incorporated theoretical and policy decisions into your response. Yes, I agree. There are situations in which expungements do have a place, an important place, particularly in juvenile records. And I agree with the link you recognize that it is when expectations get in the way of our hearing in good faith that we may need to use expungements wisely so as not to do structural harm. Funk's argument against expungement carries most weight in issues of life-threatening violence. We will need to be as careful as possible that our attempts to deal with very real danger to not become structurally violent and unnecessarily harmful to our children.

On tuesday, March 14, John wrote:

I believe a stigma exists because society has a great difficulty forgetting the offender's past history. Society tends to label each perpetrator as ex drug addict or ex con,  never removing the person's past, and when the new refomed person is finally changed his new indenity is usually associated with his or her past identity!!!!

On tuesday, March 14, jeanne answered:

And refusal to hear the new identity in good faith by the re-imposition of the "labelled identity" is structurally violent. How do we cope with that structural violence non-violently?