Can an offender ever be allowed to rehabilitate?

I’ve been thinking again about rehabilitation of offenders, especially in light of the furore surrounding Ched Evens.  This is a really difficult subject and other commentators have pointed out the lack of “rehabilitation” following Evens’ release.  It highlights a familiar aspect of having a criminal record – that you are punished once by the law, then a second time by society who will shun your reintegration.  So what then is the point of sending someone to prison?  At the outset I should say that I think Ched Evens does himself no favours by showing either no remorse, or, if he feels that it is not appropriate to his case, no sensitivity to the victims of rape – which surely any decent person would do.  But I do question some of the comments I have read surrounding the case.

If you serve a prison sentence, part of the time you spend inside is supposed to be devoted to your rehabilitation.  If you rehabilitate, are you still branded a criminal on your release?  On your release, why can’t you not return to your chosen profession?  If you cannot return to your chosen profession, how are you going to make ends meet?  Is it a requirement of an ex-offender to forever eat humble pie and don sackcloth and ashes?  It may be unpalatable to society, but if you want to treat ex-offenders as pariahs, then save the tax-payer money (housing benefit, job-seekers allowance etc) and bring back capital punishment – for all offences.

Is it the crime Ched Evens committed or is it his lack of remorse (and I chose my words carefully as I read the facts surrounding the case on https://www.crimeline.info/case/r-v-ched-evans-chedwyn-evans).  I read on the BBC web site that “Jessica Ennis-Hill wants her name to be removed from a stand named after her by Sheffield United if the club offers convicted rapist Ched Evans a contract”.  She is quoted as saying “Those in positions of influence should respect the role they play in young people’s lives and set a good example. If Evans was to be re-signed by the club it would completely contradict these beliefs.”  But what would her opinion be if he had served his time, had been released and had demonstrated total remorse for his actions?  He could use his status as a person of “influence” to urge others not to make the same gross errors of judgement that have been attributed to him.  Would that be enough to allow a young man to continue in what is, by comparison, a very short career.  Does it hurt society so much to see an ex-offender earn money?

I also question Ms Ennis-Hill’s idea that sports people should set a good example – sport like every walk of life, is sprinkled with wife beaters, tax evaders, motoring offenders, thieves and thugs.  It would be a lovely world if we all, sports people included, set a good example.  But if we do commit an offence and serve our time, I would like society to act with the same vigour and allow offenders to be punished and then to rehabilitate and ultimately to re-join society.

And you might find the following facts pertinent.  Some 25 years ago, I got myself into a situation where a guy played on a really, really bad day I’d had at the office and plied me with alcohol for the sole reason of getting me drunk so he could sleep with me.  It worked, I awoke from a drunken stupor to find him on top of me in my bed.  He felt it was a conquest, I felt mortified that I’d allowed myself to get into that situation.  No-one apart from my sister knew about the event and I had to move on as going to the police in those days just wasn’t an option.  So I find myself in the invidious position of seeing both sides of the argument.