Whether or not we like it, those individuals who have committed crimes (even serious crimes) are still people. Recognizing this fact allows us to see more clearly their needs or even their risk. I recommend considering the implications of how we regard or “see” inmates. Do we “see” them as humans just like us? Or do we see them more or less than a human? To see inmates as people is to see the whole picture, their whole picture. The system is designed to punish each individual for their criminal behavior and takes little to no consideration for the contributing factors for such behavior.
There is a fancy word that scientists have used to analyze the main contributing factors for criminal behavior. They call this criminogenic needs. These set of factors have been highly correlated with a person’s likelihood for committing a crime. There are several different models or categories for these needs, but I prefer this 5-category model put out by the US Government:
Social Networks (the extent to which a person has pro social or pro criminal people in their life)
In other words, if a person has issues in these categories (depending on how big there issues are) they are much more likely to commit crime. What is the point? If we are going to help inmates not become inmates, then we need to see them as a person who has needs (criminogenic needs) and consider all of their contributing factors and address them. If we can’t see inmates as people, then we most likely cannot see their needs, let alone find a way to address them.