THE MEDICAL MODEL IN CORRECTIONS Requiescat in Pace Requiescat in Pace


  • Donal E. J. MacNamara, Professor of Criminology and Corrections, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, is a past president of the American Society of Criminology and co-editor with Edward Sagarin of Criminology: An Interdisciplinary Journal.


The medical model for corrections, confidently espoused by several generations of behavioral scientists although never empirically validated, is now reeling under attacks from an interdisciplinary (though unorganized) army of critics. Attacking its basic premise (that the offender is “sick” and con be “cured”). the new penologists advocate a justice model based on individual responsibility with uniform penalties consistently imposed for like crimes. Out would go the indeterminate sentence, virtually unlimited judicial discretion, parole, and coerced participation in rehabilitation programs. Deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation would be restored as respectable rationalizations for imprisonment; but in general long prison terms would be reserved only for the habitually violent.