Wednesday, May 14, 2014
New science and evolving societal views have led commentators to question the doctrine of finality. This parallels commentators’ embrace of rehabilitation during the middle of the last century. Today, casting off the strictures of finality and embracing rehabilitation are considered complimentary positions, but finality has historically been understood as promoting rehabilitation. This shift stems from our changing understandings of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation focuses on offender change — on whether an offender is a final product or, rather, whether he is capable of transformation. Offender change, though, could be either change in character or change in behavior, or a combination of these two types of transformation. While finality may promote character change, it could undercut behavioral change. These possibly different effects of finality in the context of rehabilitation makes it vital to disentangle various understandings of rehabilitation and evaluate their attainability and desirability.