Correctional rehabilitation and positive psychology: Opportunities and challenges

Stephanie J. Morse, Kevin A. Wright, Max Klapow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At this point it is clear that the pursuit of the rehabilitative ideal is stitched into the DNA of American corrections. However, in our collective quest to establish and defend ‘what works,’ correctional rehabilitation has lingered in a state of preoccupation with risks, deficits, and individual pathology. The framework of Positive Psychology provides an alluring blueprint for an approach to correctional rehabilitation where people are not considered different humans who are reduced to their deficits and their worst decisions. In the current paper we explore the possibilities of incorporating the principles of Positive Psychology into correctional rehabilitation to help promote a notion of correctional success that is more dynamic, humanizing, and inclusive. We begin by discussing the development, progression, and current state of correctional rehabilitation. We then turn to discussing the development, progression, and current state of Positive Psychology, suggesting that there is a missed opportunity in applying its principles to people who are impacted by the criminal justice system. We conclude with a section discussing the opportunities and challenges of bringing correctional rehabilitation and Positive Psychology together.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12960
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • correctional rehabilitation
  • crime & deviance
  • positive psychology
  • punishment
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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