I also have to agree with the author of this post on criminal rehabilitation.
I also can see the two sides, while falling more in the middle just the same. On the one hand I have to wonder about some of these 3 strikes laws you see other places where people commit crimes and are punished for subsequent crimes they commit that could really be blamed on the nature of incarceration people faced. On the other hand I see other places like foreign countries that send people to prison only 15-20 years for things like murder. I understand people make horrible mistakes, but some are so bad that these people need to go away so they don't have the chance to make them again.
As far as Texas goes, I think it's way too in love with the death penalty. I don't really feel that executing a person is the best way to demonstrate that murder is wrong. As a matter of principle I don't think any person has the moral authority to kill another person for reasons other than self-defense. That said, I hadn't heard about this recent focus on rehabilitation.
I too think prison should be no picnic and just based on the lack of freedom of movement it really isn't. It should take away enough freedom to make people never want to go back. I think what would be equally effective, though, would be if rehabilitation gave inmates enough hope for their prospects in the world that they didn't want to come back.
Like my colleagues mentioned, it saves money if people aren't in and out of courts and prisons over and over again, but also it saves lives. More US population is institutionalized in its prisons than most any other country. This is a drain on taxpayers, but it's also just plain sad. If people can learn from mistakes in prison and gain hope for their life after being there, they won't end up back there.