An evaluation of juvenile rehabilitation programmes: perspectives from Westville Correctional Centre, KwaZulu-Natal.
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After 1994, offender rehabilitation received more strategic consideration in South Africa. To some degree, this increased focus on improving the restoration of offenders and reintegrating them into society came from the 1996 South African Constitution, which contains explicit rights for sentenced and un-sentenced offenders. These rights incorporate the rights to human dignity, equality; the security and freedom of the person; children’s rights; rights to physical and moral integrity; rights to a fair trial; rights to an adequate standard of living; rights to healthy conditions while in custody; and rights to fairness under the watchful eye of the law. In South Africa, there have been increasing concerns regarding the increasing occurrence of recidivism. It remains a great concern that recidivism is characterised with serious crimes namely rape, substance abuse, murder and robbery. The contribution of rehabilitation to public safety and risk reduction is important. Victims, offenders, and communities benefit from rehabilitation. The Constitution of 1996 obliges the state to guarantee the enforcement of human rights, and therefore, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) adopted different correctional programmes with the intention of rehabilitating criminal practices so that offenders can be incorporated back into the community. Offenders form an important part of the community and should not be ignored. If juveniles are effectively rehabilitated, they can become responsible members of society. Regardless of continued endeavours from government and non-governmental organisation (NGOs) to restore offenders, episodes of assault and interrelated serious crimes remain to plague the nation, increasing issues in respect of utilising and estimating the DCS’s rehabilitation measures. Repeat offending places communities in danger and damages the country’s international reputation. Vicious sexual violations, specifically, have critical ramifications in respect to socio-economic of the nation in terms of productivity, investments, lost lives and social attachment. The re-offenses by previous offenders warrant appropriate research to establish how well the Offender Rehabilitation Programmes (ORPs) are implemented and their effectiveness. At the moment, there is little data that reflects on how the DCS’s correctional programmes have been executed, and the present data regarding these activities is to a great extent dependent on media reports. Until now, no complete research has been directed to decide the effectiveness of the ORPs. It is this information gap that led to this study. The study closely examined the Westville Correctional Centre to determine the effectiveness of the juvenile rehabilitation programmes, which is meant to ensure a change of behaviour among offenders. The study was conducted using qualitative methods and a case study research design in exploring the effectiveness of the juvenile rehabilitation programmes. In essence, the study sought to explore on how the juvenile rehabilitation programmes contribute to the improvement of life for the juvenile offenders and also reflect on how it prepares them for restoration into their respective societies. The study adopted the theory of responsive regulation by John Braithwave in 1989 and the theory of control, which was advanced in 1969 by Travis Hirschi. Using qualitative case study design for data collection, interviews were conducted with all the officials that are involved in the implementation of the programmes. From a governance perspective; the state must provide policies and legislations that are necessary for a sustainable and successful management of programmes. The effectiveness of any programme, including the juvenile rehabilitation programmes, often requires changes to the supporting laws, policies and regulations across the three spheres of government namely National, Provincial and Local government. Continuous programmes after release are important for all offenders and this requires amendments to the applied legislative practices and the relevant regulatory law. These programmes should be compulsory and failure to comply should have dire sanctions.