n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Restorative justice - a new dimension of sentencing in South African courts

Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The South African Law Commission, in two of its papers (June 1997:21-22 and December 2000:2), discusses shortcomings in the sentencing process in South Africa and makes specific mention of the sentence of imprisonment, which is imposed all too often for less serious offences, while more imaginative restorative justice alternatives could give far more satisfaction to all parties involved in sentencing. In the Commission's investigation into a new sentencing framework for application in the South African Courts (South African Law Commission December 2000:xix), the approach is followed that an ideal sentencing policy should promote consistency in sentencing; reassure the community that courts approach specific categories of crime with the appropriate degree of gravity; pave the way for victim participation in the sentencing process; allow room for the development of restorative measures in sentencing; and deliver sentences that fall within the State's capacity to apply in the long term. The purpose of this article is to explore the theoretical and practical application of the principles of restorative justice in the Bill on a Sentencing Framework (referred to as "the Bill" later in the article) as proposed by the South African Law Commission, and to place it within a criminological perspective by focusing on: ?restorative justice as a principle of sentencing, the accent on victims' needs, and? restorative measures and sentencing options.

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