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- Volume 16, Issue 2, 2003
Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Volume 16, Issue 2, 2003
Volumes & issues
Volume 16, Issue 2, 2003
Author Jan NeserSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp I –II (2003)More Less
Amongst other interesting topics addressed in this edition of Acta Criminologica, two articles respectively relate to the very important issues of victim impact statements (VIS) and the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immodeficiency syndrome (HIV/Aids) in prisons.
VIS originated from the need to establish some systematic form of victim participation in sentencing decision-making. The essence of the concept of the VIS is that the victim is given the opportunity to describe the wider effects of the crime that is usually not included in an evidential statement.
Author J.P.J. DussichSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 1 –9 (2003)More Less
The popular image of a police officer is a person who is strong, skilled and invulnerable. However, in reality the police have weaknesses, lack some skills and are often vulnerable. There are at least five categories of police victimisation : Direct injury or death of an officer while on duty; being a witness to the injury or death of another officer; being a witness to the injury or death of non-officers; being exposed to extraordinary fear due to unique and extreme stressors caused by police work; and the suffering of a police officer's family and friends when he / she is seriously incapacitated or is killed in the line duty. A unique type of vulnerability, which in turn can cause a unique type of trauma and which requires a unique type of coping is the causal factor in each of these categories. Thus, the challenge for administrators is to find ways to reduce police vulnerability, lower the intensity of their trauma when victimised, and facilitate their coping so that recovery is hastened. The intent here is to offer clear and concrete solutions that can be helpful to those police officers who just face the daily threat of crime, cope with their emotions, and continue to perform their duty according to their commission and the expectations of the communities they have sworn to protect. Somewhat surprisingly, few victimologists have written about the plight of police officers (and their families) who become victims due to their exposure to high levels of risk. Thus, the challenge here is to reduce their greater vulnerability, minimise their trauma when victimized, and afterwards provide support in their efforts to cope. It is unfortunate that in this age of enlightened law enforcement management, there are still believable reports that some police supervisors perceive the officers who need psychological help as "crybabies", and thus do not understand the real dynamics of trauma suffered in the aftermath of a victimisation. For effective policing, accurate and sensitive leadership must deal with the reality of police trauma. Without it a police force is seriously handicapped and even worse, it is a significant disservice to the rank and file police officers who dedicate their time and often their lives in the line of duty.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 10 –18 (2003)More Less
Courts are increasingly placing schizophrenic patients in the care of their families instead of committing them to institutions. It has been shown in other countries that families cope in varying degrees with this burden and that the level of expressed emotion impacts on the relapse rate in patients. A study was undertaken to examine the difference between family support systems of institutionalised patients and those of patients staying with their families. It has been established in earlier studies that close contact with family, the communicative atmosphere found at home, and constant treatment with medication are effective in the treatment of the schizophrenic. Other studies with subjects from lower socio-economic status indicated that the level of family expressed emotion is higher. It was also found that high expressed emotion is contributory to the high relapse rate, in comparison to neutral and low expressed emotion. Relatives with a high expressed emotion show a more immediate response style and a greater amount of speech. The greater the emotion expressed in communication when talking about the patient, the worse the prognosis, especially with the relatives who are relatively hostile, or show a high degree of emotional over-involvement with patients.
Although the sample was too small to draw conclusive evidence, certain trends were noted. The study has revealed very important emotional aspects of groups of families. The families of schizophrenia patients shared common emotions pertaining to high expressed emotion, family bonding and acceptance of the loss due to schizophrenic disorder in the family, which can be contributed to extended family cohesion. The most significant feature that was found, is the need for therapeutic groups for families and the understanding that their role is important in family system therapy as treatment modality.
A forensic case study of a paedophile illustrating the presentation and value of the pre-sentence evaluation reportSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 19 –29 (2003)More Less
The primary purpose of the pre-sentence report is to provide the court with comprehensive information about the offender as a person in order to assist in the passing of an appropriate sentence. The report provides details and an explanation of the causes and context within which the crime took place. This information is often not known to the magistrate and serves to individualise the offender. The report undertakes to include both aggravating and mitigating factors and concludes with the consideration of a number of possible sentence options. The above information is, however, not prescriptive and serves merely as a guideline for the court.
In the case under discussion the accused is a white, married male under the age of 30, convicted by the Benoni Regional Magistrate's Court on four counts of indecent assault as well as eight counts of contravening section 14(1)b of the Sexual Offences Act 23 of 1957. The accused had sexual encounters with a number of adolescent boys aged between 14 and 18 years of age over a period of years. Further investigation reflected that not all the boys involved were affected in the same way. It seems that each boy experienced the situation differently, depending on the particular boy's personality and circumstances. The article examines the effect of sexual abuse on a child as well as characteristics of the sex offender who specifically targets children.
The sentencing of a sex offender is the focus of much attention by the media, the specific community involved and wider society. The current trend is for more stringent punishment and that offenders serve a more realistic portion of their sentences. The sentence imposed should set an example to society and show potential offenders that crimes against children will not be tolerated.
Perceptions of road traffic injury causes and interventions in the Limpopo Province, South Africa : implications for preventionSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 30 –42 (2003)More Less
The aim of this study was to identify the local perceptions of road users with regard to the causes of and interventions in respect of traffic injuries involving different stakeholders in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. The sample included 18 professional drivers, 20 private drivers, 15 policy makers and law reinforcement officials, and 25 passengers and pedestrians chosen by convenience from the urban areas of Pietersburg and Mankweng. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with key informants from each of the above groups were conducted. Qualitative data analysis found the following themes as perceived causes of and interventions in respect of road traffic injuries : (1) Legislation and enforcement (intervention suggestions included traffic laws need to be reinforced and applied fairly and indiscriminately); (2) Execessive speeding and overloading (interventions included more speed traps, heavier fines, presence of traffic officers on the road, special training for (taxi) drivers on reasonable and careful driving); (3) Road and substance use (such as testing and prosecution for drinking and driving that needs to be improved especially for drugs other than alcohol); (4) Irresponsible driving behaviour, disregard of traffic regulations, carelessness, and temporary distraction (interventions included harsh punishment in terms of fines and sentence, including suspension of driving licence, while pedestrians should also be penalised for disregarding road traffic signs and motorists); (5) Roadworthiness of vehicle (such as a road fitness test for taxis at least once 1-3 months); (6) Aging, disease and disability (introduce an age limit for driving, e.g. 60 years); (7) Fatigue and acute psychological stress (such as legislation that forces truck drivers only to drive for six hours, and training of how to manage emotions when making driving); (8) Cultural / religious factors (believers should practice their traditions); (9) Traffic signs / lights and road conditions (including the improvement of traffic signs and control of cattle); and (10) children as road users (teaching children about road safety in schools and in the village). The results are discussed with a view to road traffic injury prevention interventions in South Africa.
A silver era for victims of crime : reassessing the role that victim impact statements can play in improving victim involvement in criminal justice proceduresSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 43 –56 (2003)More Less
It is postulated that the victims of crime are often regarded as the "Cinderellas" or "step children" of the criminal justice system, regardless of the paradigm shift in the thinking of criminal justice agencies from mainly focusing on arresting and prosecuting criminals to the better treatment of and service delivery to victims of crime. One way of accomplishing this paradigm shift is by the introduction of victim impact statements in the criminal justice system. A victim impact statement is a statement made by crime victims expressing the impact the crime has had on them or their families and can be written or orally submitted by audio, video or other electronic means to the court. This article provides an exposition of the contents of a victim impact statement such as the emotional and physical impact of the crime, financial losses suffered by the victim, and the victim's opinion on sentencing. Furthermore, a discussion of the recommendations of the South African Law Commission (SALC) is also covered in this article. The SALC discussion paper on Sexual Offences : Process and Procedure is aimed at reforming the law in such a way that victims of sexual violence would be encouraged to approach the criminal justice system for assistance and to improve the experiences of those victims who choose to enter the system. According to the SALC, one of the ways of acknowledging victims of sexual violence in the legal process is through victim impact statements. The SALC also refer to the difficulty of child crime victims and witnesses in giving evidence in court and how victim impact statements can be utilised to assist the child to articulate the impact of the crime by drawings or story telling. Finally, the article not only highlights some of the criticism against victim impact statements but also the advantages of victim impact statements for the victims and criminal justice agencies.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 57 –76 (2003)More Less
This study of perceptions of the death penalty takes cognisance of both perspectives of abolitionists and retentionists. Abolitionists argue that the death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading and is actually in contravention of the South African Constitution. Retentionists argue that the death penalty serves the purpose of "just deserts" and is necessary to curb serious crime such as murder, rape and armed robbery. Penological and philosophical perspectives of the death penalty are discussed. Two types of sentences, imprisonment and capital punishment, are highlighted together with the goals of sentencing : Retribution (the just deserts model) and rehabilitation (a more productive outcome of sentencing), incapacitation and deterrence. In 1995, capital punishment was declared unconstitutional in South Africa in S v Makwanyane and another, and in 1997, finally abolished in S v Hadebe. Philosophers argue that the state, as a social contract, exists for the sake of social order. Henceforth, this discussion revolves around a search for greater clarity about the death penalty. For this reason, utilitarian, retributive and integrative theories of punishment are also brought into play to supplement the present debate. Empirically, an explorative-descriptive analysis of data collected at an institution of higher learning in northern KwaZulu-Natal, shows a positive attitude towards the death penalty for murder (with aggravating circumstances), rape, armed robbery and vehicle hijacking. Respondents are also in favour of capital punishment for murderers of policemen, private security guards and farmers. A strong feeling exists among respondents for the reinstatement of the death penalty to curb the incidence of murder in South Africa. Further, capital punishment is significantly perceived to be tantamount to the notion of "an eye for an eye" (just deserts), and has, as such, a definite deterrent value. Moderate to weak support exists for life imprisonment and the opportunity it offers for rehabilitating murderers.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 77 –87 (2003)More Less
An increase in drug use in South Africa and the effect thereof on our justice system necessitates proper policing policy, and prevention and treatment strategies. When substance abusers are incarcerated, it is necessary to differentiate between punishment and treatment. It is thus vital to decide whether treatment or punishment is the ultimate aim or, if indeed a combination of the two is not a solution to the problem. Various traditional and contemporary models and approaches can be utilised for the handling of the drug offender. They are the six traditional theoretical frameworks, the medical model, the rational choice model, the justice model, the modern rehabilitation philosophy and the new penological perspective. Often they are not suitable in their entirety, but elements thereof are of value for the effective treatment and rehabilitation of the drug offender. A greater knowledge of the relationship between drug offenders, drug abuse and the resulting criminal activity is necessary prior to attempting rehabilitation. It is important that the offender fully co-operate and that any change undergone should be in the interest of his / her health and well-being. The new penological perspective differs from the traditional approaches in that it does not design penal measures for the particular needs of either individuals or groups but rather sorts individuals into groups according to the degree of control warranted by their risk profiles. It does not aim to punish offenders or rehabilitate them, but rather focuses on the management of unruly groups of individuals from a managerial perspective.
When working with the drug offender it is necessary to design appropriate and effective intervention and treatment methods to reduce the use of psychoactive substances. Treatment and rehabilitation programmes offered by the criminal justice system should focus on assisting the drug offender to develop "a productive lifestyle" and deter him / her from a criminal lifestyle.
Author W. LuytSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 88 –107 (2003)More Less
Harm reduction originated as a framework for dealing with substance use and abuse (Riley 1993 : 1) and has gained impetus over the past decade because of the spread of AIDS. Although general belief has it that HIV is spread through sexual contact, injection drug use has become one of the primary risk factors for HIV infection (Inciardi & Harrison 2000 : 2). Harm reduction, therefore, began as a strategy to intervene in injection drug use communities to allow drug users to adopt risk reduction practices that prevent the spread of HIV. As a front-runner in terms of incarceration, America declared war on drugs during the late 1980s. Drug-related offences ignited an explosion in prison population growth. According to Schmalleger and Smykla (2001 : 325) the number of American inmates who needed substance abuse treatment rose from 688 000 in 1993 to 840 000 in 1996.
Lately, South Africa has become one of the lucrative new drug markets of the world. Drug use increased in public as well as in institutional settings. The number of people arrested in South Africa for dealing in hard drugs like cocaine rose from 15 in 1995 to 75 in 1997 (Volksblad 2001 : 1). According to the findings in a study by the University of Cape Town (Mans 2000 : 12) Grade 11 pupils spent more than 22 million rands on mandrax, dagga (marijuana), alcohol and cigarettes in 1999 alone. At the same time the country's struggling with the high incidence of HIV behind bars. The discussion about harm and risk reduction aims at giving perspective of the role of prisons in this particular area.
A comparative analysis of learners' perceptions regarding substance abuse in two Tshwane public schoolsSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 108 –124 (2003)More Less
This article deals with the results of a survey undertaken during 2001 at two Tshwane schools in order to identify key concerns regarding illegal drugs and related matters, and to make information available to legitimate and interested stakeholders in order to establish partnerships for the development of problem-solving strategies. The central hypothesis addresses the learners' opinions on drug-free schools. In the case of both schools the null hypothesis was accepted at the expense of the alternative hypothesis.
It was established that the overwhelming majority of learners who had no knowledge as to whether their school was drug-free or not, also expressed ignorance pertaining to the knowledge of drug selling in their school. This was also the case when learners were asked to express their view regarding the illegal drug problem in their respective schools. Additionally it was revealed that more learners had witnessed drugs being sold in their neighbourhood than drugs sold in their schools or on school grounds. It is noteworthy that almost one-third of learners in school A who perceived their school as being non-drug-free, also had knowledge of peers in their school who were selling illegal drugs, whereas among school B respondents only 11, 5 percent expressed similar views. Furthermore it was revealed that one-quarter of the learners who viewed school A as being drug-free, also knew of pupils who sold illegal drugs at their school, while almost 30 percent among learners of school B who perceived their school as being non-drug-free assumed likewise.
Ten principles that foster the creation of a protective school and can be applied by educators, school administrators, policy makers, community leaders, and parents are also suggested. Ultimately logic should dictate that the appropriate information ought to be conveyed to the authorities in order to enable them to promote the quest for drug-free schools.
Youth violence : an analysis of selected aetiological pathways in a sample of South African high-school malesSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 125 –137 (2003)More Less
High levels of interpersonal violence - including common assault, aggravated assault, and murder - have been noted in recent studies of South African high school males. Attempts to account for these high levels of violence have focused on three broad categories of causal factors : (a) the desensitizing effects of exposure to community violence, (b) the role played by poverty and social disruption in the aetiology of violence, and (c) personal characteristics as mediators of violent behaviour.
In an attempt to systematically explore the aetiological significance of each of the categories of causal factors mentioned above, structured questionnaires were administered to a sample of 561 high school males (aged 16 to 25 years) attending government schools in the Durban greater metropolitan area. Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported a history of interpersonal violence, with eight percent of respondents indicating that they had killed a person. The severity of both individual and group violence was found to positively correlate with the extent of exposure to community violence. Respondents who reported a history of interpersonal violence were more likely to endorse statements reflecting pro-violence attitudes, with individuals who committed violence in a group context reporting attitudes to violence which were more extreme than those reported by individuals who acted alone. Contrary to expectation, respondents' socio-economic status was not significantly predictive of violent behaviour.
Further research is needed in order to assess the extent to which the obtained findings can be generalised to samples drawn from different social groups and from different geographical areas. Such research should ideally employ longitudinal designs and should be directed at attempts to : (a) Identify mechanisms and processes which account for the relationship between aetiological influences and violent outcomes, (b) explore the dynamic temporal relationship between aetiological influences and violent outcomes, and (c) address the much neglected issue of victim resilience.
Author C.W. MaraisSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 138 –150 (2003)More Less
Crime affects the life of all South Africans. Reducing crime and building safer communities must be a priority, not only for the government, but for all of us. Government policy and legislation urge local governments to take the lead in implementing crime prevention programmes and to introduce Metro Police Services where possible. One can, however, question the feasibility of such a policy as it implies that several organisations should work together, which always comes at a price.
In the State of the Nation Address in 2002, President Mbeki noted that the government remains "very conscious of the fact that the safety and security of all our people is a fundamental right and a critical element in our efforts to improve the quality of life of all our people" (Pelser 2001 : 23). One way of improving the quality of life of all our people is the establishment of Metropolitan (Metro) Police Services.
We are all aware of the financial implications when it comes to policing and especially crime prevention, hence the question : Is the price too high? According to Normann (2000 : 161), the relationship between producer and client in service - and knowledge - orientated businesses is usually complex, and as a result pricing tends to assume several important functions apart from simply putting a price tag on such services.
In order to be able to attach a price tag to policing, the author analysed the crime situation in South Africa from 1990 until 1998. Special emphasis was placed on the occurrence of violent crimes such as assault, murder, rape, robbery and farm attacks, property-related crimes such as housebreaking, motor vehicle theft, theft out of motor vehicles, other thefts, and violence aimed at property such as arson and malicious damage to property. The statistics obtained for these crimes were also analysed in relation to population (per 100 000 of the population).
In order to provide a holistic picture of policing, the author analysed both the SAPS and the Metropolitan Police Services as well as the public perceptions with regard to their effectiveness and efficiency in our country.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 151 –164 (2003)More Less
The aim of this study was exploratory and to acquire descriptive information from learners to assist schools with the assessment of dagga-related problems. The sample consisted of a total of 2003 learners from 35 schools in the N-3 district (now district 4) in Tshwane. Most of the respondents were female learners (56.6%) while males constituted 43.4 percent of the sample. Of the respondents, 5.4 percent were from Grade 7, and 42.5 percent and 52.1 percent respectively from Grades 10 and 11. Most of the pupils were black (41.7%), followed by whites (37.9%), Indian (10.7%) and coloureds (9.7%). The survey was conducted in the first semester of 2000.
Results indicated that a substantial percentage (33.6%) of the group admitted to smoking dagga before. More than one-third (35.0%) of those respondents who answered in the affirmative, started to use dagga before the age of twelve years. Almost three-quarters (74.1%) of the dagga smokers in the group cited friends as the reason they started. The influence of siblings (31.9%) was given as another important reason for starting to use dagga. A considerable number of learners who had not tried dagga credited themselves (84.2%) and their parents (67.4%) for their decision. The significance of this finding is that parents have a huge influence over their children's decisions.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 16, pp 165 –180 (2003)More Less
Children with disabilities who are vicitimsed can be regarded as the forgotten victims of the community and the criminal justice system. Disabled children are more likely to be abused than children without disabilities. According to research (Howe 2000 : 41; Nettelbeck, Wilson, Potter & Perry 2000 : 46, 56; Sherry 2000 : 1; Sobsey, Randall & Perrila, 1997 : 707) children with disabilities experience physical and sexual assault and robbery at rates almost three times those reported by non-disabled children of the community. Myths and misconceptions regarding handicapped children are responsible for uninformed opinions such as : disabled children are not subjected to sexual assault, no one will harm a handicapped child, or that no one will find a disabled child attractive (Kvam 2000 : 1073). One of the major problems connected with knowing of disabled children's experiences is the lack of well-researched evidence. Accurate data on the incidence and prevalence of child abuse in families is not easy to come by. It is contended that a good deal of abuse is not reported to official agencies, such as the police or social services departments, and therefore does not appear on official registers (Bernard 1999 : 327). This paper examines crimes perpetrated against children with disabilities and is one of various research projects identified and researched by the Family Violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) (Johannesburg) and the Institute for Criminological Science, Unisa.