n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - A penological perspective on the handling of the drug offender : a theoretical approach

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



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.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error