n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Role conflict in correctional supervision

Volume 20, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Probation as an alternative to long-term imprisonment calls for the release of an offender to serve his or her sentence in the community, while parole entails the early release from a correctional centre to serve a sentence in the community under the strict supervision of a probation officer. Both types of sentences are thus community-base and, aimed at rehabilitation outside correctional centres (Regoli & Hewitt 1996). Probation and parole (used interchangeably to refer to non-custodial sentences or community correctional supervision), form part of the so-called After-Care Plan of the South African Department of Correctional Services (White Paper 2005). Correctional supervision has, however, not escaped the influence of role conflict which results from the two main functions, namely to enforce conformist behaviour on the part of offenders, and to provide social services to probationers. A sample of 91 correctional supervision officers in KwaZulu-Natal convincingly support the law enforcement style of supervision and the social worker-role proffered by Clear and Latessa (1993). Having expressed a positive attitude towards balancing community safety with offenders' needs and preferences, some respondents are inclined towards integrating the conflicting roles of law enforcer and social worker through the adoption of a synthetic officer-role orientation (Allen et al 1979). It is recommended that a broader survey be conducted to more accurately establish the true impact of role conflict in correctional supervision and, likewise, that multivariate statistical techniques be applied to enhance reliability and validity.

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