n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Different route, same destination? Assessing the (r)evolution of offender reform in South Africa twenty years into democracy

Special Edition 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The history of the correctional system in South Africa has been characterised by the use of correctional facilities as dumping sites for unwelcome citizens of society. This has included severe punishment of offenders in the form of hard labour and torture. However, with the inception of democracy in the 1990s, changes started to take place within the correctional system to ensure its alignment with the Constitution of the country. A well-functioning correctional system is a crucial element of a civilised society, which means that those released from incarceration must be able to make the transition back into the community and adjust to life outside of corrections. Therefore, the respect of offenders' dignity and rehabilitation are central to all correctional services activities. In this article, the advances that have been made with regard to rehabilitation and offenders' rights and the treatment of inmates over the past 20 years of South Africa's democracy are examined. However, evidence indicating whether the South African correctional system is committed to rehabilitation as a key philosophical and operational goal is inconclusive or rather ambiguous.

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