n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - A review of imprisonment and deterrence programmes as a strategy to reduce prison populations

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



This article puts the world prison population into context and focuses on the management of offender growth as well as imprisonment and deterrence as a strategy to reduce crime. Issues such as benefits, costs and risk factors are considered important only if they have a direct impact on criminal activities and crime prevention. The time served in prison should also be examined to determine if the goals of sentencing can be achieved through shorter prison terms for selected offenders. The latter requires the need to address sentencing and parole policies with a multifaceted approach, incorporating an expanded use of alternatives to imprisonment for low-risk offenders, and a commitment to using imprisonment only if other interventions cannot meet the goals of public safety or justice. Parole boards should also be free to consider the use of parole or probation for long-term prisoners who no longer present a threat to public safety. Finally, the stabilisation or reduction of prison populations will only be possible if policymakers recognise that the size and composition of prison populations are a function of a variety of policy choices regarding sentencing, time served in prison and parole supervision practices.

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