n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Parole board administrative action : an encroachment on the judicial decisions of the courts of law of South Africa

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The courts of law exercise their judicial authority with independence and impartiality and therefore an order issued by a court may only be altered by another court with higher jurisdiction. When a court convicts a person of a crime, it considers an appropriate punishment, for example a prison sentence, to reach carefully determined objectives aimed at the rehabilitation of the offender. Once sentenced, the offender is placed in the custody of correctional services to serve the sentence imposed. The role of correctional services is to aim at attaining a positive change in the conduct of the offender. A Correctional Supervision and Parole Board, however, has the authority to place a prisoner on parole after considering a profile report on that prisoner. This administrative action is tantamount to an alteration of the trial court's judicial decision on an appropriate sentence. The Correctional Supervision and Parole Board is not part of the court of law structure and its action appears to be in conflict with the indication of the Constitutional Court that a non-judicial official may not encroach upon the functions of a judicial official. The purpose of this article is to focus on the distinct actions and independence of the judiciary and highlight the complexity of the process that the trial court follows before deciding on an appropriate sentence in a particular case. This article also reflects on the question of whether a Correctional Supervision and Parole Board should have such significant authority that it impacts on a court's judicial decision. To sustain the stated question, mention is made of the current challenges that thwart the effective functioning of such a Board. Proposals are made as to a more appropriate role for a Correctional Supervision and Parole Board so that its administrative actions would not be tantamount to an alteration of the trial court's sentence.


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