n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The application of restorative justice amongst sentenced offenders in an Eastern Cape correctional centre : a South African case study

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Formal criminal justice approaches and the systems linked to them are mostly retributive since its inception. In these approaches there is a strong focus on the crime committed, but hardly any focus on the offender, apart from using previous convictions to impose an even harsher sentence for the current crime. The victim is rarely considered in retributive justice, and neither forgiveness nor healing receives any prominence. Yet, forgiveness forms a core part of healing. It is not only the victim who benefits from it, but also the offender. Bringing about forgiveness and healing by means of the justice system became known as restorative justice. The concept is often applied before offenders are sentenced and entails reparation, but rarely does restorative justice play a prominent role after sentencing has taken place. Restorative justice may create opportunities for healing outside the sentencing paradigm, but within the criminal justice system. This occurs through the involvement of victims and sentenced offenders in a mediation process, after the offender has already completed a substantial part of the sentence. The research discussed in this article emanates from an effort to reconcile victims and sentenced offenders at an opportune moment in the post-conviction stage after a substantial part of the sentence has already been completed. The external mediation team are from an academic institution where criminal justice matters are researched. This approach is unique in South Africa (but not necessarily in the rest of the world) and holds promise for the promotion of more extensive restorative justice practices in future. There is indeed a growing need for more restorative justice approaches, as seen from recent South African parole decisions.

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