n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Background to a replicative study of violent offenders in South Africa

Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



In the period 1993-94, the first two authors conducted a research project involving a group of violent young offenders imprisoned in England. The sample comprised approximately one-third of those in the custodial population, sentenced as juveniles for offences which, had they been adults, could have attracted a sentence of fourteen years or more. It was the aim of the present study to carry out a pilot project in South Africa, focussing on the backgrounds of young men serving sentences for similar types of offences in order to establish the feasibility of a more substantive study, which would provide some insight into background factors of juveniles committing violent offences in South Africa and offer some recommendations regarding handling and treatment. Using a structured questionnaire, similar to that employed in England, interviews were conducted with a total of 25 violent young offenders in two prisons in South Africa. Thus the methodology for the research was similar to that used in the English study, and similar theoretical assumptions were made about the relevance of key background factors. One of the purposes of the pilot study was to begin forming a view of the applicability of the theoretical models developed in England to the South African situation. The framework of the English study will, therefore, now be described.

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