n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - A penological perspective on rehabilitation as a sentencing aim

Volume 30 Number 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


The forms of punishment utilised by the criminal justice system are designed to control behaviours in a variety of ways. Imprisonment as one of the sanctions used by the courts has a noticeable impact on human life. Imprisonment is not only focused on removing the offender from society but also plays a role in rehabilitating the offender. The belief that offending behaviour can and should be changed has a huge impact on the day-to-day administration of the criminal justice system. It is generally accepted that reform or reformation or rehabilitation is one of the valid purposes of punishment. This contribution considers the arguments in favour of using reformation as sentencing object, and those that argue that it cannot be. For the purpose of this contribution a questionnaire was distributed to a total of 31 judicial officers in the jurisdiction of the Thohoyandou High Court, Thohoyandou Regional Office and the Sibasa Regional Court. As is often the case in human endeavours, the answer is rarely completely simple. Throughout the contribution the following distinction should be kept in mind: (1) reform as an object or purpose of sentencing; and (2) reform as a consideration in the execution of punishment. In the case of (1) the roleplayers are the courts and their task is to impose sentence. In the case of (2) the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is the role player, and its task is to execute the sentence.

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