A criminological investigation into the South African correctional services approach towards offenders' rehabilitation: a case study of the Westville Correctional Centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
Murhula, Bashizi Bashige.
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The South African Department of Correctional Services has a constitutional mandate to provide rehabilitation programmes that address offenders’ criminal conducts. The rehabilitation approach currently used to deliver this mandate is grounded on the needs-based model where dynamic factors associated with recidivism are systematically targeted in the treatment of offenders’ criminal behaviours. But the reality of the matter is that there are systemic problems that challenge the Department of Correctional Services both conveying its moral messaging and fulfilling its legal commitment to the rehabilitation of offenders. It is alleged from the media reports that South Africa still has one of the highest crimes and recidivism rates in the world. The high crime rate in South Africa created a “rush to incarcerate”, but little attention has been paid to its rehabilitation approach. When offenders re-offend, they are frequently blamed, yet ineffective implementation of rehabilitation programmes is rarely considered to be at fault. This study, therefore, aimed to investigate the South African rehabilitation approach at the Westville Correctional Centre. A literature study aimed at describing essential information related to the study and theories applied in designing rehabilitation programmes was expounded. Thereafter an empirical investigation was conducted. Qualitative research methodology was employed, and a case study research design was utilised. Purposeful non-probability sampling was utilised to involve inmates and Westville Correctional Centre personnel in the study. Thirty inmates and twenty Westville Correctional Centre officials who met the inclusion criteria for the study were selected to participate. Semi-structured interview schedule and focus groups were used to collect data during the empirical investigation. Through analysing the results, the findings of this study demonstrated that the Department of Correctional Services mission is far to be accomplished due to its failure to implement rehabilitation programmes. Data generated in this study indicates that the approaches used in implementing rehabilitation strategies may not be well comprehended by the officers. Furthermore, the issue of overcrowding at the Westville Correctional Centre is the major factor inhibiting successful implementation of needs-based care rehabilitation programmes. Besides overcrowding problem, the Westville Correctional Centre structure does not allow for offices for professionals to implement rehabilitation programmes. The research study, therefore, recommends that if correctional centres in South Africa is to have any success in reducing re-offending, then a critical review of the strategy meant to achieve this goal is required. International literature has proven that the implementation of effective rehabilitation programmes can reduce reoffending and can be more cost-effective than other forms of sanctions.