Offender rehabilitation and reintegration: taking the White Paper on Corrections forward
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Rehabilitation and reintegration, as contemplated on the scale articulated in the White Paper, will indeed require a very careful approach and consideration would have to be given to the major challenges, such as resource constraints, that may effect implementation. This paper is an attempt to describe and highlight some of the key theoretical and research findings on offender rehabilitation to assist in the implementation of the task outlined in the White Paper. It is also a central theme of this paper that offender rehabilitation and reintegration is more complicated than what is often held as “common wisdom” in the field and expressed as simplified linear relationships of cause and effect. Underlying the approach taken in this paper is acceptance of the position that a more punitive approach will not contribute to reducing crime levels, nor will longer prison sentences facilitate rehabilitation. With more than 6 000 sentenced prisoners being released from South African prisons monthly, a planned and rigorous approach is required, if the expectation that rehabilitation will have an impact on crime levels is to be fulfilled. It is of the utmost importance that a strategic approach to the implementation of offender reintegration and rehabilitation be based on scientific knowledge that informs decision-making in relation to the target group, the scale of implementation, definitions of success, and what is regarded as good practice and what is not.