Parole, release and restorative justice: Minister and National Council for Correctional Services
The meeting provided an opportunity for the Portfolio Committee (PC) to engage with the Minister and the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS) on matters of parole and release, with particular emphasis on the position of those sentenced to life imprisonment (lifers) and the role of the restorative justice processes.
Child Justice Act undercut from within
Even before it began the rocky climb through the parliamentary process, the Child Justice Bill was considered to be internationally path-breaking legislation. It was born in the euphoria of the early 1990s in a country where youth had been considered politically lethal, whipping was a sentence, imprisonment the standard response to wrongdoing and torture considered a legitimate interrogation method.
The new legislation sought to provide restorative justice by diverting child offenders from this punitive justice system and keeping them out of prisons, which simply hardened criminality. It devised ways to work with offenders and victims to restore harmony in the community where the crime took place. Punishment would be tailored to the crime and dealt in a way that maintained the self-respect of the offender as well as the approval of both community and victim.
Request for assistance regarding a South African case
from Ann Skelton:
Mike Batley and I are currently working on a Constitutional Court case in South Africa in which we are arguing that the civil justice system has not kept pace with developments in the criminal justice system to encourage more restorative justice approaches.
The case in point is a civil claim for damages for defamation of character by a school teacher against school pupils who manufactured a naughty (but funny from an adolescent perspective) picture of him by pasting his head on the body of a gay wrestler. The picture was on the school notice board for 30 minutes, and some children in the school also received the image via their cell phones.
The children were punished in school (5 detentions + honours colours taken away), were charged criminally and were diverted (they completed 56 hours of community service at the zoo), they attempted to apologise, and have now been successfully sued through the civil justice system to pay damages. They now appeal to the Constitutional Court. Their main arguments have to do with Freedom of expression and 'jest' as a defence, but the Restorative Justice Centre is entering as amicus curiae to make various points about restorative justice.
Effects of crime on kids underestimated
...."The significance of this study was to capture unreported cases of crime and victimisation against young people," she said.
Leoschut said the study found that different types of crimes led to distinct forms of post-traumatic stress disorder among youths.
"A lot of them suffer from psychological stress and become more aggressive after being victimised."