Community service in Uganda as an alternative to imprisonment: a case study of Masaka and Mukono districts
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Community service as an alternative to imprisonment at its inception was taken up very strongly by the judiciary as part of the reform of the criminal justice system in Uganda. The successful enactment of the Community Service Act, Act no: 5/2000, was an achievement towards the implementation of the programme in the country. However, its implementation as an alternative sentence is currently proceeding at a slow pace. The Ugandan law still allows courts to exercise their discretionary powers with regard to either using prison sentences or community service. Courts still seem to prefer to use imprisonment irrespective of the nature of the offence, thus leading to unwarranted government expenditure and prison overcrowding. An additional problem is that some offenders come out of prison having been negatively affected by their interaction with even more serious offenders. This study was undertaken to establish whether community service as an alternative to imprisonment can be effective with regard to reducing recidivism and to accelerating reconciliation and reintegration of minor offenders back into their communities.