A study on leadership in the implementation of non-custodial sentencing by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Correctional Services
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Overcrowding in prisons is a global phenomenon that undermines efforts by prison or correctional system officials to rehabilitate offenders so that they can be successfully reintegrated into society. Overcrowding in South African correctional facilities has been identified as a key challenge, which negatively affects the ability of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ & CD) and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) firstly, to guarantee the rights of inmates and secondly, to create an environment that is conducive for rehabilitation. The legislation and statutory framework outline the options available to both South African courts and Correctional Officers for imposing non-custodial sentencing. Non-custodial sentencing can be imposed on: (a) offenders found guilty by courts of law and given noncustodial sentencing; and (b) offenders already in custody who are eligible for parole or correctional community supervision, in accordance with the dictates of applicable legislation. However, despite the visible gains and benefits provided for within the South African legal framework and statutory books on alternative sentencing, South African prisons continue to be overcrowded. Studies show that in the last 15 years South African correctional facilities have not experienced a situation whereby its population was below 120%. This study aims to explore the role of leadership in the implementation of non-custodial sentencing and subsequent reduction in overcrowding within the correctional facilities. Following a qualitative research approach, the researcher conducted interviews with executive leaders and operational managers of the three Western Cape management areas to determine the role of leaders in the implementation of non-custodial sentencing. In total five (5) executive leaders and ten (10) operational managers were interviewed. The findings showed that there is a need for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ & CD) and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to have a structured approach with regard to the implementation of non-custodial sentencing when dealing with problems that affect overcrowding, including the implementation of non-custodial sentences by the leadership of the DOJ & CD and the DCS.