Challenges that offenders face upon release that contribute to recidivism in the Department of Correctional Services: a case study of the West Coast Medium ' A' Correctional Centre in the Western Cape
Samuels, Jerome Alex
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Recidivism, the tendency to revert to crime upon release from prison, seems to be an uncontrollable phenomenon as inmates keep on re-offending, which impacts negatively on the already overcrowded correctional centres in South Africa. Life in prison is harsh and overpopulation leads to numerous communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other sexuality transmitted infections. Offenders participate in various rehabilitation programmes during their incarceration. However, the challenge is to sustain these rehabilitation efforts after their discharge from prison. Offenders released into society face numerous obstacles such as the need for employment, food, shelter, and the stigma of having been imprisoned. The community is reluctant to receive perpetrators back into society after their release from prison. Consequently, ex-offenders struggle to find employment because of this stigma, which often translates into family break-ups. They are then expected to invent new ways of making a living and surviving without any help from society; in, they resort to crime, which in turn results in recidivism. The research comprises an exploratory study of the challenges that offenders face upon release and which contribute to recidivism in the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). The West Coast Medium ‘A’ Correctional Centre in the Western Cape has been selected as the case study area. Although offenders attend various rehabilitation programmes inside the prison, it has become apparent that upon their release this rehabilitation is not sustained. The qualitative methodology used for this research included semi-structured interviews in order to gather information on the challenges that contribute to recidivism. Offenders, parolees, family members, the Head of Social Reintegration, a social worker, a representative of NICRO, the Chairperson of the Atlantis Community Police Forum, and a spokesperson for SAPS Atlantis were interviewed in order to gather the relevant information.