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Non-custodial sentences can be more effective options than prison

Categories: ALL THE NEWS , Offenders and Ex-offenders rehabilitation

The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) has been rendering offender reintegration services since 1910.
One of our services is non-custodial sentencing (NCS), where an offender is sentenced to receive mandatory behavioural services in the community. This is an alternative to serving the sentence in prison.  NCS is a better option for lower risk offenders, as it keeps them out of jail and away from higher risk offenders. Here is a short story to illustrate what NCS is about.

Mike (not his real name) was referred to NICRO by a magistrate to receive non-custodial sentencing services. Mike is 36 years old and was convicted of assaulting his mother’s boyfriend and damaging his property.
During the assessment, it was observed that Mike had irrational beliefs that his mother was still responsible for providing for him and meeting his basic needs. Conflict was experienced at home as Mike did not want to do anything to assist his mother, but felt she must support him financially.  At that stage he was unemployed.
He also complained about his younger brother, who is unemployed and being supported by his mother. The social worker conducted a home visit and found that the younger brother was mentally disabled and thus unable to work.

Mike was equipped with knowledge to assist his brother in applying for a disability grant. The brother received the first grant during July 2011.

Mike attended individual sessions weekly for two months. The individual sessions focused on how to manage his anger, be more assertive, the negative effects and consequences of alcohol and dagga, how to restore relationships and how to be able to communicate effectively. 
During a follow up session three months later, Mike reported that he felt very proud of himself. He told the social worker that he has completed the SAFA Grassroots Course for coaching educators and has been appointed as a coach of the under 17’s local metro soccer team.

He told the NICRO social worker that he and his mother had worked things out and are now able to communicate effectively and openly with each other. He is currently building two backrooms in his mother’s yard, where he will live more independently.

Mike learned to stand up for himself and to take responsibility for himself. His relationship with his mother has improved and he now understands that she is not responsible for him.
Mike’s whole life has changed for the better by receiving a non-custodial sentence.  If Mike had been sent to prison, he would not have received the one-on-one work that he needed to identify and address his thinking and behavioural problems. He would have been released after a few months and would have returned to the same situation without support and advice.

Mike is a good example of how non-custodial sentences can be more effective options than prison. During February 2013, his first daughter was born. He is very proud and told the social worker to share the good news with the rest of NICRO.

To date, NICRO has provided services to 4 708 offenders since the project started in 2008.

Visit our website to learn more about what we do: www.nicro.org.za

Regan Jules-Macquet
Project Manager

Tel: 021 462 0017 • Fax: 021 462 2447
  
1 Harrington Street, Cape Town, 8001
PO Box 10005, Caledon Square, 7905
SMS word NICRO to 36009 (sms Charged @ R5.00)

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