This long anticipated decision promises the enhanced implementation of restorative justice processes in dealing with child offenders.
NICRO has in fact always maintained and demonstrated that children who do not pose a threat to society do not belong in prison. Through proper assessment, young offenders will be evaluated to determine which individual and social pathology is a feature in their circumstances, in order to implement the appropriate programme intervention.
NICRO has been at the forefront of developing and implementing restorative justice principles in its services; so much so that the practice has preceded the legislation.
Diversion of young offenders, who do not pose a threat to society, was pioneered by NICRO in Pietermaritzburg in1996 in collaboration with Lawyers for Human Rights.
This restorative justice approach is practiced throughout South Africa with astounding results. NICRO annually diverts approximately 16,000 children away from the criminal justice system in order to give them a second chance. Research has shown that 91% of youths who complete the programme don’t go back to crime. A study revealed that in the 10 years from 1997 to 2006 Diversion programmes have been offered to 148,545 children in total.
The escalation of youth crime is a crisis for all concerned. NICRO believes in the proactive approach to crime prevention and the re-generation of value systems within society. As such the plight of afflicted youth has to be addressed in the appropriate restorative manner and not in a destructive way, which will demoralise and destroy the
fibre of potential recovery of an individual.
The Bill will secure a comprehensive implementation of child justice; offering a chance to restore and rebuild the child to accept the responsibility to be a law-abiding citizen contributing to create a safe country.
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