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Corrective Supervision Sentence for Traffic Offenders - An Evaluative Perspective
Human Science Research Council, Private Bag X41, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa
More than 100 traffic offenders sentenced for driving under the influence who are presently serving the corrective supervision sentence as an alternative to imprisonment, have been evaluated since February 1994 to establish the rehabilitative effect of such a sentence.
The offenders have been evaluated by means of an extensive test battery, measuring personality, attitudes, psychomotor abilities, night vision and trainability. All the test information has been integrated through psychological interviews. This data has been stored in qualitative and quantitative databases to provide information about human behaviour in the traffic environment.
Activities of the multi-disciplinary working groups involved will be explained in more detail at the conference, but the following trends regarding rehabilitation surfaced: First offenders showed the best potential for rehabilitation. After about three repetitions of the same offence, however, the potential for rehabilitation declines rapidly. The rehabilitative programmes and evaluation techniques presently in use, need to be simplified.
Corrective supervision has only been implemented since 1991 in South Africa, but already it seems to provide a better option for learning and rehabilitation for traffic offenders than both imprisonment and the payment of traffic fines.
AIM OF THIS PAPER
This paper aims to describe the results of a research project on the evaluation of traffic offenders doing corrective sentence in order to determine the rehabilitative effect of corrective sentence. The evaluation information of the traffic offenders will form the basis for recommendations to improve corrective sentence for optimal rehabilitation impact, specifically on traffic offenders. To put this project in perspective, the following background information will prove to be useful.
Throughout the decades penal reform in South Africa has been largely motivated by a search for semi-custodial and non-custodial alternatives to short-term imprisonment, (i.e. under two years). Such imprisonment gives rise to dysfunctional consequences and its avoidance, where possible, has been advocated (Avery & Cilliers, 1989). The alternative sentence option includes correctional supervision which means that under certain conditions, offenders could be sentenced to community service under the supervision of a correctional officer (Willemse, 1991). The philosophy behind community based sentences is that rehabilitation of the offender under controlled circumstances can take place more effectively within the community to which he or she belongs (Boon, 1991).
Before 1991 the Department of Correctional Services emphasized the imposition of punishment rather than the rehabilitation of offenders. Due to the negative effect of prison sentences on human behaviour and the indirect harm to the offender's family, as well as the high costs to taxpayers when prison sentences are served, the policy of the Department of Prison Services changed so fundamentally in 1991 that the name of the department was changed to the Department of Correctional Services.
An alternative form of sentencing was introduced at the same time, enabling the courts to sentence a person to community service. The new Department of Correctional Services was now responsible for the administration and implementation of this sentence option. The commissioner could now compile programmes or utilize existing programmes by placing persons under corrective supervision with a view to possible rehabilitation. The law now also made provision for the Department of Correctional Services to oblige a person to do community service (Botes, Mulder & Pretorius, 1993).
Until 1988 distinctive problems were experienced in traffic safety in South Africa, mainly caused by fragmentation and the absence of an integrated policy. With the establishment and introduction of the Traffic Management System in 1991, co-operation in respect of traffic management was initiated on the macro, meso and micro levels. The Traffic Management System is a dynamic system that changes continuously to adapt to changing circumstances and needs. Due to the integrated nature of the Traffic Management System, changes and extensions can be planned, implemented and evaluated on all levels (macro, meso and micro levels) of traffic management to improve the system (Pretorius, 1988).
It is therefore evident that closer co-operation and integration at all levels were initiated in both traffic safety and in the Department of Correctional Services, which resulted in more extensive and more effective services being provided. The multidisciplinary and multidimensional approaches of a systematic and integrated policy produced more profound and more sustained change in terms of human behaviour. Expenditure on such programmes could be monitored and controlled more effectively and could be distributed more equitably between all the relevant parties involved in traffic safety and the Department of Correctional Services (Pretorius & Mulder, 1991).
The Department of Correctional Services approached various institutions, including the Directorate: Traffic Safety and the Human Sciences Research Council for assistance in placing persons under corrective supervision at relevant institutions for community service. By initiating this type of co-operation the Department of Correctional Services considers itself a facilitator in the application of this new system. According to this system an offender is exposed to appropriate corrective programmes, and must complete these programmes successfully. The need for the development of appropriate rehabilitation programmes and the identification of suitable ways of evaluating the effect of the sentence on traffic offenders necessitated this project (Pretorius, 1991).
When the project began in 1993, goals were identified, a provisional management plan was drawn up and working groups were convened at national, provincial and local levels in order to make it possible to implement research proposals. Background studies relating to corrective sentencing, evaluation strategies and batteries of experimental tests for evaluating offenders were compiled (Botes, 1993). The evaluation procedure for traffic offenders is shown in Figure 1.
INITIAL PHASE OF THE PROJECT: JANUARY 1994 TO JUNE 1994
The evaluation teams were trained in January 1994. The first evaluation of traffic offenders who received corrective supervision sentence, started early in February. By the end of June 63 persons had been evaluated. Working groups at national, provincial and local level were actively engaged in the implementation of the sub-management system for traffic offenders who had been sentenced to corrective supervision. Full descriptions of such implementation are continuously updated in the implementation document.
The implementation of the research activities of the corrective supervision project for 1995 has so far taken the following course:
Approximately 130 traffic offenders have already been evaluated. This database will later form part of a database which is currently being established by the multidisciplinary working groups at national, provincial and local level are engaged in an ongoing basis in the different implementation activities forming part of the research process. The working groups mentioned are comprised of various role players and external bodies such as the Department of Transport, the Department of Correctional Services, the Department of Health and Welfare, the Department of Justice, the Directorate of Traffic Safety, the CSIR (a science research institution), traffic officers, the South African Police Service, lawyers and public prosecutors, as well as various private organizations involved in the community service aspect of correctional services.
These working groups meet quarterly or twice a year, depending on the need for information or co-ordination and the course of this particular research process. Although the functions of the working groups overlap to a great extent, the focus of the activities are determined by the level at which the working groups function. The main functional focuses of these working groups on the different levels can be briefly described as follows:
An implementation document containing a detailed discussion of all implementation activities, is kept updated and the latest developments are added to it. In this research the emphasis lies on qualitative descriptions of human behaviour in the traffic situation and the descriptions of the reasons for people committing traffic offenses.
More than 130 traffic offenders sentenced for driving under the influence who are presently serving corrective supervision sentences have been evaluated since February 1994 in order to establish the rehabilitative effect of such a sentence. The offenders have been evaluated by means of an extensive test battery, measuring personality, attitudes, psychomotor abilities, night vision and trainability (see Figure 1). All the test information have been integrated through psychological interviews. This data have been stored in qualitative and quantitative databases to provide information about human behaviour in the traffic environment. The following trends regarding rehabilitation surfaced:
The existing assessment instruments and training programmes need to be simplified for maximum relevancy and impact in the South African context. Assessment information of each traffic offender should be available in the courts before sentencing. More first time traffic offenders should receive corrective supervision to improve prognoses for rehabilitation. Corrective supervision has only been implemented since 1991 in South Africa, but already seems to provide a better option for learning and rehabilitation of traffic offenders than both imprisonment and the payment of traffic fines. It simply offers a more cost effective, human orientated solution for reducing traffic offence problems.
Avery, M.B. & Cilliers, C.H. 1989. Community service sentence within a pennological perspective. Acta Criminologica. 2(1): 42-51.
Boon, M. 1991. Gemeenskapsdiens as vonnisopsie. Welfare Focus. 26(1): 22-26.
Botes, G.; Mulder, F.S. & Pretorius, H.B. 1993. Management plan for the corrective sentence for traffic offenders. Preliminary Report. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council.
Botes, G. 1993. Implementation document for the corrective sentence for traffic offenders. Preliminary Report. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council.
Pretorius, H.B. 1988. On managing the traffic safety system: a multidisciplinary approach. MSc (Eng) (Civil) Dissertation, Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand.
Pretorius, H.B. & Muller, F.S. 1991. Die ontwikkeling van 'n padverkeerveiligheidsbestuurstelsel vir die RSA: finale verslag. Pretoria: WNNR.
Pretorius, H.B. 1991. Oortredingsbestuurstelsel. Verslag RC/92/197. Pretoria, Departement van Vervoer.
Willemse, W. 1991. Correctional supervision as alternative. RSA Policy Review. 4(6): 28-39.
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