Juvenile pre-sentence investigations in the criminal justice system

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dc.contributor.author Shabangu, Athalia Phindile
dc.date.accessioned 2008-07-23T11:05:19Z
dc.date.available 2008-07-23T11:05:19Z
dc.date.issued 2008-07-23T11:05:19Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/824
dc.description.abstract Juvenile Offending is widely believed to be on the increase judging by the growing number of convictions of young offenders in Gauteng Province. Policy and legislation has been renewed to uphold the rights of the child and to provide more humane intervention plans for children in conflict with the law. Appropriate sentencing of young people in conflict with the law remains a significant challenge in the South African Criminal Justice System. The Probation Services Act (Act 116 of 1991) provides for the appointment of probation officers who are responsible for screening, assessing and referring persons awaiting trial. After young offenders are convicted of a crime, a probation officer is required to conduct a pre-sentence investigation and write a pre-sentence report to assist the Magistrates and Judges in making appropriate sentencing decisions. This study aims to assess the usefulness of probation officers / pre-sentence reports in sentencing decisions concerning young offenders in the Criminal Justice System. Probation services are overloaded and understaffed and many social workers have not had adequate training in working in this field. These factors may compromise the quality of the pre-sentence investigation and the consideration of sentencing options. The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of probation officers’ reports in sentencing young offenders in the Criminal Justice System. A representative sample of fifteen magistrates from Johannesburg Courts and the surrounding areas including a judge from the High Court was used for this study. The findings indicated that all the respondents were involved and experienced in sentencing young offenders. ii From the findings of the study, it can be concluded that most of the respondents found the probation officer’s reports useful in terms of the purpose of the pre-sentence investigations, understanding the young offender in his / her family, community and socio-economic and cultural context; the criminal history and profile of the young offender; the probation officer’s evaluation and assessment; and the consideration of appropriate sentencing options. With regard to suggestions to improve the probation officers’ reports the following was suggested by some of the respondents: - - Reports should be compiled and presented to court in time. - A workshop involving probation officers, prosecutors, magistrates and other service providers for young offenders needs to be done. - Probation officers should communicate with the prosecutors so that they get knowledge of the court proceedings regarding the trial. - Probation officers should look at the docket that carries the information regarding the young offender. - If a young offender is detained in a detention centre, probation officers should visit them frequently in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs they are exposed to, for sentencing purposes. The research design was qualitative in nature and an interview schedule was completed for the purpose of data collection. iii The results of this study indicated that the probation officer’s report is useful. The majority of the respondents stated that the probation officer’s report met their expectations. However, not all of them had suggestions regarding guidelines to improve pre-sentence reports, as the existing one covers all the necessary aspects. en
dc.description.sponsorship Prof. L. Patel en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Juvenile delinquents en
dc.subject Probation officers en
dc.subject Criminal procedure en
dc.subject Gauteng (South Africa) en
dc.title Juvenile pre-sentence investigations in the criminal justice system en
dc.type Thesis en

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