Factors that influence adult recidivism: An exploratory study in Pollsmoor prison

Gaum, Goudine; Hoffman, Sandy; Venter, J. H.
June 2006
South African Journal of Psychology;Jun2006, Vol. 36 Issue 2, p407
Academic Journal
Available statistics on recidivism in South Africa are severely limited, but estimates indicate that it is unacceptably high. This study uses data from the case files of two psychologists working in the Department of Correctional Services at Pollsmoor Prison, Cape Town, to describe the incidence, possible reasons for, and treatment of, recidivism. In addition, qualitative data in the form of transcripts of focus group interviews and semi-structured interviews are used to analyse the experiences and perceptions of inmates who have returned to prison on more than one occasion. The analysis suggests that prison behaviour is not an indicator of successful rehabilitation; rehabilitation interventions are often provided too late; learning to trust is important for rehabilitation, as is a shift from external to internal locus of control and learning to control emotions; drug abuse is a bad indicator for rehabilitation; and many rehabilitation programmes still focus on process rather than results. On the basis of these findings, it is recommended that half-way houses should be established; that there should be greater focus on inmate empowerment; that constancy of services and increased human resources should be provided; and that further research should be conducted into recidivism in South Africa.


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