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Functioning of the Criminologist in the South African Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Acta Criminologica Volume: 19 Issue: 1 Dated: 2006 Pages: 127-136
M. Ovens
Date Published
10 pages
This paper explores the various functions and roles that the criminologist can fulfill within the South African Criminal Justice System.
Criminology is relevant in South Africa and has relevance to real world criminal justice policy. The inputs from the criminologist can alleviate the overburdened system through the facilitation of effective processing of offenders; they can assist in the imposition of suitable sentences through their recommendation of individualized sentences; and they can further give input into the effective rehabilitation and treatment of offenders. The criminologist should be regarded as a useful and objective assistant to the presiding officer. The South African Criminal Justice System is riddled with problems that make it difficult for the functionaries in the system to deal with the number of offenders who are processed. Initially criminologists merely focused on the behavior of offenders. In South Africa, the use of criminologists in the criminal justice system is in its infancy. There has been a call for wider involvement of criminologists and penologists within the sentencing phase, as well as involvement in correctional facilities and community corrections. Criminology in South Africa must shift the emphasis from the accumulation of research findings to the development of a system for the dissemination of known facts and the promotion of sensible policies based on that knowledge. Practical levels of functioning include victim support initiatives, debriefing of victims of crime, and assisting functionaries in the criminal justice system, such as the police, the judiciary, and the Department of Correctional Services. References