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Sentencing in the New South Africa: the prospects for reform

Hutton, N. (1997) Sentencing in the New South Africa: the prospects for reform. International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 25 (4). pp. 315-335. ISSN 0194-6595

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Abstract

This paper is an attempt to map out the current state of sentencing in South Africa and to consider the prospects for reform. Bottoms (1995) has identified a number of themes which have accompanied sentencing reforms in a number of Western jurisdictions. These are: a managerialist ethos in public services which emphasizes efficiency and value for money in service delivery, the rhetorical use of the concept of 'community' as both a site and an agency for crime control and the delivery of punishment, the just deserts approach to punishment which advocates allocating punishment proportionately according to the seriousness of the offence rather than on the basis of the character or needs of the offender and finally public punitiveness which refers to the political response to the apparent demand from 'the public' for tougher punishment. These themes have combined to produce different patterns of sentencing reform in different jurisdictions.