Al­ter­na­tives to jail time for driv­ing of­fend­ers

CityPress - - News -

Drunken driv­ers can avoid a prison sen­tence or fine and opt to sub­ject them­selves to a be­havioural change pro­gramme.

The Na­tional In­sti­tute for Crime Preven­tion and the Rein­te­gra­tion of Of­fend­ers (Ni­cro) is of­fer­ing pro­grammes that can be used by courts as an al­ter­na­tive to im­pris­on­ment.

The pro­grammes are de­signed to im­prove the of­fender’s aware­ness of the dan­gers and con­se­quences of drunken driv­ing as well as reck­less and neg­li­gent driv­ing.

They in­clude coun­selling and the Road Of­fences Panel Pro­gramme (ROPP), a be­havioural and psy­cho-ed­u­ca­tional pro­gramme that helps of­fend­ers to ad­dress the be­hav­iours that caused them to drive while in­tox­i­cated in the first place.

“Drunken driv­ing is a very se­ri­ous of­fence and of­fend­ers are of­ten sen­tenced to di­rect im­pris­on­ment,” said Ni­cro CEO So­raya Solomon.

“How­ever, the ROPP al­lows suit­able of­fend­ers to par­tic­i­pate in pro­grammes and carry out their sen­tences in the com­mu­nity.

“Of­fend­ers can be re­ferred to Ni­cro through two chan­nels. The first chan­nel is af­ter be­ing found guilty and sen­tenced – such of­fend­ers will then have a crim­i­nal record – or they are re­ferred pre­trial or through adult di­ver­sion, and then do not have a crim­i­nal record,” she ex­plained.

Solomon said Ni­cro be­lieved in­car­cer­a­tion was not the best op­tion for of­fend­ers who had been con­victed of drunken driv­ing.

“Not only does sit­ting be­hind bars with­out struc­tured re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in­ter­ven­tions do noth­ing to change a per­son’s be­hav­iour, but also, be­ing locked up with hard­ened crim­i­nals who ex­hibit ex­treme crim­i­nal be­hav­iour and thought pat­terns hardly serves as an en­cour­age­ment to change be­hav­iour,” she said.

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