Alternatives to jail time for driving offenders
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.