Reducing recidivism by church rehabilitation programs
The crime rate in South Africa is high and this causes South Africans to live in fear. In some communities, this leads to community members taking the law into their own hands and those who have committed crimes are punished in their own ways. The high crime rate is one of South Africa’s biggest concerns and people are constantly searching for solutions. Rehabilitation and rehabilitation programs are proven effective, yet there are scholars like Martinson who believe that programs have no effect on the outcome of rehabilitation. However, there is also ample proof that religious rehabilitation programs have a positive effect on offenders still incarcerated and also on those who were released back into the society. The research was based on Osmer’s (2008) practical theological interpretation method that was used in exploring the phenomenon of recidivism of offenders. Osmer used the hermeneutical circle in explaining his four tasks of practical theology interpretations (Osmer, 2008:11). In the descriptive-empirical task: two programs were compared in a case study format to help understand the path these two programs have taken and it was determined that religious rehabilitation programs play a very important role in the lives of the newly admitted offenders and offenders in general. The church has to ensure that these programs are Bible-based prison programs that support and encourage inmates through a process of spiritual and moral transformation, which begin while they are incarcerated and continue after release. In the interpretive task study it was determined that there are not enough skilled persons (ratio of skilled persons to offenders) that can handle the demands of programs the Department of Correctional Services require from them (by skilled persons the researcher means social workers, psychologists, counsellors, ministers and spiritual workers). Hence, due to understaffing and the high demand for programs, it brings about that not enough time is spent on the quality of programs and other needed services that are being rendered and that means that the programs are not always effective. In the normative task the researcher intended to develop a biblical perspective in the rehabilitation of offenders, a perspective on the question: "What ought to be going on?" The answer was that the believers (the church) have the obligation and responsibility to approach those who have fallen with humility and humbleness, without condemning them and helping them with the know-how of how to not stray or fall again. In the pragmatic task we had to bring together "the results of the descriptive-empirical task, the interpretive task and the normative" (Osmer, 2008:11). Thereafter the task was to formulate and enact strategies of action that would influence the effectiveness of religious rehabilitation programs in desirable ways. In compiling these guidelines which had to be considered in the understanding of the effectiveness of religious rehabilitation, it was found that the church has to realise its responsibility towards those incarcerated and start rendering a positive contribution to address the challenges of rehabilitation and recidivism. In this regard the church has to work together holistically with the other professionals (social workers, psychologists and counsellors) in the rehabilitation of the offenders. To ensure the highest outcome of their programs, the church has to evaluate the programs that are being rendered and, in correlation with all role players, assess the progress, and where necessary, institute more effective programs to be developed. It is necessary that the church has to explore the possibility of training offenders in the field of theology in order to act as missionaries and prison ministers to be considered by the churches in order to stop false teachings by those who are rendering services without any training. In this regard the church can provide sound doctrine in the lives of those incarcerated.
- Theology