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Trends in the prison population of South Africa are reviewed and reveal that as of the end of March 2001, the Department of Correctional Services reported a total prison population of 170,959 prisoners, with cell accommodations for 102,048 prisoners. The next section examines the community corrections system in South Africa, which offers two basic alternatives to incarceration: correctional supervision and parole supervision. The conditions to which parolees and probationers may be subjected and the consequences for noncompliance are enumerated, followed by a discussion of the high case loads of community corrections staff. The ratio of staff to probationer/parolee reached 1 to 34 in 2000/20001. Despite these problems, community-based sanctions are more cost-effective than incarceration in South Africa. Other available community-based alternatives to incarceration in South Africa are presented and include alternative sanctions at the pre-trial stage, the sentencing stage, and the post-sentencing stage. Alternative sanctions at the pre-trial stage include pre-trial services and diversion programs; the sentencing stage alternatives include fines, community service orders, and suspended sentences; the post-sentencing alternative is a provision that the National Council may recommend that any prisoners or group of prisoners may be placed under Community Corrections. Next, the background, definition, practices, and processes of restorative justice are presented, followed by an analysis of the advantages of community-based sanctions. Advantages include the ability to keep the family unit together; the retention of the employment and economic contributions of the offender, and the enhancement of rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. Community-based sanctions should be enhanced to reduce the prison population and gain community support in rehabilitating offenders. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Servvice,

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