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The National Development Plan (NDP) highlights the need for government to ensure that all people in South Africa are and feel safe. The NDP also emphasises that public confidence in the criminal justice system (CJS) is the most effective deterrent to criminality. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) works closely with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).

Until 1990, the two departments functioned as one entity. In late 1990, government announced that it planned to introduce extensive reforms in the prison system. The Prison Service was separated from the Department of Justice and renamed as the DCS. This triggered important changes to prison legislation. An important milestone in this period was the introduction of the concept of dealing with certain categories of offenders within the community rather than inside prison – a system known as non-custodial “correctional supervision”. This was introduced as a more cost-effective way of dealing with offenders and a response to overcrowding, as well as dealing with prisoners in a way more suited to the country’s prioritisation of human rights. In 2014, the two department were merged to become the Department of Justice and Correctional services on a ministerial level, yet still functioning as seperate departments in practice as well as when reporting in official capacity and in legislative terms.

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