A Study on Conflict Resolution workshops in Western Cape prisons

Bachelor Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This paper is a study on conflict resolution workshops in Western Cape prisons. Internationally, there has been much focus on conflict resolution workshops targeting prison inmates. The prison context is seen as an ultra-violent and dangerous one, and part of the focus of the workshops is to reduce the violence within the prisons. Another objective is, in effect, to reduce the violence outside of prisons, by decreasing the recidivism (re-offending) rates of offenders. Many of these workshops are run by outside facilitators, with a focus on the personal growth of the participants. In South Africa, conflict resolution workshops have taken hold only more recently. This is partly in response to a current desire for "Restorative Justice" (part of which involves the rehabilitation and reintegration of the offender), and partly as a possible answer to the high crime rates which presently exist in South Africa. The high rates of inter-personal violence in South Africa could also be targeted through workshops of this kind.The focus of this research is on a number of conflict resolution workshops run by non-governmental organisations locally. It is an evaluation of the form, content and impact of certain specific interventions, and concludes with the formulation of a set of recommendations for future interventions of this nature. The research was conducted qualitatively. I carried out ten semi-structured interviews with past participants and current facilitators of a series of workshops, and I participated in a three-day workshop in a prison. I also conducted a literature review, looking at the development of conflict resolution programmes internationally.