the child justice alliance
Background and Organization.In 1999, in response to concern about the absence of a separate justice system for children and adolescents in South Africa, the Child Justice Alliance began planning and costing a new bill that would better address the needs of children who became involved with the law. Before the Alliance began working on this new piece of legislation, children who were convicted of crimes and sentenced to jail were, at times, detained together with adult criminals. There were numerous cases of exploitation and abuse.
From this system came a push for reform. This reform took the shape of the Child Justice Bill. The Child Justice Alliance, with the help of UNDP and the Open Society Foundation of Southern Africa had a crucial role in its planning.
Activities and Tools.The Alliance devoted a considerable amount of time and attention to the details of the bill. They examined implementation strategies, began training appropriate staff, and thoroughly evaluated all aspects of the bill.
One of the analyses of the Alliance was to realistically cost the bill through various stages of its implementation (comparing baseline data with that from initial implementation stages to the fully implemented status). It was then possible to compare the costs of implementation with the baseline costs for the justice system. While South African law dictates that a bill must be evaluated and costed before it can be voted on, the majority of bills only did a cursory job in this evaluation. The Child Justice Bill was the first bill to be adequately evaluated in this fashion. It would set a precedent for future legislative actions.
The Bill’s original costing evaluation involved several important aspects: it set up a baseline for current expenditures and costs, it evaluated the impact on various sectors of the government (police, justice, education, welfare, and correctional services), and evaluated the costs and benefits of the new system as compared to the old system.
Roles of Actors. While the Bill was first and foremost a political item with important contributions from the Inter-Sectoral Committee on Child Justice, the civic sector had a great deal of input in its planning, evaluation, and costing as well (mainly through the Child Justice Alliance).
Impact and Learning.Though a great deal of work went into the planning and costing of the Child Justice Bill, it did not get passed for another 10 years. Because it was such a drastic change from the current system, it raised a number of political issues. It focused more on creative forms of restorative justice (providing community and family-based consequences that children can learn from) as opposed to the more punitive system of jail sentences that had been in place. Due to these political issues, the Bill was not passed until May, 2009. By that time, it had to be reworked and re-costed before final passage.
Sustainability. The Alliance’s goal of getting the Child Justice Bill passed has been achieved. Now, what remains is the implementation and further evaluation stages. The Child Justice Act came into operation on 1 April 2010. The Child Justice Alliance will now focus its work on monitoring the implementation of the Child Justice Act and assist with training initiatives for civil society organizations that have a mandate in terms of the Child Justice Act.. The Alliance has served and still serves as a significant source of capacity building for those involved in the process. It has also served as a precedent for future policy planning initiatives.
Contact Person Lorenzo Wakefield
Phone +27 (021) 959 2950
Fax +27 (021) 959 2411
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