Juvenile justice system and Social Work in Botswana: an appraisal
Lucas, Taolo Boipuso
PublisherBotswana Society, www.botsoc.org.bw
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The paper discusses Botswana's juvenile justice system and locates the role of social work within the same system. The provisions of the Children's Acts of 198land 2009 that established special legal provisions and structures for dealing with juvenile offenders are scrutinized with a view to show how the juvenile justice system seeks to secure the best interest of young offenders. The paper in particular discusses sentencing options for children and young persons who have committed crimes. Particular attention is paid to probation as a sentencing option in Botswana. It shows how the practice of probation interacts with social work practice. The school of industry which has been established to provide technical and vocational skills to juvenile offenders is also discussed and the role of social work in that institution is explored. The treatment of juveniles committed to prison sentences and their interface with social work is also interrogated. It is the argument of this paper that Botswana's juvenile justice system is profoundly underdeveloped. Structures, infrastructure and services associated with juvenile justice are either inadequate or non-existent. Probation services are provided by untrained personnel; probation mies and regulations are outdated; infrastructure such as attendance centres are not available and juveniles committed to prison sentences are not given specialised care and treatment consistent with their age and level of maturity. It is imperative that Botswana's juvenile justice system is aligned to international juvenile justice instruments that seek to promote the best interest of young persons who are in trouble with the law. As it turns out the 2009 Children's Act falls far short of filling the yawning gap in Botswana's laws relating to children in conflict with the law.