The integration of ex-offenders in South Africa based on the contemporary Chinese model: an interdisciplinary study
This study aims to understand the process of stigmatization, marginalization and discrimination visited on ex-offenders after completion of their sentences. With reference to scholars such as Foucault, Festinger and Lerner, I problematize the notion that ‘collateral consequences’ (essentially stigma) should of necessity follow ex-offenders for the rest of their lives. Instead of attempting yet another intervention project (most of which have failed dismally), I have decided to discover what we can learn from the Chinese (and other cultures) on integration – an idea vouched for by both Habermas and Durkheim. This work is an interdisciplinary study since it is a ‘complex problem’ which requires as many inputs as possible and consequently I strive to be as inclusive as possible. To this end, I also make eclectic use of theory as opposed to a thorough-going singular theoretical application. This inclusivity also relates to my sources, where I have consulted scholars of both the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries who have had something of value to say on the matter. In this respect, John Braithwaite’s seminal distinction between ‘integrative shaming’ and ‘stigmatizing shaming’ cultures was invaluable. The former prevents crime by resettling ex-offenders while the latter is ‘criminogenic’ and ‘counter-productive’ by driving ex-offenders away from mainstream culture through stigma. In this process the societal management of shame (resulting in either integration or stigma) has profound consequences. South Africa, a stigmatizing shaming culture, has rates of recidivism of between 85%-94% while the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC), an integrative shaming culture, presents only 6%-8%. My research problem is how to integrate returning ex-offenders in South Africa’s stigmatizing shaming culture, based on the contemporary Chinese model, i.e. how to incorporate the best features of an integrative shaming culture into a stigmatizing shaming culture, specifically onto home soil in post-apartheid South Africa (if this proves to be possible). In order to enable the transplantation process both in time and space (an idea gleaned from Derrida), I have developed nine tools to assist me with this procedure. These tools may be of value to other researchers who may wish to duplicate the procedure along a different trajectory. By employing ‘secondary data analysis’ as my tool of data collection, I consider a number of original field work studies which were done in the PRC relating to the period 1949-1996, when the integrative shaming culture on the mainland was at its peak. In my penultimate chapter but one I come to the realization that certain features of stigmatizing shaming cultures (these societies’ ‘diseased’ nature, the prison-industrial-complex, the ‘selfish’ society and their inability to grasp its own ‘desire’, etc.) preclude the sensible fusing of these two cultures, which might well be impossible because the respective ‘natures’ (selfish vs caring) of these two societies are mutually exclusive. As a result, I develop a number of devices to complement the successful transplantation of certain features and to enhance the well-being of both ex-offenders and offenders alike. These are: an examination of the desire to integrate, self-confidence, self-esteem, trust and Victor Frankl’s idea of ‘paradoxical intensity’. I bolster this exercise by first building a case, based on Foucault’s well-known notion, for the ‘care of the self’. I conclude that while integration is an important issue of concern to both Critical Criminology and Critical Theory (in the tradition of the Frankfurt School), as my work straddles these two central disciplines, this course may not be possible for the present and, moreover, is not the only way to grow desistence (and foreclose recidivism) among ex-offenders. Instead, measures aimed at growing their well-being may be more effective and indeed make more sense politically.