Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Criminal Justice

Advisor

Gabriel B. Telleria

Abstract

Botswana has been experiencing high rates of recidivism and prison overcrowding, but the causes of these problems have not been explored. Thus, this qualitative study was conducted to investigate whether the denial of legal representation to criminal defendants tried in the customary courts is one of the causes of high rates of recidivism, prison overcrowding, or both. The main research question addressed a possible relationship between these factors and the denial of legal representation, and the study was guided by the punctuated equilibrium theory and the policy feedback theory. Data were collected through semi structured interviews with 10 released first offender prison inmates, 10 released recidivist prison inmates, and 10 professional participants from disciplines in the criminal justice system in addition to reviewing statistics and scholarly research. Data were analyzed through detailed description, categorical aggregation, direct interpretation, which led to naturalistic generalizations and patterns. The results indicated that the denial of legal representation to criminal defendants tried by customary courts appeared to contribute to both recidivism and prison overcrowding, which may undermine public safety and security. The implications of the study for positive social change include informing policy-makers of the need to reform the policy on legal representation to ensure that criminal defendants tried in the customary courts receive fair trials. The additional implications for positive social change include impacting rates of recidivism and prison overcrowding and enhancing community safety and security.

Available for download on Thursday, February 20, 2020

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