Do we care about our prisoners? NICRO does (for 108 years)

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NICRO Celebrates 108 Years of Serving South Africa

(National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders)

On 6 September 1910, 108 years ago, NICRO was founded by Justice J de Villiers Roos as the South African Prisoners’ Aid Association (SPAA) in Pretoria. Specialising in social crime prevention, offender rehabilitation and reintegration, NICRO boasts a rich, unparalleled history in human rights, juvenile justice and criminal justice reform.

An acknowledged and highly acclaimed leader in its field, NICRO is one of South Africa’s largest, most enduring indigenous civil society organisations providing comprehensive crime reduction and crime prevention services in the country.

Not only has NICRO existed for more than a century; it has gone from strength to strength, boasting shining examples of ground-breaking and pioneering contributions to both South African society and the criminal justice system. Right from the very onset, NICRO set its face against racism, with its work not restricted by limitations of race or creed.

The Apartheid days brought difficult challenges for NICRO. A non-racial organisation was regarded with great suspicion at the time. Nevertheless, NICRO played a key role during the state of emergency in the late 1980s, successfully facilitating family contact with thousands who found themselves in detention. NICRO also played a critical role in ensuring the rights and well-being of political prisoners were upheld. The late Bram Fischer comes to mind as one of the many thousands of political prisoners assisted by this prestigious organisation.

For more than a century NICRO has sought and introduced innovative solutions to the problems in our society. NICRO played a crucial role in convincing the authorities of the benefits of restorative rather than punitive justice in respect of less serious and non-violent crime. Much of the organisation’s pioneering work continues to form the very backbone of contemporary criminal justice practice, including:

· The supervision of prisoners released on probation along with those who receive a suspended sentence, which dates back to the early 1930’s,
· Community service, introduced by NICRO as an alternative to incarceration during the 1970’s,
· Diversion, an embodiment of and a crucial vehicle for restorative justice, and
· Non-custodial sentencing as an alternative to serving a prison term.

NICRO is able to celebrate the remarkable achievements and successes of the past 108 years, thanks to its partners, significant stakeholders and funders who have bolstered the organisation’s efforts to realise its vision of a safe, healthy, crime-free South Africa. In this regard, NICRO pays tribute to and salutes the Department of Social Development, the National Lottery Commission, aware.org, corporate South Africa, charitable trusts and foundations and other grant making agencies as well as our individual donor for their dedicated support, generosity and belief in our cause.

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