We the People: Policing the Pools

In a series of blogposts, entitled “We the People”, the Wits Justice Project will be focusing on a comparison of policing, criminal justice, and incarceration in South Africa and the United States. This body of work grows out of contributions by journalists, lawyers, and commentators on both sides of the Atlantic, and seeks to understand these issues in light of the similar histories of racial oppression and the current high rates of incarceration in both countries.

Given that South African courts regularly turn to international jurisprudence, including American law, for guidance, we believe that this study will provide a useful basis to examine the development of criminal law and procedure here in South Africa with a critical lens. While American courts give less weight to jurisprudence from other countries, we hope that these posts will provide insight into the way that the role of human dignity, recognized by the South African Constitution, should be a consideration in any search for justice. 

Issues Plaguing the American Juvenile Justice System

The state of the juvenile correction system in America is dreadfully lacking in effectiveness and is increasing in population year-over-year. The US has the highest youth incarceration rate in the world with 336 juvenile incarcerations per 100,000 youth – nearly five times as many as the second highest country.

The Oscars and the WJP: racial inequality and the criminal justice system

This year’s Oscars ceremony saw a powerful acceptance speech and amoving performance that brought many celebrities to tears, by John Legend and Common, in which they spoke movingly about the current racial inequalities in the United States. Just a day later, the Wits Justice Project held its own lunchtime presentation on racial history and mass incarceration in South Africa and the United States of America.

Who is a child?

Extra Protections for Convicted Juveniles: U.S. and South Africa Agree – And Don’t