Prisons ‘are too full’

South Africa is like the rest of the world and is ‘not im­mune to the num­bers’ drama’

The New Age (Gauteng) - - GAUTENG NEWS - NTOMBI NKOSI ntombin@the­newage.co.za

SOUTH Africa’s prisons con­tinue to be grossly over­crowded with an av­er­age in­mate pop­u­la­tion of 160 280 in the 20162017 fi­nan­cial year for the 119 134 spa­ces avail­able in the coun­try’s De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices (DCS) fa­cil­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the DCS, which has been taken to court on mat­ters re­lated to prison over­crowd­ing in the past, over­crowd­ing of prisons is a univer­sal prob­lem.

The de­part­ment says this is de­spite ef­forts to find a so­lu­tion world­wide.

The DCS has at­trib­uted the prob­lem partly to the pub­lic’s equat­ing of se­cu­rity with long prison sen­tences and op­po­si­tion to pa­role.

“This shows South Africa is not im­mune from the over­crowd­ing phe­nom­e­non.

The chal­lenge of over­crowd­ing hampers the de­part­ment from car­ry­ing out its man­date of re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing of­fend­ers and fa­cil­i­tat­ing their rein­te­gra­tion into so­ci­ety,” DCS spokesper­son Singabakho Nx­u­malo said.

He said this was ev­i­dent in the re­ports by the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion and judges of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court “who have ob­served non-com­pli­ance with min­i­mum stan­dards for the in­car­cer­a­tion of of­fend­ers”.

“Ir­re­spec­tive of fig­ures re­fus­ing to go be­low 119134 in line with the ap­proved bed space, the DCS has made cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties cen­tres of hope.”

Nx­u­malo said the part­ner­ship and co­or­di­na­tion within the crim­i­nal jus­tice clus­ter had im­proved tremen­dously and con­tin­ues to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the work of cor­rec­tional ser­vices.

“Dif­fer­ent mech­a­nisms and strate­gies to re­duce over­crowd­ing are be­ing ex­plored.

A re­cent ex­am­ple is Pollsmoor man­age­ment area in the West­ern Cape where over­crowd­ing was re­duced by at least 150%, clearly in­di­cat­ing that the DCS is ready to con­front the chal­lenge of over­crowd­ing,” Nx­u­malo said.

The de­part­ment has de­cided to en­gage com­mu­ni­ties to as­sist in its ef­forts to re­duce over­crowd­ing.

“The de­part­ment has iden­ti­fied the fol­low­ing stake­hold­ers as an­other arm that can help to re­duce over­crowd­ing, the fam­ily of of­fend­ers, com­mu­ni­ties, pri­vate sec­tor, faith based or­gan­i­sa­tion and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“These in­sti­tu­tions can also help deal with the is­sue of re­cidi­vism (re­of­fend­ing),” Nx­u­malo said.

The DCS has also cre­ated 407 ad­di­tional beds through up­grades.

“We ex­pect the num­bers to in­crease af­ter the com­ple­tion of nu­mer­ous projects that the de­part­ment is busy with,” Nx­u­malo said.

To ad­dress over­crowd­ing, the DCS has im­ple­mented a mul­ti­pronged strat­egy that among oth­ers in­clude: • Man­ag­ing re­mand de­tainees. • Man­ag­ing lev­els of sen­tenced in­mates through im­prov­ing ef­fec­tive, and ap­pro­pri­ate use of con­ver­sion of sen­tence to com­mu­nity cor­rec­tional su­per­vi­sion, re­lease on pa­role, and trans­fers.

• Fast track­ing up­grade and build­ing of new fa­cil­i­ties.

• Im­prov­ing cor­rec­tion. • En­cour­ag­ing com­mu­nity in­volve­ment in so­cial rein­te­gra­tion.

PIC­TURE: GETTY IM­AGES

CROWDED HOUSE: Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices has im­ple­mented sev­eral strate­gies to fight over­crowd­ing.

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