Ex-convicts’ fingerprints to be valid for a specific period
FORMER convicts are expected to breathe a sigh of relief as fingerprints and records of previous convictions will be valid for a certain period of time.
Currently, former-offenders’ records are used against them such that they are sometimes not given opportunities of being employed, regardless of when they committed the crime.
In short, the records, as things stand, are valid for an unlimited period of time.
This resulted in the overwhelming outcry of members of the public on the negative impact of the use of fingerprints or previous conviction records of ex-offenders. What made matters worse for the public was that the fingerprints were used without considering the time when the crime was committed.
Even if the ex-offenders had served their sentences, they were victimised, based on their fingerprints.
The August House is now in the process of passing the Criminal Procedure and Evidence (Amendment) Bill No. 08 of 2015. The House portfolio committee of the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs has finished deliberating on the Bill. On Wednesday, the committee was tabling a report on how it deliberated on the amendments.
Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Edgar Hillary told the members of the portfolio committee that the aim of the bill was to control the accessibility and regulate the use by providing a time frame within which the record of previous convictions could be used.
“The status quo resulted in the exoffenders being disadvantaged or punished for their offences for the rest of their lives. This has been, more often than not, the case in the eligibility for scholarships and securing of jobs in certain fields or disciplines,” Hillary said. He went on to say no matter how petty the crimewas, the circumstances that prevailed at the time and the time that had lapsed, the record would sometimes prove to be detrimental to the livelihood of an ex-offender. The minister believed that the amendment would address the discrepancy and the record of previous convictions would only be used in the regulated circumstances.
This is how the fingerprint records are to be regulated:
The records of a previous conviction of a child offender will be valid for a period of three years, beginning from the last day of serving the sentence.
After the expiry date of three years, the records of a precious conviction of a child offender can only be disclosed and used for purposes of crime detection, investigation of an offence or for the use in prosecution.
The validity of a previous conviction, except for a child, shall be determined by the length of the sentence.