Pretoria: Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has re-iterated his commitment to improving conditions in correctional centres across the country.
“As government, we remain fully committed to our shared vision of a caring and just society enjoining us to afford even those who err against society the opportunity to correct and mend their ways under humane conditions. We must go all out to rehabilitate and create conditions for those seriously seeking opportunities for change in their lives to access them.
“On the other hand, we need to accept that crime and criminality is entirely about failures in society and not a direct consequence of the failures of the system of Corrections. Preventing a life of criminality begins with the family unit, the social fibre and the opportunities for growth that our children get access to,” said the minister.
Ndebele said his department was passionate about galvanising understanding and support for a transformative agenda from prisons to corrections, and preparing offenders who need to get ready to be reintegrated as functional members of society.
Over the past five years, bold strides have been taken in providing better services to inmates, including taking care of their physical needs and their need for correction and rehabilitation.
“We are dealing with overcrowding in a sustained and integrated manner. Feasibility studies for new correctional centres are underway,” Ndebele said.
The department has approved the construction of two 500-bed capacity centres to serve the Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Eastern Cape provinces.
According to Ndebele, construction for the centres, and an additional 12 centres of between 500 and 1 500-bed capacity, will commence soon.
The department is currently implementing a pilot project for electronic monitoring of certain categories of inmates on parole, which started on 14 February 2012.
Other measures being implemented to improve conditions at correctional centres include:
managing levels of remand detainees through the Integrated Justice System Case Management Task
Team and Inter-Sectoral Committee on Child Justice; managing levels of sentenced inmates through improving effective and appropriate use of conversion of sentence to community correctional supervision, release on parole, and transfers between correctional centres to address overcrowding; ensuring progress with the department’s capital works programme to upgrade correctional facilities and to build new correctional centres that are both cost effective and rehabilitation oriented; encouraging debate in South Africa around the reason for incarceration as a sentence; encouraging an approach to appropriate sentencing that is focused on facilitating rehabilitation; and enhancing community correctional supervision so that it can be better utilized as an appropriate sentence for less serious crimes.