Correctional Service Minister calls for parole review

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Johannesburg-Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula has called for a review of the legislation that grants medical parole to terminally ill prisoners.

The minister said in its current form, the law specified that only terminally ill prisoners may be released on medical parole, but it was silent on inmates whose health was deteriorating.

"The law needs to be clear on the issue of medical paroles because it has been established that there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. For instance, when an inmate is ill and applies for parole, a medical practitioner decides otherwise what then happen," said the minister.

Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking at the end of the two-day Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards Summit in Johannesburg. It was the first five-year review of the functioning of the parole board since its inception in 2004.

The meeting identified shortcomings in the current medical parole system and noted that heads of correctional centres were not fully utilising provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act and Correctional Services Act to grant parole to offenders.

"This may have a very significant impact in the level of overcrowding in some centres," said the minister, adding, however, that parole was not a process aimed at undermining the decision of the courts.

Parole is a process of placing suitable rehabilitated offenders into their communities under certain conditions. "So there is really no conflict arising from this," she said.

Meanwhile, the proposed amendment to the Correctional Services Act also includes the reversal of the earlier provision delegating the granting of parole to life imprisonment after September 2004.

Once the amendment is effected and passed into law, the minister will be responsible for granting parole to all persons serving life imprisonment as in the case of with those sentenced before 2004.