JCPS encouraged to reduce overcrowding in prisons

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pretoria - Correctional Services National Commissioner Zach Modise has urged various departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster to play their role in reducing overcrowding in the country’s correctional facilities.

This follows the recent order granted by the Western Cape High Court to reduce the number of persons detained at the Pollsmoor Remand Detention Facility (RDF) to 150% of the current approved accommodation within six months.

He said the issue of overcrowding in correctional centres is not a Department of Correctional Services (DCS) predicament alone but a crisis that South African society, specifically the JCPS Cluster and Treasury, has to address head-on as it is a symptom of a much bigger and complex problem.

“It is a well-known fact that overcrowding of correctional centres indicates a larger systemic ill in society, which is that of crime itself. Therefore, crime prevention, in cooperation with communities, remains a priority,” Commissioner Modise said on Tuesday.

He was addressing a meeting of the Western Cape JCPS Cluster at the South African Police Service (SAPS) provincial headquarters in Cape Town.

“As the JCPS Cluster, we have agreed that there is an urgent need for continuous engagement and a collective approach at national, provincial and local level to find lasting solutions to the challenges of overcrowding in the country’s correctional facilities.

The Western Cape JCPS Cluster has been requested to finalise its plan, which must include short and long-term sustainable solutions to address overcrowding, as monthly progress reports must be submitted to court.

“As DCS, we are confident that together with all JCPS Cluster partners, including the SAPS, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, State Security Agency, Special Investigating Unit, National Prosecuting Authority, Office of the Chief Justice, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and Department of Defence, we will find solutions to overcrowding.

“We remain committed to building a humane, efficient and effective correctional system. We must ensure that incarceration, and rehabilitation, is provided in a manner consistent with national and international standards,” Commissioner Modise said.

The Department of Correctional Services has already undertaken various measures to address overcrowding, including implementation of a series of action plans by DCS officials and Pollsmoor Management Area, in particular Pollsmoor RDF officials and management.

“The ultimate objective is the realization, and implementation, of recommendations contained in the Report by Judge Edwin Cameron, as well as the investigation by the Public Service Commission (PSC), in collaboration with the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Centres (JICS), into this matter,” he said. –