Offenders serving life sentences warned

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pretoria - Correctional Services National Commissioner Zach Modise says inappropriate behaviour in correctional centres by those who are serving life sentences will not be tolerated.

He made the comments after the media reported about offenders who are serving life sentences and are threatening to cause chaos in correctional centres, due to systematic delays in processing parole placements.

"While it is understood that offenders have the right to raise concerns, it cannot be acceptable that they disrupt operations without any consequences. Safety and security is of paramount importance," said Modise.

The Department of Correctional Services said it will act if the offenders behave inappropriately in order to ensure that there is no deviation from the core mandate of enhancing public safety through effective and humane incarceration of inmates, as well as their rehabilitation and social reintegration.

“South Africa is facing spiralling levels of serious and violent crime, hence government has adopted a no-nonsense stance in dealing with crime. 

“As a result, in the past 13 years (2003- 2016), the number of offenders sentenced to imprisonment of 20 years and more increased by a staggering 439%, whilst lifers grew by 413%. This means that there must be stringent processes in dealing with the growing numbers of lifers and their consideration for parole placement,” the department said.

The department said it has been transparent and has publicly communicated on the backlogs in processing the parole applications for offenders serving life sentences, which were sentenced before 1 October 2004, whose minimum detention period was reduced as a result of a 2011 North Gauteng High Court judgment.

Furthermore, the department has on various occasions pronounced that it is accelerating the exercise of recruiting professionals such as psychologists and social workers, while staff training is beefed up to ensure a smoother and faster parole process.

“Part of the process includes these professionals converging in one place to speedily deal with the backlogs, and submit all cases for further handling. It is therefore mischievous of some lifers (offenders serving life sentence) to use dubious means in coercing other inmates to cause chaos.  Stability in our correctional facilities is of utmost importance, and cannot be compromised,” the department said. – SAnews.gov.za

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