Lack of counselling leads to a cycle of crime

2009-11-05 14:56

EACH psychologist employed by the Department of Correctional

Services has to attend to over four thousand prisoners because of a severe lack

of psychologists.

The inability to offer sufficient psychological counselling to

prisoners exists despite the 2005 White Paper on Corrections in South Africa

outlining the need for rehabilitation to be improved in the country’s

prisons.

Counselling is important because South African prisons have a

reported recidivism (relapsing into crime habitually) rate of about 80 percent.


The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration

of Offenders (NICRO) regional manager Gerhard van Vuuren expressed concern that

the high recidivism rate is directly linked to the shortage of

psychologists.

Van Vuuren said 46 thousand awaiting-trial prisoners received no

rehabilitation services because they were mostly reserved for sentenced

inmates.

South Africa’s Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons director Gideon

Morris said psychologists “form an integral part” of the prisoners’

rehabilitation programme.

Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative coordinator Lukas Muntingh

said psychological counselling was needed to help prisoners re-organize their

lives, self image and deal with “the fact that their family and friends are

outside while they’re inside”.

Muntingh said there were no support systems or guidance to help

prevent prisoners from once more embarking on a life of crime.

Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Hlengiwe Mkhize’s

spokesman David Hlabane said the department aimed to fill the posts through

offering better remuneration packages, a move which had already resulted in

increasing the number of psychologists from 22 in 2008/2009 to the current

37.

Hlabane said although there were 112 psychological posts vacant, it

did not prevent the department from engaging in the rehabilitation of prisoners

as psychological services were just one of many rehabilitation initiatives.

West Cape News


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