Doctors paid to urge parole

2010-04-21 18:05

Cape Town - An increasing number of prison inmates are paying psychiatrists to write up assessments that motivate their release, Parliament heard on Wednesday.

The acting national commissioner of correctional services, Jenny Schreiner, told the portfolio committee on correctional services that prisoners were using the assessments by the mental health professionals as a "motivation" that they would not recommit a crime.

"We have an increasing process of inmates, in relation to lifers parole processes, going to get psychiatric assessments done at their own expense by their own psychologists and psychiatrists that is then presented as part of motivation that a particular inmate won't recommit crime."

"We need to be sure that is an independent assessment by somebody who has necessary expertise to draw a conclusion about my psychological state and about my propensity to commit crime."

Schreiner said a number of "questions" existed around the decision-making on the granting of medical parole to prisoners.

The decision at the moment lay with the parole board or at the national council level which gave recommendations to the minister of correction services, but the problem was that parole boards were not currently constituted with medical personnel.

"The importance of health professionals' reports or medical reports is critically important," she said.