SA inmates serving longer sentences
Johannesburg - There has been a 2 400% increase between 1995 and 2011 in the number of prisoners serving sentences longer than 10 years, according to an SA Institute of Race Relations survey.
"The number of people in prison has been rising since 1995, putting increasing pressure on prisons in the country," the institute's Kerwin Lebone said in a statement.
The institute based its finding on data from the correctional services department.
"While the re-introduction of minimum-sentence legislation in 1997 had a significant effect on the duration of sentences, it is not clear whether the rise in the prison population is due primarily to more criminals being sentenced or the increase in the average length of sentences being served."
The number of prisoners serving sentences shorter than six months has decreased by 90% since 1995, the institute said in a statement.
"Prisoners serving sentences of between five and seven years also decreased, by more than 40%... The number of people serving life sentences, which stood at 433 in 1995, had risen to 10,349 by 2011, an increase of no less than 2 290% over the period."
According to the report, in 1995 over 70% of sentences served did not exceed 24 months. Only two percent of prisoners were serving sentences of more than 10 years.
Since 1995 the total number of people in prisons, both prisoners and those awaiting trial, increased by 44%.
Prison accommodation increased at a slower pace than the prison population, leading to a 37 percent degree of prison overcrowding in 2011.