Electronic monitoring the solution to prison overcrowding – NGO

2016-12-07 20:03
Pollsmoor Prison (Picture: Supplied)

Pollsmoor Prison (Picture: Supplied)

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Cape Town - An NGO focused on prisoner reintegration believes that a High Court ruling on poor conditions at Pollsmoor Prison has paved the way for electronic monitoring to be used for first-time offenders. 

On Monday, the Western Cape High Court ruled that conditions at Pollsmoor's remand detention facility were "horrendous" and unconstitutional, GroundUp reported. 

Judge Vincent Saldanha gave government two weeks to show why it could not immediately reduce the number of detainees at the facility to not more than 120% of the approved number.

Pollsmoor Prison is used to detain suspects awaiting trial.

On Wednesday, the 106-year-old National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) issued a statement offering suggestions on how to improve conditions at the prison.

"For a number of years now, Nicro has advocated the implementation of electronic monitoring amongst low-risk and first-time offender youths (under 24) awaiting trial," CEO Soraya Solomon said. 

Solomon said the use of electronic monitoring would yield successful results. 

"In the UK, for instance, reoffending rates declined by 40%," she said. 

"Once incarcerated, youths awaiting trial are exposed to hardened criminals who eagerly share their crime skills, leading these youngsters down a path of far more serious crimes, particularly if they are disconnected from their families, communities and places of worship."

Kelly Gillespie, an anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, agreed, saying that placing young people in prison lead them to a formal engagement with gang structures.

"When they go to prison, they become deeply entrenched in those gangs. Merely throwing young offenders in prison is ineffective," Gillespie said. 

Nicro has been working to improve the conditions at prisons since 1910.

Read more on:    correctional services  |  cape town  |  crime

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