KZN pilots bracelet on parolees

2012-11-22 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal correctional services will use electronic tagging to monitor the movement of parolees if the pilot scheme bears positive results.

Since March this year, 27 life sentenced prisoners, who have since been granted parole, have been monitored using this method.

This innovation is aimed at minimising the chances of parolees failing in their duty to report to prison on stipulated dates and times once they are set free.

Today, the department will be officially launching the technological innovation in the form of a set of GPS tracking devices to keep track of parolees. After the launch, more parolees will be tagged.

The set consists of a waterproof wrist watch-like bracelet and a cellphone/pager-like device.

The bracelet will remain on the wrist of the parolee until the end of their prescribed supervision period, and they are not to tamper with the bracelet in any way.

Provincial correctional services spokesperson Nokuthula Zikhali said the pilot was ongoing.

“We’ve had instances where parolees had failed to report to their correctional supervisors for reasons [such as] not having bus or taxi fare from their homes to the relevant stations. Some abscond for no apparent reason. This innovation will therefore help minimise the visits to their parole officers. Instead of reporting four times a month for example, a parolee will visit once or twice a month,” said Zikhali.

She said before issuing the device to a parolee, parents, guardians or relatives of the parolees are consulted, informed of what the device is about and how it works.

Once the bracelet is tampered with, or if a parolee moves outside his or her specified range, a signal goes off alerting the control room in Pretoria.

Whoever receives the signal at the control room phones the parolee on the cellphone/pager-like device for an explanation.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Koos Gerber yesterday said only senior managers had detailed information on the device, and that all of them were engaged in meetings with the minister.

Prisoners’ rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu said electronic tagging was long overdue. He said this was a preferred method instead of sending offenders to jail where they stand a chance of becoming hard-core criminals.

“We encourage the tagging of not only the parolees, but also of those standing trial … who can’t afford bail due to poverty or unemployment. This could help deal with overcrowding in our prisons which leads to gross violations of prisoners’ rights.”

More details on the device will be available during the launch at the New Prison today.

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