Second chance for former offenders - Masutha

Johannesburg - The justice department wants to amend a section of the Criminal Procedures Act dealing with criminal records in a bid to give former offenders a second chance, Minister Michael Masutha indicated during his budget vote speech in Parliament.

"In numerous interactions former offenders who have remained law-abiding citizens for years, have raised the matter of criminal records and their detrimental effect on successful social reintegration," he said in a copy of the speech delivered on Wednesday.

"Given that the 2008 amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act, which came into effect in May 2009, has effectively seen its sixth year this month, it is perhaps time to open the dialogue on a possible further amendment that will give more offenders a second chance in life."

Masutha told Parliament he would be convening a national consultative conference on criminal records this year.

"The idea is not to compromise public safety, but to enhance it as an overriding drive," he said.

Expunged records

Masutha reportedly told a media briefing that offenders could apply to have their records expunged 10 years after the offence was committed.

He said this period might be reduced, The Times reported.

"Ten years can be a lifetime, especially to a young person," Masutha was quoted as saying.

A total of 1 009 offenders had been fitted with electronic monitoring bracelets and a little more than 600 were still wearing them, he reportedly said.

Zak Modise, correctional services acting national commissioner, said the department planned to use the electronic bracelets to monitor more than 100 000 offenders serving short sentences for minor crimes.

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