No jail luxuries for offenders

2019-01-31 06:21

On the 23rd of December, I’m sleeping at home and my kids are having friends over, so they are chilling in the veranda.

Three boys with guns took their phones, tekkies and a watch, and were gone in two minutes.

The next morning, I’m on a raid to get the thieves and I only get hold of the takkies.

I assume that you’re thinking: why not go to the police? Well, be happy to know that no blood was spilled as I‘m a law abiding citizen.

I welcome the idea that the public in general should allow the judiciary to do its work in dealing with criminals.

I understand that denying the suspect bail should not be seen as part of the sentence, which can only be given after the suspect has been convicted. In line with our law, which states that suspects should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, bail can only be denied to advance justice.

In other words, bail should be denied if it can be shown that the accused is a flight risk, or if it has been demonstrated that the accused will interfere with the investigation or intimidate witnesses.

Otherwise suspects are entitled to bail and there are very good reasons for that, among these is the fact that a suspect can be held in custody for anything from two years to even five years waiting for trial, only to be acquitted at the end of the trial.

Be that as it may, many people are living in fear and have lost faith in the system, so they will protect their families by any means.

Prison is an integral part of the criminal justice system in every country.

Used appropriately, it plays a crucial role in upholding the rule of law by helping to ensure that alleged offenders are brought to justice and by providing a sanction for serious wrongdoing.

I’m also aware that in the past they were used as an instrument of political cruelty.

In the 19th century punishment usually consisted of physical forms including capital punishment, disfigurement, whipping, branding, and non-physical punishments, such as public shaming rituals.

In our country, a fighter like Sobukwe and others were perceived as opponents of state, and were charged for political crimes without a fair trial or legal due process. The constitution of South Africa has made jails too comfortable and supper luxurious, so much that people don’t fear imprisonment anymore.

We urge our leaders to pass laws which will command that all convicts who had been sentenced for serious crimes be placed in strict services that will make them to repay society for their time in jail.

These include community service in various projects to deter them from further criminal activities, by making noticeable public example of the consequences of breaking the law.

Remove and outlaw television and smoking in the cells. Provide inmates with selected books, games, a gym, newspapers and a radio facility.

It would be vital that the system assess the prisoner’s personal history and criminal record so they can be filtered before incarceration to avoid exposing those who have been victims of circumstances to hardened criminals.

Petty crimes of misdemeanour must be directed to restorative justice programmes. There is no price for respect and honour and it is time for the leaders to be truthful.

Sonwabo Sompeta Nyanga East
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