What are the conditions of the South African parole system?

2019-10-23 06:03
                                                   photo: ANDILE SITHOLECorrectional services officials (from left) Mzwandile Shange (Head of Community Corrections), Yashin Rupram (Head of Greytown Correctional Centre) and Lindelani Hlongwa (monitoring official).

photo: ANDILE SITHOLECorrectional services officials (from left) Mzwandile Shange (Head of Community Corrections), Yashin Rupram (Head of Greytown Correctional Centre) and Lindelani Hlongwa (monitoring official).

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THE rehabilitation process of offenders who are granted parole to serve the remainder of their sentences outside of correctional centres is partly a societal responsibility — to ensure that they are rehabilitated.

Once an offender has been granted parole, it is the responsibility of the community and correctional officers that the offender who has been released on parole complies with conditions of the Correctional Supervision Parole Board (CSPB).

With many offenders being released on parole, the trust and credibility that the community vested in the justice system is compromised, and the functioning of the parole system is questioned.

According to the Correctional Services Act published in the Government Gazette on November 27, 1998, the objectives of Community Corrections “are to enable persons subject to community corrections to lead a socially responsible and crime-free life during the period of their sentence and in future.”

During Corrections Month, commemorated in September, the head of Community Corrections in Greytown, Mzwandile Shange, unpacked the terms and conditions of parole supervision. Shange said that the rehabilitation process of offenders is a societal responsibility that requires both the correctional service officers and the community to work in partnership.

“A parole is granted to an [offender] to serve his or her sentence out of prison after they have gone through a rehabilitation programme to prepare them to be integrated back into the community.

“When a person is placed on parole, they are given strict conditions that they must adhere to and comply with. Before granting offenders parole, they have to undergo an assessment and rehabilitation process.

“When the offender finishes half of their sentence, and after they have completed all of the individual correctional programmes in the correctional facility, the Correctional Supervision Parole Board gives the offender parole and places him or her into the care of the community corrections officer to serve the remainder of his or her sentence,” Shange said, adding that when offenders are at Community Corrections, they are monitored by corrections officers to ensure that they comply with the strict conditions set by the CSPB.

“Parolees are required to abide by the set conditions and reside at an address that was confirmed prior to his or her placement on parole. We urge the community to accept these offenders once they are placed on parole,” Shange said.

Some offenders placed on parole are not employable due to the stigma attached to them. Thus Shange appealed to members of the community and local businesses to assist with providing employment opportunities for parolees and further report to correctional services if parolees are violating their conditions of parole.

“Once we discover that a parolee violates their set conditions, we take them back to the CSPB and make a recommendation to the board to revoke their parole.

“Should an offender commit another crime while on parole, they are charged and the new offence is added to their record. The CSPB takes a decision about offenders breaking the conditions of their parole.”

During the month of October, the Department of Correctional Services embarked on numerous community programmes to educate the community about the functioning of the department and the purpose of parole as well as community involvement in the rehabilitation process.

Road shows, community awareness and crime awareness programmes to educate and inform the community are conducted within communities.

“The department emphasises that the rehabilitation of offenders is a societal responsibility. We urge the community to assist these offenders in the rehabilitation process and help them give back by allowing them an opportunity to perform free community service as part of their CSPB set conditions of parole.

“We further encourage local businesses to consider giving them employment. The community should not sideline the parolees, but they need to be accepted in their communities.”

The department works in partnership with other government departments including the Department of Health and Social Development.

Shange added: “My concern as the Head of Community Service is seeing offenders who are HIV positive being discriminated against within their communities.

“HIV offenders are given care and treatment during their incarceration period however, when they are released from correctional centres, they face many problems in their families and they are then afraid to disclose their HIV status. This often leads to them defaulting on their treatment.”

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