Prison boss makes appeal to reduce overcrowding in jails

2017-01-18 16:42
Zach Modise (AFP)

Zach Modise (AFP)

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Johannesburg – Correctional Services National Commissioner Zach Modise on Wednesday appealed to government security agencies to reduce overcrowding in the country’s correctional facilities.

The Western Cape High Court ruled in December that the number of inmates at Pollsmoor’s remand detention facility be reduced to 150% of its capacity within the next six months.

At its worst, Pollsmoor was 247% above its accommodation capacity, the acting regional commissioner for correctional services, Freddie Engelbrecht said at the time.

However, the ruling left many prisoners unhappy. Engelbrecht said what upset prisoners was that, in some cases, they were being taken further away from their families. Often relatives could not afford the increased travel costs.

Modise said overcrowding was not a correctional services predicament alone.

Monthly progress reports

"It is a well-known fact that overcrowding of correctional centres indicates a larger systemic ill in society, which is that of crime itself. Therefore, crime prevention, in co-operation with communities, remains a priority."

He said the Justice, Crime Prevention, and Security Cluster (JCPS) had agreed on the need for national, provincial and local governments to find lasting solutions to prison overcrowding.

It was agreed at a meeting of the national JCPS directors general on Friday, that the Western Cape JCPS cluster had to come up with a plan to address the problem. Monthly progress reports had to be submitted to the high court.

Modise said he was confident a solution would be found.

The JCPS cluster partners include police, the Hawks, State Security Agency, Special Investigating Unit, National Prosecuting Authority, Office of the Chief Justice, and the departments of justice and constitutional development, and defence.

Modise said the intention was to have a humane, efficient, and effective correctional system that complied with national and international standards.

Read more on:    cape town  |  johannesburg  |  prisoners
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