The Department of Correctional Services aims to contribute to a just, peaceful and
safe society by detaining inmates in safe custody, while maintaining their human dignity, developing their sense of social responsibility and promoting the general development of all inmates and persons subject to community corrections.
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The White Paper on Corrections
The White Paper on Corrections [PDF] in South Africa is the principal strategic document aimed at directing the management and service provision of the department over the next 20 years and beyond.
The White Paper also sets objectives against which the people of South Africa can measure the department's performance and service delivery.
The White Paper represents the final fundamental break with a past archaic penal system and ushered in a start to the Second Decade of Freedom where prisons became correctional centres of rehabilitation, and offenders are given new hope and encouragement to adopt a lifestyle that will result in them having a second chance to become law-abiding South African citizens.
By mid-2010, over 79 policies had been reviewed and aligned to the White Paper on Corrections.
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Correctional Services Amendment Act, 2008 (Act 25 of 2008)
The Correctional Services Amendment Act, 2008 [PDF] was gazetted in November 2008. This followed a series of consultations with stakeholders to ensure broad representation by all concerned.
The amendments included: substitution, amendment or deletion of certain definitions; further provisions for the manner in which correctional centres are managed; authorisation of the National Council for Correctional Services to determine, under certain conditions, the period before an offender may be placed on parole; further provision for matters relating to correctional supervision, parole boards and the Judicial Inspectorate. It alsoand provides for compliance management and monitoring of relevant prescriptions, a departmental investigation unit and a unit dealing with disciplinary procedures.
In 2011, Parliament debated the Correctional Matters Amendment Bill, 2010.
The Bill seeks to improve the administration of three key areas of corrections, namely medical parole; the parole system in general; and the management of remand detention.
The provisions of the Bill limit the granting of medical parole to sentenced offenders who are in the final phase of terminal illness. The proposed Medical Parole System balances the medical condition of the inmate against the risk posed to society should such inmate be placed on medical parole.
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Work of statutory bodies
National Council for Correctional
The NCCS is an advisory board with the primary aim of guiding the Minister of Correctional Services in developing policy relating to the correctional system and the sentence-management process.
The NCCS serves as the recommending institution to the minister in relation to parole decisions for offenders sentenced to life imprisonment. The NCCS also serves as the parole-review mechanism and meets as the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board.
Ministerial Task Team on Categorising Inmates
This is an independent team appointed by the Minister to conduct an audit of certain categories of inmates within the correctional facilities.
Statistics are collected and trends, shortcomings and best practices identified. The audit helps the department address the state of overcrowding within facilities.
The task team audits the following categories of inmates:
- unsentenced inmates awaiting trial
- sentenced inmates – placement of certain categories of inmates on parole, correctional supervision, or the conversion of sentences to correctional supervision
- vulnerable inmates (mothers with babies, mentally ill and elderly inmates).
Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS)
The JICS was established in 1998, with the
statutory objective to facilitate the inspection of correctional centres so that the inspecting judge may report on the treatment of inmates and on conditions in correctional centres. The JICS is an independent office.
The Department of Correctional Services continues on its path to promote and give effect to the values of transparency, equality and fairness, as set out in the Constitution.
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Key projects and programmes
The Department of Correctional Services celebrates Corrections Week every year from 27 September to 3 October to create awareness of the department's mandate and promote understanding of corrections as a societal responsibility. The project was launched in September 2006.
Operation Vala (meaning "close") is a 50-day special festive-season security plan. It was launched in 2006 to deal with security pressures and escapes experienced during the festive season.
The campaign plan includes:
- tightening security
- limiting offenders' externally focused activities to essential services only
- curtailing goods and products brought to facilities by families and friends
- conducting impromptu searches to eliminate illegal substances
- maintaining appropriate staffing levels as informed by local threat assessments by heads of correctional centres and area commissioners.
Without security, no rehabilitation can take place. The department adopted a minimum security standards policy with six key pillars, namely: personnel, technology, information, operational, physical and management supervision of security.
Operation Funda (meaning "learn") is one of the Department of Correctional Service's flagship projects, launched by the Minister in January 2011 to enhance offenders' access to education and training to equip them for effective and sustainable social reintegration.
It came into being after the Minister raised concerns about the number of inmates serving life sentences considered for placement on parole who were incarcerated as juveniles for serious crimes, and had not had access to or used the opportunity to empower themselves.
Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 constitute 69% of the total offender population. There are 13 dedicated youth facilities nationally, but for years there was only one full-time school doing the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) programme − the Usethubeni Youth Centre in Durban-Westville Correctional Services.
Of the many young inmates that should be eligible for studying full-time, Usethubeni catered for about 30 inmates a year.
In 2011, three additional full-time schools doing the NCS Programme were launched in the Voorberg, St Albans and Kuthama Senthumule correctional centres.
Mother and Child Units (MCUs)
The MCUs are separate cells built for mothers incarcerated with babies in correctional centres.
The Department of Correctional Services launched two MCUs in August 2011 as part of celebrating Women's Month. The two facilities were launched in Cape Town and Durban respectively. Two more facilities were expected to be built in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape by the end of 2011/12. The vision is to develop and design child-focused and child-friendly units across the department's six regions.
The department launched the Imbeleko Project, which seeks to provide a home-like environment in centres for children below the age of two. It also seeks to place children of two years of age and above outside correctional facilities with sustainable family structures.
The objectives of the project are aligned with those of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The first phase of the Imbeleko Project was rolled out across all regions. This entailed the creation of a safe, humane and friendly environment for mother-child interaction. The second phase will focus on finding alternative placement for children older than two years, outside correctional facilities.
Offenders continue to be awarded opportunities to participate in community development projects by providing offender labour. In an effort to enhance the use of the available resources, the Department of Correctional Services has engaged various stakeholders to involve offenders in mainstream activities that could lead towards poverty alleviation within communities.
The aim is to formulate a relationship with other government departments and stakeholders so that they consider offenders as an available workforce that can be used as some sort of reparation and pay-back to the communities they have offended. The department has developed a draft concept document on the use of offenders in meaningful work activities.
The involvement of offenders in community projects or activities is of fundamental importance in their rehabilitation and reintegration process.
Strategic priority areas
The department's strategic priority areas include:
- Improved rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders: A draft project charter was developed, as well as draft action plans for the respective work streams. The key elements of improved rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders lie in the implementation of the correctional sentence plans, the responsibilities of case-management committees and parole processes, and the refinement of correctional officials' job functions that have been part of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) process.
- Improved Remand Detention Management System: Development of the system is a departmental and cluster priority and the policy framework has been put in place. In 2009/10, the department signed the Bail Protocol with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Minister of Police. The agreement ensures that inmates who committed petty crimes and cannot afford bail are diverted to alternative programmes. In 2010/11, the department finished setting up of the Remand Detention Branch.
- Improved stakeholder relations: The work of the department towards establishing an all-Africa corrections body saw results with the launch in September 2008 of the Africa Correctional Services Association (ACSA). South Africa was appointed secretary of ACSA and the department has been actively involved in the Southern African Development Community substructures, including interaction with counterparts on transferring foreign offenders to their countries of origin.
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The Department of Correctional Services' achievements for 2010/11 include:
- The implementation of the Seven-Day Establishment. It has enabled the department to comply with Section 8(5) of the Correctional Services Act, 1998 (Act 11 of 1998) [PDF], which prescribes intervals between meal times for offenders. The implementation of a shift system as a component of the Seven-Day Establishment has made more time available in day programmes within correctional centres. This enabled more rehabilitation activities to be implemented, as well as improved offender labour programmes. The shift system also allows for compliance with legislation on basic conditions of employment as adequate rest time is available to personnel.
- Implementation of the OSD was delivered within budget. The OSD allows for improved career pathing for professions within the department. Another consequence of implementing this remuneration system was the migration of qualified personnel to the coalface of service delivery, thereby distinguishing between administrative officials and those working with the correction of offenders.
- The department continues to win the war on fraud and corruption:
- the anti-fraud and corruption capacity of the department is rated as the third most efficient of departments audited by the Department of Public Service and Administration
- the measures put in place resulted in an 89% conviction rate during 2009/10
- R2,5 million was recovered from a R4,5-million debt owed by officials who were found guilty of defrauding the department's medical aid scheme.
- The Minister of Correctional Services launched the department's Service-Delivery Charter in 2010. The charter confirms that the department will provide high-quality professional services that are responsive to all service recipient needs.
- In 2010/11, the department reduced overcrowding by 5,75%. This was due to efforts within the department and across the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, such as the completion of a new correctional centre in Kimberley, the signing of bail protocols and the application of diversion sentences in terms of the Criminal Procedure Amendment Act, 2008 [PDF], by heads of correctional centres. A process of reclassifying some offenders reduced the number of maximum security offenders by 12%.
- Two correctional centres, namely Boksburg and Krugersdorp, were accredited to provide antiretroviral treatment to offenders, bringing the total number of such facilities across the country to 21.
- A total of 138 correctional officials participated in the 13th World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) held in Vancouver, Canada. The department has expressed interest in hosting the 2017 WPFG. The games attract thousands of officials from 80 countries and present about 70 different sporting codes. South African correctional officials were the gold medallists in athletics and rugby, and the athletes returned home with 216 medals.
- In partnership with the Department of Basic Education, the department has initiated an Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme for babies and toddlers who are incarcerated with their mothers. The programme recruits unemployed community members and parolees and trains them as ECD practitioners. The ECD qualification empowers the beneficiaries with a qualification equivalent to National Qualification Framework levels four and five.
- The Pre-Adult Basic Education and Training Programme, also in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, is a mass literacy campaign that involves illiterate offenders. Volunteers from the community are recruited and trained as literacy facilitators.
- Eleven computer-based training centres for offenders were established. Computer-based training forms an integral part of the subject Life Orientation within the National Curriculum Statement for grades 10 to 12 as well as the National Curriculum Vocation. The department completed and implemented the national project to align presentation of the curricula with national requirements.
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In March 2011, there were 162 162 inmates in 241 correctional service centres throughout the country. Of the 162 162 offenders in the department's correctional centres, 158 400 were male and 3 762 were female.
There are two private prisons in South Africa. Of the 241 correctional centres, eight are for women, 13 are for the youth, 129 are for men and 91 are mixed (women and men). The average cost of incarceration per offender per day was estimated at R123,37.
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Overcrowding in correctional centres continues to pose a challenge, affects how the department functions and influences its service delivery. At the close of the 2010/11 financial year, the department's facilities were overcrowded by 137,25%.
By mid-2011, the actual capacity in correctional facilities stood at 118 154 with 25 000 meant for remand detainees and
93 154 earmarked for sentenced offenders.
The department manages overcrowding partly through the transfer of offenders between centres and through releases resulting from sentence conversions. The construction of new centres should furthermore alleviate the pressure
put on facilities and staff.
The intersectoral Management of Awaiting Trial Detention Project involves all the departments in the criminal justice sector. There are continued efforts to encourage the judiciary to utilise the Criminal Procedure Amendment Act, 2008 (Act 65 of 2008), [PDF], with
the view of reducing overcrowding.
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The Department of Correctional Services’ guiding
policy is the White Paper on Corrections [PDF], which was adopted by Cabinet in 2005. Since its
adoption, the department has undergone various
changes that included policy review and amendment
of the Correctional Services Act,
1998 (Act 111 of 1998) [PDF]. By mid-2009, more than 44
policies had been reviewed and aligned to the
White Paper. The department has also gone a step
further to ensure implementation takes place.
More than 400 officials have been trained on
policy development and implementation.
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Automated Fingerprint and Identity System (AFIS)
The Department of Correctional Services had initiated the roll-out of AFIS in correctional centres around the country. By 2011, facilities for capturing and storage of fingerprint data had been installed at 145 sites. The integration of this system with those of the SAPS and the departments of home affairs and social development was expected to be completed by the end of 2011.
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The focus of the department remains to be on improving service delivery through initiatives such as the:
- Integrated Human-Resource Strategy: The department developed and launched the strategy in 2007/08 for effective work organisation, recruitment, retention and development of employees. In 2010, the three-year strategy was implemented and reviewed.
- Compliance Improvement Plan: Since its inception in 2005/06, this plan has been used as a system to monitor the performance of management areas and centres that have been recurring in the Auditor-General's reports. The management of compliance is tracked annualy with the Compliance Improvement Plan as a strategic focus area.
- Risk Management Framework: Significant progress has been made in the identifying risk indicators and mitigation plans. By mid-2010, the Risk Management Committee was developing indicators to assist in tracking the mitigation progress.
- Service Delivery Improvement Plan (SDIP): The department identified four key services to form the basis of the SDIP for 2009/10 to 2013/14. These are integrated into the department's strategic and operational plans. Regions report quarterly on:
- improving access of service-providers and other stakeholders into correctional centres
- improving telephone and switchboard etiquette at all service points
- managing the payment of bail and fines at correctional centres
- improving the scheduling of visitations to offenders to support family ties between offenders and their families
- Security enhancement: Security continues to receive priority attention as one of the core pillars of the department's legal mandate. The decrease in escapes from the Department of Correctional Services' centres over the last eight years is the result of the department's escalated measures to improve security, including security operations, technological installations, policy developments and training of personnel.
- Care and development of inmates: The department continues to improve the healthcare of inmates. The implementation of the OSD for nurses also ensures the availability of suitably qualified nurses to take care of the inmates' health and assist in the retention strategy in relation to nurses.
- Rewarding service excellence: Each year, the department honours officials who excel in their tasks and go beyond the call of duty to ensure that quality service is delivered. The annual National Corrections Excellence Awards represent the executive management's appreciation and recognition of the good and hard work done by many departmental officials.
Source: South Africa Yearbook 2011/12
Editor: D Burger. Government Communication and Information System
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