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New task team to evaluate parole process

PRETORIA: Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has set up a task team to evaluate the entire parole process in South Africa.
New task team to evaluate parole process
© Fernando Gregory –

Addressing parole board chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the country's 53 parole boards at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg, Minister Masutha said a new framework needed to be developed for the management of parole in the country.

"Our parole boards must operate in a more professional, and in an independent manner to enable them to make quality decisions that will stand in any court of law. A new framework needs to be developed for parole in South Africa, including benchmarking ourselves against international best practice.

"The importance of parole boards, as well as their chairpersons and vice-chairpersons, cannot be over-emphasized. Parole boards are critical in the implementation, and management of sentences meted out by the courts," the minister said.

He said all chairpersons of the parole boards will be given a 12-month contract to bring stability and create space for the review of the parole system.

He also gave the administration two months to resolve and settle a series of human resources management challenges facing the chairpersons and their deputies.

"It is the parole boards who have to assess if rehabilitation programmes have had the desired impact on inmates, before their release on parole is considered. The rights of victims matter just as much as that of offenders. It is crime which produces victims, or who I refer to as the offended.

"The aim of crime is to produce victims. It cannot be that we talk about human rights, and associated values, but all that we focus on is those who caused the pain. What about the victim? How can we say that we are a just society by only considering the rights of offenders, and have absolute disregard for victims.

"We cannot consider the parole application of any offender which does not show that the victims were consulted. These matters are not easy, but they cannot simply be ignored. To this end, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) must be commended for the roll-out of the audio-visual system in parole board offices," the minister said.

Minister Masutha said DCS needs to do much more to address the issue and ensure that inmates are able to become socially independent.

He said there are numerous inmates who should have long been on parole, but still remain incarcerated due to administrative inefficiencies.

"How successful are our rehabilitation programmes if there are offenders, who have been incarcerated for more than 20 years, who cannot be considered for parole. However, it is also pleasing to note that more than 94% of offenders released on parole do not violate their parole conditions and this number is continuously increasing," the minister said. He said Correctional Services does not operate in isolation, and is an extension of the justice system.

SOURCE is a South African government news service, published by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). (formerly BuaNews) was established to provide quick and easy access to articles and feature stories aimed at keeping the public informed about the implementation of government mandates.

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