Ronald Lamola on prison overcrowding, rehabilitation & equipping inmates with skills
Justice minister Ronald Lamola on Friday afternoon briefed the media about the decision to grant parole to 19,000 prisoners in an effort to ease overcrowding in prisons and curb the spread of Covid-19 among officers and inmates.
The parole dispensation will apply to low-risk offenders and excludes inmates serving terms for serious crimes including child abuse and sexual offences.
This is what Lamola said in six quotes:
Decision not taken lightly
“This is not something the department of correctional services can do with ease, simply because the interest of justice and society demand the opposite from us. Correctional services has adopted an approach in implementing its Covid-19 disaster management response strategy across all its centres and offices.”
Overcrowding prevents social distancing
“Under human rights law, states are obliged to prevent foreseeable threats to public health and ensure that all who need vital medical care receive it. Over and above that, the UN set out measures to protect those in detention. The high commissioner also advises people to look for ways to release low-risk offenders who are at risk of contracting the virus.”
“We ought to act decisively and prevent this invisible killer from rapidly multiplying in our centres. We convey our gratitude to the officials of correctional services who managed the spread of the virus in our centres countrywide.”
“We have, as of May 7 2020, 172 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in correctional services among officials and inmates.”
“We want to emphasise that behind the correctional services centres' walls, offenders are being rehabilitated. There are programmes aimed at correcting offending behaviour, aiding human development and promoting social responsibility and positive social values."
Inmates equipped with skills
“Inmates across the country are, through our production workshops and agricultural farms, doing agriculture, manufacturing furniture and making their own uniforms. We have 19 textile workshops, 10 steel workshops, 10 woodwork shops, nine bakeries and one shoe factory.”