This is what parole entails in South Africa
The department of correctional services cannot confirm when Janusz Waluś will be released from prison, but has outlined what parole entails.
Spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said it is not to further punish offenders, but to assist them in living a normal life and reintegrating into society.
“Parole is a manner of placement whereby an offender, subject to completion of a minimum period of a sentence inside the correctional centre and subject to certain criteria being met, may be allowed to serve a part of his/her sentence in the community.”
Nxumalo said parolees are closely monitored to ensure they comply with parole conditions.
All offenders sentenced to life imprisonment between August 1 1993 and September 30 2004 must be considered for parole after serving a minimum 12 years and four months' imprisonment, he said, adding that Waluś falls into this category. The parole period for these offenders is a maximum of two years.
Those sentenced to life imprisonment after September 30 2004 cannot be paroled until they have served at least 25 years. These offenders remain on parole until death, he said.
Nxumalo emphasised that parole was not a right but a privilege prisoners have to earn.
“That an offender is eligible for placement on parole under correctional supervision does not mean conditional placement will be granted automatically,” he said.
“Approximately six months before an offender completes the minimum detention period, the case management committee (CMC) activates the process. This is an automatic process which means an offender does not have to apply to be considered for parole. The CMC compiles a report as prescribed by section 42 of the Correctional Services Act (CSA).”
What is the parole board?
The parole board consists of community members, a member from the department and may co-opt members from the police and department of justice.
Unhappiness with the board's decision
The CSA is clear that the decision of the parole board is final. However, the minister or commissioner of correctional services may refer any decision to the correctional supervision and parole review board. This board will confirm the parole board's decision or take a decision it feels the parole board should have taken.
What about lifers?
Parole consideration for lifers goes through the CMC. Their profiles are prepared and thereafter the first consideration is conducted by correctional supervision and the parole board.
The next stage is that of the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS), chaired by a high court judge and comprising professionals including other justices, magistrates, attorneys, clinical psychologists, social workers, medical doctors, professors and officials.
A recommendation by the NCCS goes to the minister of justice and correctional services. Upon receipt thereof, the minister exercises due consideration.
Victim-offender dialogue and participation of victims of crime
Nxumalo said the department introduced victim-offender dialogue (VOD) in November 2012 to strengthen rehabilitation interventions geared to change offenders' behaviour and place victims at the centre of the criminal justice system.
“This is done by our specialists (social workers, psychologists and spiritual caregivers) to ensure appropriate care is afforded as this can be a sensitive, emotional and inconsolable engagement.
“Hence the need to prepare all participants, including the offender, and aftercare (debriefing) has to be made available as this can never be a one-off moment. All participants must be provided with complete information regarding the purpose of the process, their rights within it and possible outcomes thereof.”
What happens when an inmate is placed on parole?
Parole placement comes with compliance conditions. A parolee is expected to adhere to his/her conditions of placement.
Monitoring officials in the employ of correctional services must ensure there is compliance by visiting parolees at their place of residence or workplace, or instructing parolees to visit the community corrections office. There are tools to ensure monitoring takes place.
Nxumalo said due to personal risk assessment carried out on offenders before they are released, conditions differ from one offender to another and are reviewed from time to time. In certain cases, especially those in which an offender has spent a long time in prison, the conditions are sometimes gradually eased.
“The parole board sometimes recommends they start by being granted day parole, which allows them to leave a correctional centre in the morning and return in the afternoon. This is to allow them to acclimatise before their release because they might struggle to adjust to an environment in which a lot has changed.”
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