Correctional Service Officials should not be made scapegoats

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is alarmed by the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services’ (JICS) stance to isolate correctional officials and make them scapegoats over the lack of direction and inconsistencies within the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in managing correctional centres.

We view the JICS Inspecting Judge Johan van der Westhuisen’s comments on prison torture at the Helderstroom prison as one-sided and bias towards inmates, ignorant to the obnoxious conditions which correctional officials are subjected to on a daily basis.

Overcrowding and understaffing continue to be the main source of challenges that have in the past months seen the escape of inmates and attacks on correctional officials across the country, yet nothing is said about this fact in his expedition.

This is indicative of the unwillingness to confront and deal away with the core challenges that would, if urgently attended to, improve conditions within these centres and ensure the department focuses on its core business of rehabilitation inmates.

We want to emphasise that inmates should not remain indolent in correctional facilities, but do consistent work that will ensure these facilities become self-sufficient. They must contribute towards the running costs and decent up-keeping of these centres as this will contribute towards their rehabilitation and skills development. With approximately 85% to 94% of prisoners in South Africa re-offending after their release, the current system of rehabilitation needs to urgently be redefined because in the current, our prisons are far from being conducive to fulfilling the rehabilitation process needed.

The many challenges faced by the Department of Correctional Services in maintaining and monitoring inmates within correctional centres cannot simply be blamed on correctional officials.

Issued by POPCRU on 22/11/2016