Meeting SummaryThe Department of Correctional Services briefed the Committee on its Strategic Plan and Budget. It a commitment to development, and to strengthening partnerships with the relevant departments within the Criminal Justice and Social Development sectors. The improved rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders emerged as a priority. The departmental programmes, and allocations for each, were presented briefly. The presenters described the implementation strategies to improve service delivery, the mechanisms through which the White Paper could become embedded in the DCS, and the challenges, which included alignment of planning across the whole Criminal Justice system, and the impact of the criminal justice review on planning. The key priorities for 2009 to 2010 included the development of a framework for the management of child and female inmates, and offender involvement in care programmes, and development programmes.
Members asked a number of far-reaching questions. They requested more clarity on the indicators and commented upon various ratios and increases of numbers and budgets. A number of questions were posed around the inadequate resources for rehabilitation and social reintegration of offenders upon their release, the skills development and self-sufficiency programmes that could be put in place, why so few offenders were involved in work programmes, and why so few were undertaking education. Other questions were directed to the problem of awaiting trial detainees in prisons, the reasons why bail was not being used, the overcrowding problem, which had not abated, use of diversion and alternatives to incarceration. It was suggested that there was a need for a review of minimum sentencing. Members asked about outsourcing and commented that many of the types of work being outsourced should be performed by detainees. This led to a further discussion about prison escapes and security issues, with the comment being made that simply allocating more funds without addressing the collusion would not address the problem. The issue of education on HIV and Aids, the facilities for women, and mothers with children in prisons were also raised. The position of the Public Private Partnership prison building initiatives, the security at those prisons, the implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation and the 7 Day Establishment were discussed. Members interrogated the numbers of suspended officials receiving pay whilst suspended, the top-heavy staffing structure, vacancies and the large amounts being paid in lease fees. There were comments and interrogation around problems and challenges identified during the Committee meeting with NGOs on 17 June. Central to these was the issue of disjuncture between DCS goals and objectives, and the allocations it had managed to procure. It was again recognised that the Department maintained a commitment to the White Paper objectives of rehabilitation and social reintegration, but that retributive sentencing was still embedded in the workings of the criminal justice system, and that the DCS would have to find ways of involving other departments in the justice cluster, and of procuring more resources to invest in rehabilitation and reintegration. The Chairperson indicated that Committee engagement with the DCS would be intensive and ongoing, and that much would be expected of both the DCS and the Committee.
Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Strategic Plan and budget briefing
Ms Jenny Schreiner, Chief Deputy Commissioner (CDC), Department of Correctional Services, DCS, defined DCS priorities as being a massive programme to build economic and social infrastructure; the building of cohesive , caring and sustainable communities; continuing to pursue African advancement and enhanced international cooperation, and assisting in building a developmental State. With regard to the improvement of service delivery for core mandates, she referred to improved rehabilitation and integration of offenders as a priority. She noted that corrections and the work of the Department were societal responsibilities and stressed the building and strengthening of partnerships with the relevant departments in the criminal justice and social sectors. Another priority was to extend outreach to inmates, families and victims in order to facilitate social reintegration of offenders.
She then noted the key programmes and their budgets. The Administration programme was central. The Security programme aimed to provide safe and healthy conditions for all persons incarcerated. The Corrections programme’s purpose was to provide needs-based correctional service plans and interventions, based on an assessment of the security risk and criminal profile of individuals. The Care programme would provide needs-based care programmes and services aimed at the personal well-being of incarcerated persons. The Development programme would provide needs-based personal development programmes and services to all offenders.
Ms Schreinersaid that the Social Reintegration programmes would provide services based on offenders’ preparation for release, their effective supervision after release on parole, and would also attempt to facilitate their social reintegration into their communities.
The Facilities programme would ensure that physical infrastructure supported safe and secure custody, humane conditions and the provision of corrective services.
A commitment to implementation of the White Paper was expressed. Improvement of skills, utilisation of offenders within the correctional service centres and enhancement of opportunities for employability were priorities. Key deliverables included a framework for management of child and female inmates, and improved offender involvement in care and development programmes.
Challenges included alignment of planning across the criminal justice system, and the impact of the criminal justice review on planning, as well as resourcing strategies and a strategic approach to financing and procurement.
Mr M Selfe (DA) enquired about the redefinition of indicators. For the preceding seven years, strategic plans had not been clear in terms of which indicators had been reached. He asked if a point would be reached where the achievement of objectives could be tracked with the help of the data.
Mr Selfe also remarked that he could discern a vision in the strategic plan, but there was a disjuncture between the focus areas and allocated resources, and reality at the centre level.
Ms Schreiner replied that a measurement framework had been developed by the National Treasury, which initiated a shift. The framework was piloted in the DCS. Corrections and security indicators could serve as management indicators to track delivery. It would indeed be possible to give information that would indicate trends, and predetermined indicators would be measured over five-year periods. It should also become possible to improve average figures. Performance information would be monitored, and used in decision making.
The detailed work currently being done to assemble information would lay the groundwork for the development of information systems. Ms Schreinersaid that, for instance, the ratio of inmates to officers in minimum security prisons was different to the ratio in maximum security prisons, and this posed the question as to whether the ratio had been thought through again. Processes had to be taken to their logical conclusion. Information systems would indicate the strength of human resources on the ground. There was better integrity of data. Through alignment with the National Treasury framework, the reality on the ground would be better understood.
Mr Selfe ventured that resources for rehabilitation and social reintegration were woefully inadequate. He asked when realignment would take place. He also noted that involvement of prisoners in agricultural projects and industries had actually gone down over the preceding six years. Mr Selfe quipped that there was an old cowboy maxim that talking was cheap, but money bought the whiskey.
Ms M Mdaka (ANC) asked about the Department’s view on setting up industries like farms and factories for skilling and self-sufficiency, and to absorb the running costs of prisons.
Ms Subashini Moodley, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Development and Care, DCS, replied that there were currently 21 prison farms, 99 smaller vegetable gardens, 10 woodworking shops, 10 textile factories, 10 steel workshops, a shoe factory and 5 bakeries running. Although the numbers of inmates involved had declined due to security reasons, there had been a 6.3% increase in agricultural production in the previous year. In the agricultural field, red meat, chickens and milk were produced. R3.3 million had been earned. The setting of targets and validation had to be examined. Facilities had to be utilised better. This required a comprehensive development strategy. Enhancement of self-sufficiency participation and general skilling, were priorities.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ) had expressed interest in furniture production to supply their needs. Unfortunately, some prison farms were remote and inaccessible for the direct needs of prisons. The goal remained income generation by the offender population.
Mr Fritz requested a look at income generation contracts. He said that catering seemed a viable prospect, with prisoners being employed to cook. He asked when would outsourcing come to an end.
The Chairperson made mention of remarks by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Members to the effect that maintaining the prison population was enormously costly; the cost of maintaining a single inmate was estimated at R72 000 per year. He too wondered if there could not be an improvement in self-sufficiency. It was mentioned that the mowing of lawns had been outsourced in prisons, and they were assuming the appearance of holiday homes.
Ms Moodley responded that a feasibility study had been commissioned, to determine what the DCS could do for itself with inmate labour, and what would have to be outsourced.
Ms Schreiner added that farm work had decreased because there were more maximum security prisoners amongst the total prison population. Farm work regrettably created opportunities for escape. The DCS had adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards escape. Indicator information would be used to enhance monitor evaluation capacity.
Mr N Fihla (ANC) asked about progress reports on measures taken to prevent escape.
Mr Teboho Motseki, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Corrections, DCS, answered that he had held a meeting two weeks previously with the investigating officer who handled the case of the escaped prisoner Ananias Mathe. Contraband material had been discovered in the escapee’s cell. A R70 million project had been launched to deal with security breaches. Security had been improved at 6 C-Max prisons. A certain type of prisoner was targeted in the process. He added that escapes tended to be prevalent among people who worked on the outside. Escape figures had gone down from 92, to 82, to 63 over the preceding three years. Surveillance of prisoners had to continue, albeit at a serious cost. He noted that the profile of the inmate population was changing.
Mr Fihla referred to a recurring concern among the NGOs at the public hearings, namely that the minimum sentence requirement contributed to overcrowding of facilities. He asked what was the view of the Department, what other methods of sentencing besides incarceration existed, and how effective they were.
Ms Mdaka remarked that 90% of Awaiting Trial Detainees (ATDs) were never convicted. She therefore asked what was being done along the lines of adult diversion to lessen the numbers of people held, and, where obstacles might have been identified, what was being done to address them.
Mr Motseki replied that the prison population had been decreased by the remissions of sentence during 2007, but had already been restored to its former levels. There were currently around 165 000 prisoners. The percentage of long-term prisoners in the total prison population had increased. The impact of long sentences handed down in the 1990s, was currently being felt. That contributed significantly to overcrowding.
Mr Motseki said that the numbers of Awaiting Trial Detainees (ATDs) had increased. 70% had not been granted bail, and could therefore not be diverted. The DCS could not deal with diversion on its own. The review of the Criminal Justice System had contributed to overcrowding and lessened the possibility of diversion. It had become necessary to appoint people who could investigate cases on merit, but that had not happened yet. More probation officers had to be appointed, as this could create opportunities to divert people from incarceration. The DCS wanted that function to be delegated to it. He noted that although, in the previous year, 64 000 ATDs had been moved, more were constantly coming in. The solution lay in capacity built throughout the criminal justice system. The high percentage of ATDs who were not granted bail, or who could not afford to pay, and long term prisoners compounded the overcrowding problem.
Mr Fihla asked what the Department had done to facilitate participation in parole boards, against the background of existing community attitudes to offenders.
The Chairperson likewise required an explanation about parole boards. He commented that quite a few had been set up, but many were still unstaffed.
Mr Motseki replied that parole boards had been operational since 2004. The DCS had not always been sufficiently involved in the establishment process. Many people who had taken packages were appointed. There was an urgent need for credible people on the boards. There had to be security checking, and the Department did not have the capacity for this, which had caused delay. The appointment of parole board Chairpersons was a Ministerial responsibility, but other members of the parole boards could currently be appointed at the regional level.
Mr A Fritz (DA) noted a strategic focus on women and children in the DCS. He asked whether the Department had consulted the 2008 Act that dealt with issues like probation officers. In regard to remand detention centres, he wondered if development and care objectives were reaching those awaiting trial.
Ms Mdaka asked whether special provisions was made for pregnant women and women with children.
Mr Motseki said that the Commissioner was passionate about the issue. The number of children under the age of 18 being held in prisons had decreased. The DCS worked with the Departments of Social Development and Justice, to place children with families or in safe centres. DCS was part of a task team.
Ms Xoliswa Sibeko, National Commissioner, DCS, said that existing prisons were not really designed for women. The Department attempted to make female prisons more habitable, and to make visits to inmates possible. A pilot project was running in which it was planned that women could even cook for themselves.
Ms Moodley added that mothers with babies were kept separate from other inmates. The DCS attempted to provide Early Childhood Development training for the first two years of a child’s life, and then handed children of imprisoned mothers over to the Department of Social Development for foster care.
Ms Mdaka enquired about unprotected sex in prisons, which was related to the existence of a prison gang subculture, and the implications for HIV/Aids. She asked if there were awareness programmes running for inmates.
Ms Moodley answered that voluntary counselling and testing was in place for prisoners. Education was provided on sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/Aids. The impact of awareness programmes had to be assessed. Sufficient funding was available.
The Chairperson expressed doubt about the rate at which the skilling and literacy targets were being met. He saw that there was an increase in the numbers of offenders involved in literacy programmes, from 1700 to 2000 offenders, but asked if a 300-person increase was enough, especially when seen in comparison to the 11 000 prison population. He asked what the challenges were in this regard.
Ms Moodley identified the availability of educators as a major challenge. 449 educators were available, for the capacity of 113 000 inmates. There were 180 skills development officials. The DCS desired to engage in partnerships. A number of organisations were prepared to provide services, and the Department would be working on this issues. However, the R448 million budgeted for development was not adequate. In addition, the infrastructure of mass incarceration centres did not provide teaching facilities. Passages and dining halls had to be used. There was no doubt that enhancement of such services was desirable. However, it must also be remembered that the inmates could not be forced to participate.
The Chairperson directed attention to the issue raised by Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) at the Public Hearing of 17 June, that the staffing of the DCS head office had become top-heavy. It was claimed that the numbers of management personnel had increased from 600 some years previously, to a current level of 3 000, and that there was a lack of personnel, and a number of unfilled vacancies, at lower levels.
Ms Schreiner replied that the size of the National Office was 900 staff. Restructuring had commenced in 2003. There was a need for more policy framework and conceptual work to be performed. There was an attempt to take this down to street level from 2006. Capacity was brought in at the centre, which could be redeployed. The level of area management would be raised. Capacity at management level was in favour of delivery.
The Chairperson raised the “horrendous” amounts spent on leaseholding and leases, pointing out that R494 million had been paid under this item, and questioning what exactly it was for.
Mr Motseki answered that 197 facilities were leased. Those included regional offices. It sometimes proved difficult to centralise the management of four or five centres, so the offices were widely dispersed, and larger in number.
The Chairperson enquired about outsourcing, for which R99 million was required for the current financial year.
Ms Nandi Mareka, Acting CFO, DCS responded that the Auditor-General was busy with an audit on consultancies.
Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) asked about obstacles in the way of implementing the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) and Seven Day Establishment, enquiring also if the 7 Day Establishment would be instituted across the board in provinces.
Ms Schreiner replied that the 7 Day Establishment would be rolled out. Funding differed for various centres. There would be a phased implementation. Some centres were ready, and some were not. There was a great variation in the numbers of people required at different centres. At some centres very large numbers of people were on guard at a given time. These aspects had to be investigated.
Ms Nandi Mareka, Acting CFO, tabled the budget, containing a summary of the allocations per programme. This indicated a total figure of R13.2 billion , of which the largest figures were allocated to security, administration and then facilities. An amount of R1 billion was given for devolution of funds from Department of Public Works. The 2009 MTEF Baseline stood at (R’000) R12,65 billion. Additional allocations included a specific figure for the 7 Day Establishment
Mr Smith enquired when a closer alignment between DCS goals and budget allocation could be expected. He also asked what was being done regarding long suspensions of personnel under disciplinary proceedings, and attendant costs.
Ms Ngwenya commented that when staff were suspended on full pay, it was the taxpayer who was footing the bill. She asked if these people had been arrested or charged.
Ms Sibeko responded that 423 persons were currently suspended, and that the costs indeed ran to R12 million. She said that some DCS officials from a military background were inclined to subscribe to a military culture of quick suspension. However, during strike action, the Department would have appeared weak if it had remained too passive and had allowed too much leeway. The implementation of OSD would help alleviate the circumstances that had given rise to suspensions.
The Chairperson asked for further discussion of adult diversion.
Mr Fihla remarked that ATDs were also a police and justice responsibility. In South Africa, it had become important to emphasise the criminal justice cluster working together. The NGOs had said that minimum sentencing requirements caused problems of overcrowding and recidivism. The question of who went to prison thus had to be revisited.
Mr Motseki responded that one of the chief obstacles to diversion was the fact that those awaiting trial could not afford bail, or had not been granted bail. In the case of the latter, the reasons that had persuaded the court not to grant bail were often very serious. The DCS was committed to increase the number of monitoring officials, so as to expedite the diversion process.
Mr Fihla again commented on overcrowding. He ventured that it could be related to effective integration of the criminal justice system. It would be helpful to learn from the examples of other countries. Yet it was hard to obtain information on overcrowding. 65 000 people had been released in 2007, but they had been replaced, and numbers of detainees were increasing. He asked what it might be that enabled other countries to succeed in keeping their prison populations low. He had visited other countries to see how they dealt with the problem, noting that it had been successfully addressed in New Zealand, Denmark and in Norway. The principle seemed to be that the whole criminal justice cluster had to be involved. He recalled that the New Zealand Justice Minister had stated that the policy was to keep minor offenders out of prison. Only 6 000 of that country’s 26 000 sentenced offenders were in prison. There was a problem with the way magistrates were sentencing, in South Africa.
Ms Sibeko replied that there was indeed a desire for the Cluster to pull together. The option existed of bringing back traditional courts. Obstacles to diversion had to be examined, to answer questions as to why diversion could not be effectively implemented.
Mr Fihla suggested that officials from across departments in the cluster, such as senior prosecutors and police officials, should team up to facilitate diversion.
Mr Selfe commented on the possibilities for reconciling security priorities and productive work. Mangaung prison was a maximum security facility, but all the prisoners engaged in work. He noted the importance of management and facility design.
Mr Selfe then commented on the new generation prisons, saying that Kimberley would come on stream during the current year. He asked when, and in what order, the others would follow and asked if the rollout of the eight sites mentioned in the presentation was part of the Pezulu project.
Ms Mdaka asked which strategy would be more efficient and cost effective: improving established centres or building new public private partnership (PPP) centres.
Ms Sibeko replied that cost of building and speed of delivery were the crucial factors, as far as the cost-effectiveness of PPP prison building was concerned. In South Africa, such a facility could be built in 24 months. Kimberley should have opened already. She said that construction had been linked to operation, to attract people with an interest in funding prisons. The Minister intended to reform policy on PPPs, and it might be that the facilities would not only be used as prisons. The private sector could not be saddled with rehabilitation, as this function had to revert to Government.
Mr Motseki added that the most effective strategy for individual facilities would be found. If maintenance was not sufficient, replacement would be considered. Maintenance and replacement were responses to a different set of problems.
Ms Ngwenya enquired about the possibilities of extending medical parole to people who were seriously ill, even if they were not suffering from a terminal illness. She remarked that the medical parole process had been delayed, at cost.
Mr Motseki agreed that a review of medical parole was needed to reconsider the current stipulation that the parole was intended for the terminally ill. Ultimately, however, it was not for the DCS to decide.
Mr Fihla commented on security. He offered the example of effective prison security in Britain. There had been an incident there, where IRA inmates escaped with the help of a helicopter, which had resulted in greatly increased prison security. Recently the prisoner Ananias Mathe had escaped from a South African C-Max prison, and this raised questions. The Kokstad Ultra-maximum prison was an example of a supposedly foolproof facility. It was fully automated, with no keys being employed. Yet it was not staffed to capacity, reportedly because of water problems.
Mr Motseki said that there was a strong commitment to appoint an authority with the responsibility of coordinating security. He said that the problems of water and personnel at Kokstad had been attended to. The facility was reserved for prisoners who presented a severe security risk. Inmates who had been involved in gang fights, for instance, would be sent there.
Ms Ngwenya said that an arranged escape had occurred at Westville prison in KwaZulu Natal. She asked if there would continue to be budgeting for the security company at that prison, and whether the Government had paid for security screens.
Mr Motseki replied that control rooms were staffed by DCS officials, not contractors.
The Chairperson referred to a R70 million security injection, saying that the problem was not just one of money, but also of attitude and he enquired whether anything was being done to address the problem of collusion.
Mr Motseki agreed that there could be a problem of attitude. However, once the OSD had been finalised, it would be possible to have officials whose sole responsibility was security.
Ms Ngwenya asked about budgeting for social reintegration, and asked what was being done to prevent discrimination against offenders upon their release. She wondered why there seemed to be a disjunction between the value of integration and budgetary allocation.
The Chairperson noted that in the lines of goods and services, a 5% increase on paper was actually negative growth when measured against inflation. The changed mindset from retributional sentencing to rehabilitative goals would require very serious considerations to avoid the same kind of questions and problems recurring.
Ms Mareka responded that the budget was, in timing, ahead of strategy. Budgets had to be formulated in advance, and could as such not rapidly reflect changes in goals and strategies. Furthermore it was often the case that a capacity to utilise allocated funds was lacking.
Ms Sibeko returned to the issue of work for the purposes of rehabilitation and self-sufficiency, and the security considerations. Section 40 of the Act endorsed that prisoners be kept active, and that they might be compelled to work. Within certain limits, prisoners could elect the kind of work they would perform. Incentives had to be created for participation in farm work. In this regard, escape remained a problem. Some of the escapees had been prisoners whose release date had been close. It had to be borne in mind that some prisoners had no fear about compromising their record, because they had no real desire to move out of the prison system. Some held positions of authority among fellow inmates, which they valued.
The Chairperson suggested that there be a two-day engagement with the DCS in the immediate future. He reminded the DCS and the Committee that the session had not been intended as one of intensive engagement and interrogation. The aim was chiefly for the Committee to endorse the budget. There would be much more pressure later on. He reminded Members about the final budget debate, scheduled for 30 June.
The meeting was adjourned.
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