The briefing by the Department of Correctional Services covered four critical areas in its presentation on the challenges it faced in delivering rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and services to inmates in South Africa’s correctional facilities. It dealt with the operational efforts regarding rehabilitation, the human resource constraints, the obstacles to increasing the budget for this programme, and partnerships which have been concluded to aid rehabilitation efforts.
The operational portion canvassed the overall purpose of rehabilitation, the basics of the various correctional programmes implemented, and ancillary programmes contributing to rehabilitation, such as spiritual services and sport. The human resources portion detailed efforts by the Department to compensate for the lack of scarce skills through a retention and recruitment strategy. The budgetary portion highlighted the lack of increased funding and the reprioritisation of funds to refurbish facilities for rehabilitation programmes. Lastly, the various partners and their contributions to the rehabilitative effort were listed.
The discussion saw contributions by Members on the absence of tangible outcomes from the rehabilitation efforts being presented, and the need to streamline efforts to focus on equipping inmates with artisanal skills and education, rather than on the more therapeutic programmes. Both of these lines of argument were taken up by the Committee, who encouraged the drafting of plans by the Department to implement these suggestions. Further concerns were the need to deal with the employability of former inmates and other persons with criminal records, the need to use the resources available to the Department efficiently before more resources were sought, and the nature of the restorative justice processes undertaken by the Department.
The Department indicated that it was engaged with an outcomes assessment research project in conjunction with UNISA, and accepted the potential for streamlining the programmes, although it pointed out that these were valuable and encouraged by the White Paper on Corrections (2005).
Briefing by Department of Correctional Services (DCS)
Mr James Smalberger, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Incarceration, DCS, said that rehabilitation in its current format was in its infancy, although it was one of the core functions for which the DCS needed the support of the Committee and the nation.
Aside from the Constitution, the White Paper on Corrections (2005) was the guiding document for the strategic direction which the DCS takes in its rehabilitation efforts. Correctional plans and programmes stem from the White Paper, and this was broadly what would be presented on. The White Paper had changed many things in the DCS, and the change in culture had needed more patience than expected.
The overall purpose of the correctional system was to contribute to a just and peaceful society by enforcing the sentences of the courts, detaining all inmates in safe custody, mindful of their human dignity, and promoting social responsibility and the human development of all offenders. The White Paper encourages engagement with the community in the rehabilitation process, because it is clear that this is a societal responsibility and DCS would not be able to do it alone. This had led to partnerships being formed with communities, families and other state institutions. The sentenced offenders attend a variety of interventions in order to be successfully reintegrated into society. This includes support from communities and provision of employment.
When an offender serving 24 months or more was first incarcerated, within six hours a risk assessment is carried out, leading to a risk classification with the first 24 hours, and within 21 days a sentence plan is developed. The sentence plan aims to address the specific needs of the offender, including social problems, education, psychiatry and physical needs. Further, the sentence plan is not static and in terms of policy, it should be reviewed to cater for changing needs.
Mr Smalberger said that all activities which contribute to the rehabilitation efforts are catered for under the rehabilitation budget programme. Before the White Paper there were no programmatic efforts within Correctional Services to address offending behaviour. He reminded the Members that to draft and implement a correctional programme had been timely and there were currently 11 correctional programmes. The programmes were group work based only and conducted by correctional officials who are trained, with preference being given to those with backgrounds in social or behavioural sciences. As they were now several years into implementation, the human resources department was currently undertaking a work study and job evaluation process, allowing the DCS to move towards a position where it can approach Treasury with a bid, and MTEF processes, to provide the funds to appoint people properly equipped to present these programmes. This was because the people presenting these programmes are not teachers, social workers or psychologists, but rather they are ordinary security officials who have been trained.
Mr Smalberger then detailed the 11 correctional programmes:
· New Beginnings Orientation, which aims at acclimatising newly incarcerated persons to cope with incarceration;
· Anger Management;
· Cross roads: aimed at equipping offenders with the skills and knowledge to become responsible, law-abiding and productive citizens;
· Restorative Justice: which prepares offenders for the restorative justice processes;
· Preparatory Programme on Sexual Offences: assists offenders to identify the possible causes of their deviant behaviour and empower them with information on biological and sexual development;
· Substance Abuse;
· Behaviour Modification programme on Gangsterism;
· Theft (fraud) related programme: this was tailored towards more organised crime;
· Economic Crime (theft) programme: dealing with theft -- for example, stolen food;
· Murder and Related Offences: this programme assists offenders to understand the causes of their own aggressive behaviour, as well as general human behaviour and emotions, to motivate them to create their own coping plans; and
· Pre-Release programme: this provides the offender with the necessary understanding and skills before their release.
Mr Smalberger added that four of the programmes are youth friendly, involving animation and sound effects. Also, a survey on the needs of female offenders, in collaboration with the University of Pretoria, was currently being used to draft a programme for female offenders. A new programme called the Correctional Programme on Robbery-related offences was in the pilot phase. When the programmes were first drafted, the focus was on the crimes which constituted the largest portion of offenders incarcerated. This had led to the more aggressive crimes being catered for, and fine tuning was now required to address lesser crimes.
The presentation detailed offender participation in correctional programmes per financial year. A refocusing had happened after the 2011/2012 year, whereby the number of actual offenders attending the various programmes was counted, rather than the attendance at each individual programme, as the latter would give a bloated figure. This had been amended in the Annual Performance Plan as from 2012/2013, with an offender being counted only once they had finished the requisite programmes.
Social Work Services
Mr Smalberger said here there had also been a change in the collection of statistics for the 2013/2014 Annual Performance Plan, which saw sentenced prisoners, remand detainees and parolees making up the total offender population assessed for participation in social work programmes. The presentation included both a statistical breakdown of participation and a list of the programmes offered, such as substance abuse, life skills and sexual offender treatment programmes. The DCS still collects operational statistics for church services and group sessions. There was an increase in the numbers after the 2011/2012 financial year. This was due to the increased number of community partnerships, with people coming to provide spiritual services in prisons.
It was well known that the DCS was experiencing a shortage in the area of psychological services. It currently had 68 psychologists serving an inmate population of 150 000, giving a work rate of roughly 2 200 inmates per psychologist. This was better than the ratio for the general public, which was one to more than 7 000. Looking at the annual report for 2013/2014 it would be seen that there was a new target.
Mr Smalberger said that there were several formal education programmes, including early childhood development for children born in correctional facilities under the age of two; general education and training; further education and training; and computer based training. When it came to higher education and training, post-matric expenses for offenders were not paid for by the state.
The previous Portfolio Committee was aware that only one school for deserving young offenders had been accredited by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in 2009, but by 2014 there were 14 of these schools, spread throughout all provinces. Accreditation required the school to have certain types of teachers, including mathematics teachers, and community partnerships. The DBE assisted in this regard. This was part of the drive towards rehabilitating the youth. The matric enrolment rate had gone up from 27 to 140, with the number passing with matriculation exemptions growing from 14 in 2012, to 30 in 2014. Of the 114 pupils who wrote the matric examinations, 67 had passed. However, these results reflected only the offenders in formal schools, Others were enrolled in self-study efforts, doing less than a full subject load, and 1 594 offenders fell in this category.
There had been a drop in the total enrolled in formal education, and Members of the previous Committee would remember that this was due to a change in the curriculum by the DBE. Further, the self-study inmates were not counted. Compulsory education for inmates not in possession of a grade 9 stood at 1 109 pupils in further education and training programmes. The CS realised that it had a large number of inmates who fell within the above category, and efforts to increase the capacity included the submission of a business plan for 24 classroom units and seeking assistance with the appointment of educators at full-time schools.
Skills Development Programmes
Mr Smalberger said that these were different from formal education, and were split along Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) college programmes, and skills development programmes. The TVET programmes were N1-N6 level 18-month theoretical courses.
Production workshops and agricultural activities promoted the transfer of skills by complementing other skills development rehabilitation programmes to improve their social and personal functioning. This was certificated to ensure that the offenders could work in the field for which they had been trained. Further, there was a mandate under the Correctional Service Act for self-sufficiency, and although the DCS was not there yet, the annual report for 2012/2013 had shown that it produced 8.4 million kilograms of vegetables, 6.2 million litres of milk, 1.4 million dozen eggs, 500 000 kilograms of red meat, 1.1 million kilograms of chicken and 1.9 million kilograms of pork.
The DCS provides a variety of recreational activities such as sports like rugby and soccer, chess and table tennis, arts and culture facilities and library services equipped with educational and technology programmes.
Measures to mitigate negative impact of shortage of professional staff
Mr Emmanuel Khoza, Director: Human Resources and Utilisation; DCS, presented on the human resources aspects of the rehabilitation programmes. The scarcity of skills was a common challenge, but in the DCS this particularly related to medical practitioners, psychologists and pharmacists. The Occupation Specific Dispensations (OSDs) were regulated throughout the public service, meaning no department could have a competitive edge over any other. However, they still had to contend with the exodus of skills abroad and to the private sector.
Mr Khoza presented a table, indicating the scale of the scarce skills problem, including details of filled, vacant and financed positions, as well as the vacancy rates for identified categories of scarce skills. The positions which were most relevant to rehabilitation were psychologists, of which there were 68 within the DCS, with 90 positions financed, giving a vacancy rate of 24,4%. There were 502 social workers within the DCS, while 606 positions were financed, giving a vacancy rate of 17,2%. Of the 286 vacant positions, 78 had been advertised on 20 July 2014, with some adverts having gone out previously, while others could not as the ads could not speak to their OSDs.
Recruitment and Retention Strategy on Scarce Skills
The DCS had a comprehensive strategy for the attraction and retention of scarce skills, although this was complicated by the context in which it had to be done. The recruitment strategies include:
- Effective human resource provisioning. This aims to determine the needs of employees through job requirement analysis which will yield the required competencies, recruitment directly from educational and professional institutions with competitive remuneration, and the possibility of ‘head hunting’ and bursaries;
- Induction to submerge recruits in the DCS’s culture and familiarise them with processes and environments;
- Placement. This seeks to align competencies with job requirements; and
- Granting of higher salaries, specifically at the top range of remuneration to aid in the recruitment of employees with the required competencies.
The retention strategies include:
· Analysing staff mobility and turnover trends, looking at environmental and personal factors contributing to staff turnover, including lack of growth opportunities or “career versus life balancing,” so that correctional measures can be implemented;
· Addressing the organisational culture, to determine employees’ perceptions and encourage pride in the institution;
· Improving employee wellness. Efforts here include the employee assistance programme, sport and recreation, and occupational health and safety;
· Provision of scarce skills and rural allowances. Additional allowances will be granted to qualifying employees along the prescribed tariffs;
· Training and career development;
· Provision of growth opportunities, including the development of an Employee Performance Management System, exchange opportunities with other countries, and the creation of personal development plans for each employee;
· Provision of support mechanisms such as team building programmes, to prevent employees feeling isolated in the work environment;
· A competitive remuneration system. The DCS plans to strive for payment based on market trends and employee worth. Counter offers will be available for retention, and there will be active participation in the creation of any OSDs to ensure the DCS’s needs are met;
· Rewarding of excellence. Both monetary and non-monetary rewards -- including recognition awards and the opportunity to work on special assignments with greater responsibilities;
· Provision for the enhancement of benefits, including on-site facilities such as crèches and gyms, flexible working hours and a competitive leave dispensation; and
· Maintaining sound employee relations through the timeous resolution of grievances and implementation of an employee relations strategy.
The DCS was also conducting exit management of service terminations, including exit interviews, to determine the reasons for staff attrition.
Obstacles to increasing the budget for rehabilitation
Ms Nandi Mareka, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DCS, said the Department receives an annual baseline allocation adjusted for inflation over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, and any additional funding would have to be acquired through the MTEF bidding process. Submitting the bid was not a guarantee of getting the funds, so the DCS wwould submit and motivate this by attending the various MTEF structures. Further, the DCS would ensure that it was represented by the responsible components of National Treasury at the general MTEF.
Since the general economic turndown, there had not been any MTEF guidelines indicating increases should be received by departments generally, but rather there had been budget cuts. The DCS had therefore presented to the Committee during the current financial year’s budget process that the environment in which the budget was to function was extremely limited. The MTEF guidelines indicated that to fund any policy directives, reprioritisation of funds would have to be made and the DCS had done so. The DCS had attended the 2015 bidding process, but it had not received any feedback on submissions. The indications were that the general inflationary increases would average around 5.3% for the next three financial years. The persistence of under-spending on the compensation of employees had been a contributing factor against increasing funding under the rehabilitation programme.
It was a fact that the DCS’ budget was under extreme pressure, because it was at the end of the criminal justice value chain and therefore had no control over the number of persons to be incarcerated in humane and secure conditions. In direct correlation, in terms of the White Paper, all offenders were to receive rehabilitation. A table detailing the DCS’ spending over the last two financial years showed a persistent under-spending on compensation of employees.
Ms Mareka said the MTEF technical guidelines indicate that no additional funding should be requested from the fiscus, and reallocation was advised. Despite this, the DCS had submitted bids to National Treasury, because with the current resources had been reprioritised continually over the recent past, an injection of funds was needed to allow for the implementation of critical policy directives. Reprioritisation had occurred under the rehabilitation programme -- for example, the R17 million reprioritised to capitalise the revamping of the agricultural and workshop programmes. This was not at the level the DCS wished it could be, but it had indicated to National Treasury that it would like to continue doing so in the absence of further funds.
The bids submitted to Treasury under the rehabilitation programme were for the revamping of the agricultural and workshop facilities, at R99 million in 2015/16, which had received R17 million worth of reprioritised funds. The DCS was of the opinion that not funding this area was counter-productive, because these facilities were capable of reducing the costs of the Department by allowing it to produce and even sell its own food and furniture. The revenue generated was cycled back into the fiscus and therefore it was not only developmental benefit for offenders, but the state directly benefits. A bid was also submitted for the material for the production of uniforms for offenders, where the bid was R45 million for 2015/16, and a reprioritisation had been submitted for endorsement.
Approximately three years ago, the DCS had reengineered its budget structure and the rehabilitation programme had been included for the first time in 2012/13. Internal discussions highlighted that the security officials working in the rehabilitation programmes’ costs were not included under this programme, as they fell under the incarceration programme. Therefore, the spending under the rehabilitation programme still did not reflect the full cost of rehabilitation efforts. This was being targeted for the 2016 MTEF process to restructure once again, to reflect the comprehensive spending for rehabilitation, rather than a split costing which could mislead the public. This was in an effort to account more accurately for the spending on rehabilitation efforts.
Partnerships to aid rehabilitation
Mr Smalberger concluded by detailing a variety of partnerships which the DCS had entered into, to aid in rehabilitation efforts. He said the partnerships and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to be outlined were only at a national level. If an organisation wanted to be involved at a particular correctional centre, then the application would go to an accreditation committee at that centre. If it wished to be involved at several centres, it will go to the regional accreditation committees. If the involvement was in three or more regions, then this would go to the national accreditation committee.
The DCS had partnered with the DBE for accreditation and assistance with educators. Several organisations had donated educational resources, such as the donation of books by Van Schaik, Oxford, Pearson and Vivlia publishers. The DCS had also partnered with funders to provide specific training, including the National Youth Development Agency, which trained 2 400 young offenders on career guidance and job preparedness programme.
The DCS had established partnerships with faith-based organisations involved in providing services and programmes to offenders, and assisting with the management of faith groupings within correctional service centres. Further, they had provided approximately 1 794 spiritual workers rendering services to prisoners. Established partners include Kara Development Ministries, African Traditional Religion, Rastafarians and Shembe Israel Vision, which had contributed to the development of spiritual care policy guidelines. Further specific partnerships include the Bible Society of SA, which annually donates bibles to offenders, and the training of spiritual care personnel by the Theological Department of UNISA.
The DCS had also established partnerships with service providers to aid in the running of the correctional programmes at correctional centres and community corrections, including the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Re-integration of Offenders (NICRO), which handles the pre-release and “Tough Enough” programmes; Khulisa, which runs the Crime Prevention Programme; and FAMSA, which renders relationship and “Anger in-Anger out” programmes.
The DCS had MOUs with the Departments of Arts and Culture and Sport and Recreation, and all major sporting federations, including the South African Football Association and various universities.
Mr Smalberger said there were agreements with UNISA to have students studying criminology to begin providing services to the DCS, such as assisting with sentence planning. There had also been discussions with other universities to involve their students with the DCS. Although the DCS was not where it wanted to be, it was confident that it would continue to work towards bettering the lives of those entrusted to its care.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) said he was concerned that prison was being perceived as a holiday, and asked what could be done to teach communities about this. He was concerned about the potential spread of unrest in prisons through media such as TV, and this was a worry for the DCS. How was the sentence plan, which was aimed at correcting the offending behaviours, properly planned without access to the sentencing remarks and judgement? He suggested that an arrangement should be made between the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development and Correctional Services, to ensure that offenders carried their judgements to corrections centres. Regarding dialogue between victim and offender, this raised the question of culture, because in African society this was done as a family unit and a variety of persons were involved in deciding what was appropriate. In the western system, however, it was after the sentence had been served that individual-based restorative attempts were made. He felt that the restorative justice view held by the communities needed to be understood and incorporated into the system. Regarding social workers and psychologists, his understanding was that in the sentence plan, their involvement was planned on a six monthly basis. However, this in reality happened only in the run up to parole or release, and he would like the DCS to attend to this, if it was the case. There were concerns with the DCS’s remuneration of social workers, as it did not compare even to other government departments, and he would like to know why. He said that the budget distribution was approximately 70% incarceration and 30% correction, particularly as there were income generating income activities, and he would like to know if was it compulsory or voluntary for prisoners to engage in work activities. He believed that it ought to be compulsory, as involvement in correctional work and would aid the fiscus. He was concerned about the impression that prisoners did not want to work or be corrected, and yet they were in a corrections facility. He was concerned that the focus of the efforts was on academic training, rather than technical skills, which he felt were more suitable for those involved, and the variety of technical skills available should be evenly spread between rural and urban centres. He felt the distribution of technical skills was imbalanced between rural and urban centres. His constituency had informed him of a new shift system which allowed for less than half of the security staff to be present at certain points.
Mr Smalberger replied that the perception that a correctional facility was a holiday was not shared by persons who had served time, but he agreed that the DCS must share information with communities to fight this perception. He noted the comments relating to social workers and their remuneration. On the voluntary nature of the programmes and work efforts, it was generally better to have a person working in a group voluntarily, to avoid the introduction of destructive elements. However, the White Paper makes it clear that the Commissioner can demand that a prisoner attend programmes, with the sanction of not allowing parole. There were instances where offenders refuse to attend programmes and simply serve their sentences, and these tended to be instances of recidivism. On technical training, the DCS had highlighted efforts with the National Skills Fund, but he agreed that more could be done. On the shift system, he said that deliberations between labour organisations and the inter-ministerial committee were still under-way.
Ms Pumla Mathibela, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Community Corrections, DCS, said upon incarceration the offender was made aware of the restorative justice programme. Once the offender had admitted a crime, the victim was traced for involvement, with the aid of correctional officials and the Foundation for Victims of Crime. The aim of the introduction of victim/offender dialogue was to place the victim at the centre of the correction process, because the focus had tended to be on the offender and their interaction with the state. The DCS had also realised that the direct victim was not the only person involved in this process and the indirect victims, including the victim’s families or communities, were also important. The next step was to prepare both the victim and the offender for mediation, facilitated by social workers and psychologists. The entire process was voluntary.
Mr Khoza said that the same salaries were paid by all departments, because they all used the same occupational specific dispensation. The only problem was that social workers were more easily able to move up the levels of the OSD.
Mr Mpumlwana said that in the high courts, all judgements were written and typed, so all that was required was to obtain a copy of them. He said he was more concerned about the family’s involvement in restorative justice, rather than the individuals.
Mr J Selfe (DA) said that he had heard very little different from what the Committee had been hearing for a long time, regarding the programmes being rolled out and the myriad of recurring challenges which the DCS seemed incapable of rectifying. The annual report recommended, as had been done previously, the reallocation of funds towards the rehabilitation and social re-integration programmes, because this was key to dealing with recidivism, which was the only way in which the success of the DCS could be measured in terms of correcting offending behaviour. The problem with the statistics provided was that they spoke only about attendance, but outcomes were not measured, so it was unknown if the programmes had had any effect on the behaviour of persons released to communities. Taking into account the small percentage of inmates who refused to attend these programmes, the rate of re-offending was between 65 and 90%, and this had to be attributed to the quality of the programmes. If people were incarcerated and not corrected, then the money may as well not be spent and inmates may as well be “warehoused”. He had heard that a measurement system for re-offending was under development, and he would like to know how far this had gone. Every year the Committee was told how few people got the opportunity to access the workshops and agricultural facilities, so the problem was not a lack of facilities -- although they may be out of date -- but the true problem was a lack of management will to ensure these were used. On the sentence plans, he asked when the sentence plan kicked in. He had a suspicion that aside from an initial security assessment, that rehabilitative interventions only really started happening when a person was transferred to a medium security facility. Specifically, he wanted to know what happened in maximum security facilities to rehabilitate offenders. In the research report done for the Committee, reference had been made to work which indicated that having a criminal record, and having spent any period of time in prison, became a categorical bar to employment. He said this bar would obviously lead to re-offending, and he had suggested during the budget process, that the criminal record for first time, non-violent offenders be kept confidential on condition that they did not re-offend. Commenting on the lack of budget for rehabilitation, he accepted the point that if the incarceration budget was disaggregated, elements of rehabilitation would arise. However, he was more concerned that the desired outcomes were produced, rather than where the money was accounted for.
Mr V Smith (ANC) said it appeared the DCS aimed to plead for money from National Treasury. This was simply not going to happen and budgets were more likely to be cut, so the focus ought therefore to be on reprioritisation. He suggested that the issues raised regarding human resources be parked, to be dealt with in a stand-alone meeting, because all the issues raised by Mr Khoza had been debated by the previous Committee and it would be unhelpful to raise these under another guise. He felt that the Department was merely trying to appease the new Committee, with issues like market- related salaries which were impossible in a government department with regulated remuneration. On the rehabilitation programmes he said that they were by nature very wide, but not very deep. There were approximately 60 000 sentenced prisoners, 70% of whom were young, African and unskilled, so he proposed that the extraneous programmes be combined and the focus made only on formal education, artisanal and agricultural skills. He felt that the target market in the prisons needed this the most.
The Chairperson said that Minister Ndebele had spoken of centres of excellence. If the Committee was happy with the above proposal, should it not be said that the correctional centres should become centres of excellence in the development of the skills as proposed?
Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) echoed the comments on the little change which had occurred in the Department. She felt that the programmes of the DCS were very scattered and what Mr Smith had suggested was reasonable. Perhaps the DCS ought to streamline the programmes and develop a plan to brief the Committee on the implementation thereof. With the large budget of the DCS -- R19 billion -- it was important to run correctional services in a cost efficient manner. She agreed with Mr Smith’s suggestion for a stand-alone meeting to deal with the human resource element, because looking at issues of staffing before the organisation was efficient, wouldl not yield results. She said that reports of dilapidated farms and workshops had been reported previously. However this had not changed and was an important means through which the DCS could cut its expenditure on food. She also raised concerns about the high vacancy rate, particularly regarding social workers and people with technical skills who were critical to the rehabilitative efforts.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) fully supported the sentiments Mr Selfe and Mr Smith and hoped the issues raised would be grappled with over the present term, and recommendations implemented. He asked what the figures were for recidivism, because this was how the success of rehabilitation was measured. He supported the spiritual care that was given across all faiths, because he felt this was a key to rehabilitation efforts when combined with education and skills development. He also wanted more information on the community involvement, particularly on how many of the planned six halfway houses had been set up. He appreciated the efforts towards restorative justice -- he would have thought that the victims would have already been involved through victim impact statements at sentencing, but he fully supported the victim-centred approach. All of the above issues went back to the human resources challenges which needed to be addressed at the appropriate time. He also suggested visits ought to be planned in the Committee programmes, perhaps even at night and on an unplanned basis, to better exercise its oversight functions. On the revenue generating activities, he would like to know of the extent of this and whether it was worth fighting for it to be ring-fenced for the Department, rather than cycled back into the national fiscus, as was done by the Competition Commission.
Ms M Mothapo (ANC) emphasised the importance of oversight visits, so that the Committee could have first-hand information of what had been presented. On partnerships, she said that organisations such as the Moral Regeneration Movement and traditional community structures should be allowed to play their vital role in rehabilitative efforts. She commended the DCS for including all faiths in their rehabilitation activities, and asked what “African traditional religion” meant. She wanted to know whether there had been follow up on the rehabilitation programmes for released offenders, and whether there could be an indication of the success rates for the rehabilitation programmes.
Mr B Bongo (ANC) agreed with Ms Pilane-Majake that the report was fairly similar to previous reports received by the Committee. He also agreed with Mr Smith’s suggestion that the programmes of the DCS should be focused on working within the allocated budget. A major benefit of the correctional services and justice Committees being merged was that it was possible to deal with employability of a person with a criminal record, which also affected re-offending. He suggested the DCS come up with a structured plan and propose it to the Committee on what could be done. He cited the case of S v R by Justice Kriegler, which stated that there were two types of offenders and these needed to be differentiated between those which could be reintegrated and those who were destined for prison. It would be in the spirit of that judgement to differentiate between a serious criminal record, and records of less serious offences.
Adv G Breytenbach (DA) asked whether the Department’s rehabilitation programmes had had any effect on recidivism and whether this had been measured.
Ms Pilane-Majake echoed Mr Selfe’s proposal to make a means for released offenders to be employed, and said perhaps the Committee or the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development should take this forward.
Mr Smith said that if the DCS was continually the recipient Department, it was not going to win. He suggested that an intensive campaign ought to be embarked on to lobby the judiciary, because a critical obstacle to rehabilitation was over-crowding. This overcrowding was due to minor offenders being sentenced to incarceration, rather than alternate sentences being imposed. If these alternate sentences could be imposed, then this would have a knock-on effect on rehabilitative efforts.
The Chairperson asked whether the DCS catered for what he termed “African reality,” which included things such as visitation by ancestral spirits, and asked if the Department provided for traditional healers to be present at correctional facilities, or other means which catered for this reality. During the election campaign, the DCS had partnered with progressive women’s organisations and the National Inter-Faith Council which visited prisons, and he had participated in one such session. When he spoke to people, he was told that they wanted to study, but there were no library facilities. He asked if the Department was dealing with this. He appreciated that the DCS was partnering with students, but he would like to see them interact with retired persons and organisations of professionals, to assist with rehabilitative programmes. On the arts and culture efforts, he said that many of the people in prison were badly raised, and this involved under-developed characters, so he suggested civic education about the culture and value system of the country. He was also concerned about children who were raised in prisons -- there ought to be a specialised and tangible programme to deal with them. This was because they had to deal with the stigma which came from growing up in prison with a parent who was incarcerated.
While much of the rehabilitative effort was concentrated within prisons, the Minister had spoken of a “plough back campaign” and partnerships with other government departments, towards a coordinated rehabilitation programme which would aid in ex-inmate employment. For example, this meant being trained in agriculture during incarceration and then being channelled through another department to be placed to work on a farm. He agreed on the focusing of the rehabilitation efforts, as suggested by Mr Smith, but he asked the DCS to formulate a plan to do this so that the Committee could support the DCS from an informed position.
On restorative justice, he said this was important for social cohesion, and the cultures of the country ought to be used as part of these efforts, and the values inherent in the various cultural systems prevalent in society should be taught in the process. On the halfway houses, he had been informed that in Gauteng alone, ten were needed and he encouraged the DCS to seek partnerships to see them established. He supported the notion that it was not fair that the income generated by the DCS was not used by the Department, but was rather sent to National Treasury. Mr Smith’s proposal that the judiciary be lobbied would require the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to be engaged, and this should be on the agenda for the Committee’s meeting with the Chief Justice. He said that the DCS need not fully respond to the Committee, as much of what had been raised had been common challenges which the Committee needed to work together with the Department to resolve.
Mr Smalberger, responding on alternative sentencing, said that of the roughly 160 000 inmates, 40 000 were awaiting trial detainees and 20% of these faced bail of less than R1 000. Therefore, if communities were involved, this bail could be paid and the people released. Of the sentenced prisoners, there were approximately 15 000 serving sentences of two years or less, and many of them had fines as an option, but the problem with alternative sentencing was that people needed to have fixed addresses and people who were willing to assume responsibility for these people. The DCS had begun engaging with the judiciary through a task team to bring these figures to light. Engagement with the Chief Justice was encouraged, and this would coincide with the engagements the DCS had already undertaken.
Several Members had raised concerns about the impact of correctional programmes, and the focus that had been generated under the impetus of the White Paper. Universities had indicated that the rehabilitation programmes needed to be running for at least ten years before a viable impact assessment could be done. Despite this, the DCS had persisted with efforts to measure the impact. The DCS had approached UNISA to assist in this study, which would start with the substance abuse programmes which had been in place for some time. The method would be a questionnaire which wwould be used to determine if the programme had failed, or if there had been some other societal factor at play, because rehabilitation could not be seen in isolation from society. If broader research was required, it would have to be factored into the budget for the 2015/16 financial year. He was not opposed to the suggestions of Mr Smith and other Members. However, the DCS sees rehabilitation as a complex process and believes that the impugned programmes were assisting in this process, but it was not opposed to a re-focusing. He agreed that the human resources matters were too complex to be brushed over and a separate meeting was welcomed. He also agreed with the Chairperson’s suggestion that the arts and culture aspect should incorporate a broader cultural and developmental education, especially as the White Paper had identified that many of the persons incarcerated come from dysfunctional backgrounds.
The Chairperson said on the research efforts by UNISA, there was an association of unemployed graduates who could be engaged to assist in this work, subsequent to training by the Human Sciences Research Council. This was particularly appropriate, as a single professor would not be able to cover the entire country.
Ms Pilane-Majake said that she was concerned with the outsourcing of the impact assessment by the Department. Surely there was a plan, with associated targets, which the DCS ought to be monitoring for its reporting to Parliament? This was particularly important, as it was the Department which was allocated the funds and needed to ensure they were being properly spent.
The Chairperson said the DCS should be given the benefit of the doubt and it should be assumed that such monitoring mechanisms were in place, but they had required additional capacity and had therefore engaged UNISA.
Mr Smalberger confirmed that there were such systems, but the previous Committee had indicated that a third party ought to be doing the assessment. Furthermore, the Department was not paying for this research, as it was part of the partnership MOU.
Ms Pilane-Majake said that confusion could be generated from the DCS responding with research, when the Members were concerned with impact. However, she welcomed UNISA’s involvement and said that the commissioned research could result in findings on how the DCS’s systems could be improved.
The Chairperson asked for figures on the numbers of people awaiting trial and the amount of bail required, to arm the Committee for its engagement with the Chief Justice.
Ms Mathibela said that there was a policy document on the restorative justice efforts of the DCS. On the employability of ex-offenders, the DCS agreed that this was a challenge. It had been raised with the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and furthermore, the DCS had been involved in efforts with NICRO to lobby for the reduction of the period for expungement in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. On community participation, the DCS has been instructed by the Ministry that this was a priority, particularly when it came to informing people about the work being done. On the question of halfway houses, she said that the only regions which had no halfway houses were the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal, and the regional offices were engaged in dealing with this. The importance of these houses lay in the absence of support structures for many prisoners, and re-integration was hampered by this. There were targets for both the restorative justice efforts and the halfway houses. The partnerships listed in the presentation were not exhaustive, and the DCS had engaged with the House of Traditional Leaders and the National Inter-Faith Council, which hopefully would result in MOUs.
Mr Smalberger said that the access cards to correctional facilities for Members would be looked into as this was clear in terms of the Correctional Services Act, and visits would be highly appreciated. He appreciated the advice about using retired professionals, and this would be looked into. Regarding the “plough back campaign” the Department would continue to act under the instructions of the Minister with efforts such as assisting families with housing and food. He also took the Chairperson’s point on food security.
The Chairperson said that with no budget increases anticipated, the DCS should plan its reprioritising efforts. It should also look into streamlining its rehabilitation programmes so that more could be dedicated to artisanal skill development and efforts such as the “plough back campaign”. The Committee should look into engagement with the Moral Regeneration Movement and traditional leaders to enhance the rehabilitative efforts.
The meeting was closed.
- DCS Partnerships with Community, Religious, Non-Governmental Organizations, Organs of State to Extent Rehabilitation Services
- Obstacles to increase the Rehabilitation budget
- Report on Rehabilitation 2009 - 2014
- Overview to Portfolio Committee: Rehabilitation Efforts Department of Correctional Services.