Correctional Supervision and Parole: National Council for Correctional Services; Department of Correctional Services 1 Quarter 2016/17

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Justice and Correctional Services

02 November 2016
Chairperson: Dr M Motshekga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

DCS Delegation:
Mr Terence Raseroka, DCS Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Management
Mr Smalberger, DCS Chief Deputy Commissioner: Incarceration and Corrections
Mr Piet de Bruin, DCS Director of Pre-Release Resettlement
Ms Veliswa Mvandaba, DCS Deputy Commissioner: Social Reintegration
Mr Nick Ligege, DCS Chief Financial Officer
Mr Joseph Katenga, DCS Chief Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Management
Ms Noluthando Tsetsewa, NCCS Secretariat & Ministry Special Adviser 
Ms Andronicca Mabunda, DCS Assistant and Secretary for the Parliamentary Office
Peter Nthotso, Director: National Council for Correctional Services Support

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) noted that 67% of targets were achieved in the Administration, 50% was achieved in Incarceration, 88% in Rehabilitation, 100% in Care, and 50% in Social Reintegration Programmes. The challenges encountered in these programmes include corrupt practices by officials, poor infrastructure, escapes from correctional and remand facilities, injuries to inmates resulting from assaults, overcrowding, and poor record keeping. Other challenges are inability to meet the target number of parolees under the electronic monitoring system, inability to meet the target of inmates involved in restorative justice processes, and low numbers of inmates reintegrated into communities through Halfway House partnerships. The DCS 2016/17 budget was reduced by R281 million.
 
Members welcomed the presentation. They sought clarification on the DCS’s anti-corruption measures, procurement process, overcrowding, additional bed spaces for inmates, manual method of data compilation, performance bonuses, and expenditure figures for the Rehabilitation programme. They also asked about the extent of consultations with victims’ families in the parole process, how offenders who plead innocence are handled, Halfway Houses, statistics of persons who cannot meet bail of below R5000, and the implication of the Van Wyk Judgment on community perceptions of punishment. They expressed concern at the poor infrastructural condition of some correctional and detention facilities, the high number of unfilled vacancies in the DCS, the viability of the electronic tagging project, and the reintegration of parolees into society. A member suggested that Halfway Houses are better administered by non-profit organisations.

DCS disclosed that it has 3 900 staffing vacancies. About 160 000 people are incarcerated, and the DCS has no direct control over overcrowding. By March 2017, 925 correctional facilities will have increased bed spaces and it plans to fill its vacancies. The DCS austerity measures were explained, stressing that bonuses are not paid to Senior Management Service members. The electronic tagging project is being sabotaged by offenders who deliberately damage or lose their tags, or refuse to charge the batteries of the tags. Members gave the delegation 21 days to submit a report on DCS anti-corruption efforts as well as bail statistics.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), set out the agenda and called on Ms Pilane-Majake to chair the meeting.

Department of Correctional Services (DCS) on its 1st Quarter performance
Mr Joseph Katenga, Chief Deputy Commissioner of Strategic Management, noted programme performance: Programme One: Administration, 67% of the targets were achieved. The key challenges encountered in this programme are corrupt practices by officials and poor infrastructure.
Programme Two: Incarceration, 50% of the targets were achieved. The components of this programme are security operations, facilities, remand detention, and offender management. The challenges are escape from correctional centres and remand facilities, injuries to inmates resulting from assaults, and overcrowding.
Programme Three: Rehabilitation, 88% of the targets were achieved. The programme components are correctional programmes, offender development, and psychological, social and spiritual services. The notable challenge here is poor record of offenders who participate in educational programmes.
Programme Four: Care, 100% of the targets were achieved. The programme components are health and hygiene services and nutritional services.
Programme Five: Social Reintegration, 50% of the targets were achieved. The programme components are supervision, community reintegration, and office accommodation. Challenges here include inability to meet the target number of parolees placed under the electronic monitoring system, inability to meet the target of inmates that participated in restorative justice processes, and low numbers of inmates reintegrated into communities through Halfway House partnerships.

Mr Nick Ligege, DSC CFO, explained the First Quarter Financial Report under five parts:
Part A: 2016/17 budget allocation, which was reduced by R281 million
Part B: Summary of 1st Quarter Expenditure for 2016/17
Part C: Summary of 1st Quarter Expenditure per programme for 2016/17
Part D: Summary of 1st Quarter Expenditure per Economic Classification for 2016/17 
Part E: Cost containment measures (see document for details).

Discussion
Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) thanked the delegation for its presentation. She asked DCS to explain its water management measures in the light of the Committee’s complaint that its water bills are excessive. She remarked that DCS has improved on its anti-corruption measures. However, she called for better strategies, noting that the fight against corruption must be seen to be realistic. She queried the performance of 100% on the Care Programme.

Mr W Horn (DA) thanked DCS and asked for feedback on the problem of additional bed spaces for inmates, noting that no new spaces have been created in the reporting year. He queried the reliability of the performance indicators in the light of the manual method of data compilation. He also queried performance bonuses. Are these bonuses budgeted for? What is the impact of unfilled vacancies on performance? Mr Horn asked about the challenges raised by electronic tagging. Many of these tags are in a state of disrepair, making the monitoring of parolees questionable. He wondered whether the electronic tagging project should be considered a failure.

Mr B Bongo (ANC) commended DCS. He sought clarity on the expenditure figures of the Rehabilitation Programme.

Ms G Breytenbach (DA) queried the report on overcrowding, given that DCS seems to have no control over overcrowding. She sought statistics on the number of persons who are granted bail.

Ms M Mothapo (ANC) commended the marginal over expenditure incurred by DCS, as well as its austerity measures, especially cuts on travels and use of video conferences. She sought feedback on allegations of corruption in the hiring process in Polokwane. She expressed concern at the high number of vacancies, given some resignations in DCS and the need to recruit specialists such as psychologists.

Ms Pilane-Majake commended DCS for getting an unqualified audit after 22 years, noting its austerity measures such as less use of consultants. She expressed concern at the poor infrastructural condition of some correctional centres and detention facilities, noting that inmates can learn skills such as painting that can be utilised in maintaining infrastructure.

Mr Smalberger replied that about 160 000 people are incarcerated. He admitted that DCS has no direct control over its overcrowding target. Treasury uses statistics on incarcerated offenders to determine the DCS budget. Close attention is paid to special remand detainees. About 15-17% of the 40 000 remanded inmates cannot afford to meet their bail conditions.
 
Ms Breytenbach asked DCS to provide, at its convenience, statistics on the number of persons who have been granted bail of R5000 and below but cannot afford bail.

Mr Smalberger promised to grant Ms Breytenbach’s request in writing. He explained that 925 correctional facilities will be provided with increased bed spaces. Additional bed spaces are planned in the financial year and are on course to be delivered by March 2017. Plans are underway to use inmates in rehabilitating the infrastructure of correctional facilities. Interviews have been held on filling vacancies in DCS and the candidates will be selected by the end of the year.

The Chief Financial Officer, Mr Ligege, explained that performance bonuses are budgeted on an annual basis. However, DCS does not pay bonuses to Senior Management Service members. Due to austerity measures, DCS decided to review all core functions and all unfunded positions in order not to exceed its budgetary allocations.

Ms Pilane-Majake remarked that the vacancies are too high for DCS to perform at an optimal level. She asked for the statistics on the categories of vacancies.

Mr Ligege stated that the vacancies are around 4000, and promised to provide concrete statistics. He explained that DCS has improved due process in its procurement processes.

Mr Katenga stated that errors are increasingly reduced in the data compilation process of the performance indicators. He replied that there are 3 900 vacancies in DCS.

The Acting Chairperson stated that 3 900 is too high for DCS to perform optimally.

Mr Smalberger promised to provide a report in writing on DCS’s anti-corruption measures.

Ms Mothapo suggested a timeline of 21 days for this anti-corruption report to be submitted to the Committee.

Ms Pilane-Majake agreed, restating that the anti-corruption fight should be more transparent and practical.

A DCS official explained that the electronic tagging project is being sabotaged by offenders who deliberately damage or lose their tags, or refuse to charge the batteries of the tags. Unfortunately, the service provider can only fix damaged electronic tags in Israel. DCS has instituted disciplinary measures against offenders who damage or lose their tags. It has also set up an audit committee to review the electronic tagging project.

Ms Pilane-Majake wondered whether due diligence was carried out before the tagging project commenced. She requested for the due diligence report, as well as statistics on damage and loss of electronic tags.

The DCS official explained that offenders who damage their tags are classified as high risk offenders and often placed under house arrest. She promised to provide a report on this.

Ms Pilane-Majake, the Acting Chairperson, sought clarity on internal audit processes as well. She called for a briefing on Parole Administration.

Parole Administration by National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS)
Ms Noluthando Tsetsewa, Head: NCCS Secretariat and Special Adviser in the Ministry, explained the composition, tenure, remuneration and duties of the National Council for Correctional Services. The Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board is selected from the NCCS and consists of a judge as chairperson, a director of Public Prosecutions or nominee, a member of the DoJ&CD, a person with special knowledge of the correctional system, and two representatives of the public. The NCCS meets monthly. It has representatives on the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board, which meets on a need basis. Lifer profiles finalised for the 2014, 2015, 2016 years are 163, 476, and 308 respectively. The NCSS is currently reviewing the Policy on Sale of Offender Arts and Craft, Restorative Justice Policy, and Minimum Security Standard policy (installation of CCTV cameras within cells). Since assuming office in June 2016, the current NCCS has visited Kgosi Mampuru II (Observation of CMC and CSPB sittings) and the Tswelopele Correctional Centre (viewing of the control room).

Mr Piet de Bruin, DCS Director of Pre-Release Resettlement, stated that DCS has introduced a new policy to include community members in the decisions of the Parole Board. He noted that there are 53 Parole Boards nationwide. He identified challenges to include compilation of profile reports, conversion of supervision sentences, Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA), requirements for lifers, relationships between the case management, review of the parole system, and filling of vacancies/extension of contracts.

Ms Veliswa Mvandaba, Deputy Commissioner for Social Reintegration, explained the Community Corrections System. The total number of offenders under this system is 69 722.

Discussion
Mr Horn remarked that society’s view on parole is influenced by high profile cases. He requested the number of decisions of the Parole Board that are taken on review and how successful they are.

Mr Bongo sought an update on reintegration of parolees into society, especially on their employment chances. He asked for progress on victim-offender relations and the extent to which civil society organisations are involved in the parole process.

Ms Mothapo asked if DCS takes into consideration the distinction between orthodox and unorthodox illnesses, citing the example of spirit possession. She asked about the status of special dispensation for political prisoners and whether there are outreach programmes on the parole system. She asked the extent of consultations with victims’ families in the parole process, and how offenders who plead innocence are handled.

Dr M Motshekga (ANC) sought clarity on the DCS procurement process, especially issuing of tenders.

Ms Pilane-Majake expressed concern over the implication of the Van Wyk Judgment on the community’s perception of crime.

The delegation explained that the 1998 Correctional Services Act ensured that offenders sentenced to life incarceration before 1 October 2004 served a minimum detention period of 20 years before being eligible for consideration for placement on parole. The effect of the Van Wyk Judgment is to change the minimum detention period for offenders sentenced to life before 1 October 2004 [to 13 years and 4 months] prior to being eligible for consideration for placement on parole. The current legislation is very prescriptive on the status of offenders serving life sentences.

On victims, parole boards are required to consider the views of all role players, especially victims. There are cases where the Parole Board has ruled against placement on parole based on the views of victims.

On the Wits Justice Project stance regarding offenders who claim innocence, DCS does not regard remorse as the only criterion for grant of parole.

On special dispensation for political prisoners, DCS only plays a supporting role to the Department of Justice. If political detainees comply with all the requirements of parole, they are considered for placement.

On victim-offender dialogues, community role players such as churches, traditional leaders, and village associations are involved. There are outreach programmes in communities that educate communities about the parole system. Imbizos are also held in which the chairs of parole boards participate. Halfway houses are useful for partnering with non-profit organisations and placating families that are unwilling or unprepared to welcome offenders.

Dr Motshekga suggested that Halfway Houses are better administered by non-profit organisations.

Ms Pilane-Majake asked who makes the determination on a detainee’s inability to fund bail.

The delegation explained that the determination is primarily made by the court. DCS checks whether it can monitor a person granted bail and reports back to the court.

Closing
Ms Pilane-Majake, the Acting Chairperson, stated that discussions will not be held on the parole system presentation. She thanked DCS delegation and closed the meeting at 12:05 pm.
 

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