Alex Mitchley
2 minute read
6 Jul 2015
10:00 am

Parole must be assessed correctly – Masutha

Alex Mitchley

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has suggested that the parole boards across the country are lacking in making professional and independent decisions when granting parole to prisoners.

FILE PICTURE: Justice Minister Mike Masutha. Picture: GCIS/SAPA

Speaking at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg, Masutha announced that a task team is to be set up to evaluate the entire process. He added that a new parole framework will have to be developed.

Masutha spoke about the importance of assessing parole correctly. He stressed that focusing on the rights of offenders is not enough.

“What about the victim? How can we say that we are a just society by only considering the rights of offenders, and have absolute disregard for victims?

“We cannot consider the parole application of any offender which does not show that the victims were consulted,” Masutha said.

“Our parole boards must operate in a more professional, and independent, manner, to enable them to make quality decisions that will stand [up] in any court of law,” Masutha said on Friday.

The minister said there are numerous inmates who should have long been on parole, but still remain incarcerated due to our own administrative inefficiencies.

“How successful are our rehabilitation programmes if there are offenders, who have been incarcerated for more than 20 years, who cannot be considered for parole?”

“A new framework needs to be developed for parole in South Africa, including benchmarking ourselves against international best practice.”

Adding to the development of the parole system, the minister said that all chairpersons of the parole boards will be given a 12-month contract to bring stability and create space for the review of the parole system.

He also gave the administration two months within which to resolve and settle a series of human resources management challenges facing the chairpersons and their deputies.

Masutha spoke about the importance of assessing parole correctly and if rehabilitation programmes have had the desired impact on inmates, before parole is considered to protect the rights of victims which “matter just as much as that of offenders”.

“The aim of crime is to produce victims. It cannot be that we talk about human rights, and associated values, but all that we focus on is those who caused the pain.”

“What about the victim? How can we say that we are a just society by only considering the rights of offenders, and have absolute disregard for victims? We cannot consider the parole application of any offender which does not show that the victims were consulted.”

Masutha also said the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) have to ensure that inmates are able to become socially independent as offenders “remain economically, and socially, imprisoned for life due to the issue of criminal records”.

“However, it is also pleasing to note that more than 94% of offenders released on parole do not violate their parole conditions and this number is continuously increasing.”

In reviewing the entire parole system, the task team will look at the possibility of implementing a separate Parole Act, with guidelines and procedures on decision-making, victim participation, hearing procedures as well as risk assessment tools

alexm@citizen.co.za