Longer jail terms do have an impact on rehabilitation and only those who serve short periods commit a crime again after being released on parole, says Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.
“It appears that jail time does not make a big impact on those who have been in prison for three to six months.
“The prisoners who have served long terms usually become good citizens. Many of them came out and contributed to the economy, ”Lamola said at the ANC’s birthday celebrations in Kimberley last week.
Lamola is appalled at the nationwide concern that criminals are again trespassing while on parole, as was the case with the murder of Jesse Hess and her grandfather Chris Lategan in Parow last year.
The suspected killer was released on parole in December 2018. He served a sentence for rape.
The bodies of Hess, 18, a first-year theology student at the University of the Western Cape, and Lategan, 85, were found on August 30 in their apartment in the Beaumont apartment building in Parow. The suspect was arrested on Struisbaai.
Albert Fritz, Western Cape Community Safety MEC, then asked that criminals convicted of violent crime such as murder and rape should not be eligible for parole.
According to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) annual reports in 2017-’18 as well as 2019, only 1% of criminals who were released on parole again committed crime.
In 2017-’18, it was 610 out of 54,225 released on parole (1.1%) and in 2018-’19 it was 543 out of a total of 55,030 (0.9%). Most serial offenders were those behind bars for only a short time.
Lamola says his department is trying to train prisoners in “appropriate behavior” and skills through special programs and sessions so that they can reconnect with communities. A wide variety of training programs are offered and more and more prisoners participate in rehabilitation programs.
In 2018, Lamola’s department also worked hard to get more young people behind bars for the matriculation exam. In that year, the pass rate among prison matrices was 77%. Last year 82% of the 161 matrics succeeded in prisons.
The department offers several skills programs to increase these matrices’ independence and help them gain work experience before being released, Lamola said.
At the same time, Lamola has patience with the prosecution of state leaders. “Allow law enforcement officers to do their job without any undue influence. If we put political pressure on them, they can make mistakes that harm the process.
“We are going to give the National Prosecuting Authority and law enforcement officers all the resources and support they need to do their job. They will have to decide whether to prosecute or not, it is their decision based on the facts before them without any undue political influence or pressure from society. “
In principle, it does not matter who has transgressed. “The law should be applied without fear or favor, regardless of your position in society.”
The Zondo Commission, which asked the Pretoria High Court to extend its deadline, should be given the opportunity to do its job thoroughly.
“We are not going to pressure the commission to quickly complete its work without due process, without following its frame of reference.
“We are aware of the application and will consider it. We were already in talks with Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. We want the commission to do its job. We hope there will be finality in the end, ”says Lamola.