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Budget Vote Debate 17th May 2017, Department of Justice and Correctional Services Vote 18, Hon. Gijimani Skosana MP (ANC) in the National Assembly

"Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration"

Honourable House Chairperson;

Hon Minister of Justice and Correctional Services;

Hon Deputy Minister responsible for Correctional Services;

Hon Members and Distinguished guests

The African National Congress rises in support of Budget Vote on Correctional Services.

The late South African reggae singer, Lucky Dube paints us a picture in his hit song titled "Prisoner". The lyrics are as follows:

The Freedom Charter called for imprisonment to only be for serious crimes against the people and aim at re-education and not vengeance. As we were preparing to govern, we, as the ANC declared our belief that a prison service for the country must play its part not simply in restraining convicts but in rehabilitating convicted persons. This is because we understood that overcrowded and authoritarian jails are crime factories which dehumanise their inmates, feeding a culture of violence and despair. The ANC committed itself to turning prisons into correctional centres.

Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of offenders is the cornerstone of corrections.

Without effective programmes that help offenders mend their ways and up-skill themselves, we are not going to be able to deal with the problem of repeat offending (or what is referred to as recidivism).

It is said that the largest number of people in correctional centres today, would have been arrested and convicted for some offence in the past (up to 90% of them). This means that they are repeat offenders.

So the biggest challenge of corrections, above all, is rehabilitation, followed by social reintegration. The latter is important because if prisoners are released to conditions that are not conducive to reintegration, they reoffend.

The Rehabilitation Programme complements the other DCS programmes with needs-based services and interventions that are supposed to facilitate offender rehabilitation and enable offenders' social reintegration once they are released from incarceration.

The Rehabilitation Programme is the second smallest allocated programme in this budget, with only 8 per cent of the total allocation to the Department in 2018/19.

This programme has been allocated an amount of R1,8 billion which represents a nominal increase of 2.13 per cent as compared to the 2017/18 allocation.

The budget will reach R2.2 billion over the MTEF (2020/21 financial year).

The sub-programmes are allocated as follows: Offender Development: R859 million); Correctional Programmes: R535.2 million and Psychological, Social and Spiritual Services sub-programme: R466.7 million.

The Department has always done well in achieving targets under the Offender Development sub-programme as it achieved all its targets last year. There was a larger percentage of sentenced offenders involved in correctional programmes- such as further education and training, skills development and psychological and spiritual services.

Chapter 12 of the NDP talks about building safer communities and emphasises the role the DCS should play in improving rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. It is under this imperative that as the Committee, we continue to encourage the Department to gradually reprioritise its resource towards rehabilitation.

It is indeed a decade of huge success for Formal Education in Correctional Services following an achievement of 76.7 percent matric pass rate in the 2017 academic year, an improvement of 4.6% from the 2016 academic year. For the third time in a row, the Department has surpassed the 70% national average pass threshold, and four schools recorded a 100 pass. This is a huge milestone for DCS as it registered the highest number of matriculants (233) since the inception of formal education in 2007 - when it only had one school with 21 inmates.

The 76.7% pass rate is comprised of 48 admission to bachelor's degree, 55 admission to Diplomas and 39 admission to higher certificates. This is an enormous improvement when compared to the 2016 academic year as it only registered 40 bachelors, 47 diplomas and 12 certificate pass respectively.

Last year the allocation to rehabilitation was increased substantially. However this did not happen this year. But the Committee understands the economic situation across government given the spending cuts.

As a form of rehabilitation, we also support the Ministers' reintroduction of offender labour to help with minor maintenance of DCS infrastructure.

We understand that rehabilitation is not the responsibility of Correctional Services alone. In this regard, the NDP says that;

"The country should address rehabilitation through correctional services from an institutional point of view, and in society, through community and societal transformation processes. Active citizenry, an efficient criminal justice system and effective coordinated partnerships with civil society and the private sector are key components of a sustainable strategy for citizen safety".

We therefore encourage the work of the DCS with civil society organisations and the society at large in dealing with rehabilitation and social re-integration. We also encourage the cooperation of various government departments in dealing with the social causes of crime which are largely accounted for by underdevelopment.

DCS has the Social Reintegration programme which focuses on offenders' preparation for release, supervision of those placed under the community corrections systems and offender reintegration back into communities. This programme is allocated R898.9 million of the 2018/19 budget- the smallest percentage --3.7 per cent.

The reintegration programme is important in that it enables rehabilitated offenders to become part of society again. It should however go beyond this to include economic reintegration where they can use the skills they learnt while inside in the farms and Correctional Services workshops. This is why as the Committee, we have requested the Department of Correctional Services to work closely with the Department of Small Businesses to form cooperatives where ex-offenders undergoing reintegration could be employed and pass on their skills.

I thank you.

     
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