19k prisoners to get a parole to ensure social distancing amid COVID-19

SA Prisoners
South African prisoners, in orange uniforms, registering to vote in the 2004 elections at Pretoria Correctional Services. Pic: Dudu Zitha. © ST.

Offenders may be arrested and ultimately reincarcerated if they violate their release conditions

President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorized the placement on parole of selected categories of sentenced offenders as a measure to combat the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities, which are considered high-risk areas for infection.

Ramaphosa took this step in response to a call by the United Nations to all countries to reduce prison populations so that social distancing and self-isolation conditions can be observed during this period.

“In South Africa, as in many other countries, correctional facilities have witnessed outbreaks of coronavirus infections among inmates and personnel,” the Presidency said.

“A number of countries across the world have already heeded the call by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and have released a number of offenders in detention,” they added.

EBNewsDaily learned that approximately 19,000 inmates could find themselves relieved in prison out of a population of 155,000.

The Presidency says the parole dispensation will apply to low-risk inmates who have passed their minimum detention period or will approach this period in the coming five years.

Meanwhile, the dispensed prisoners will continue to serve their sentences under Community Corrections until they reach their respective sentence expiry dates.

“Offenders may be arrested and ultimately reincarcerated if they violate their release conditions,”

This placement of qualifying sentenced offenders will take place over a 10-week period and will commence after the Parole Board processes have been finalised and ‘all relevant rehabilitation and pre-release programmes are attended’.

SOURCE: ebnewsdaily.co.za

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