“Convict freed early, now held for rape” by Zaa Nicholson (Cape Times, July 13, 2012)
According to this article today –
- 71 of the 40,365 offenders released from prison have been re-arrested on charges of rape, attempted murder, robbery, assault, kidnapping, possession of stolen goods and housebreaking.
- Correctional Services spokesperson Simphiwe Xako was quoted saying “as much as the Constitution provides for the department to be the custodian of offenders, they have to be released once they have been rehabilitated. We play our role in the rehabilitation of offenders but there are various dynamics with human beings so some offenders do commit crimes again.”
As I sit and ponder about life and what’s going on in our beautiful country I have to ask: does Correctional Services actually have a long-term rehabilitation plan for offenders? If yes, what exactly is the plan and why is it not working? If there is a plan and it is not working, what is being done about it?
If there is no long-term rehabilitation plan in place for offenders, why not? Isn’t it time a plan is put in place? Surely you cannot remove an offender from society for however long the prison term is and expect him/her to just walk back into society as if he/she never left?
The offender has to learn to socialise and reintegrate with family and society as a whole again just as much as his/her family and society has to learn to accept this person back as part of the family or society. The offender would need help in finding suitable employment which is extremely difficult for those who have a good education and no criminal record – how much more difficult is it not for someone who has a criminal record?
Budget cuts – the latest buzz word these days on everyone’s lips. Yes, those in power always think they know best but do they realise that cutting budgets means that essential services are not provided? Surely skills development for an offender is just as important as it is for those who don’t offend and who don’t have a criminal record? We have people with undergraduate and even post graduate degrees working as waiters in eating establishments, yet we expect those with criminal records to just walk out of prison and straight back into life as if nothing happened since they left.
Aaah, but you say “there is Nicro and FAMSA (and others)”. Yes, they are doing the best they can to help, but with limited funding, there is only so much they can do.
According to our wonderful Constitution, South Africa belongs to all who live in it which might be true, but how can we feel safe and protected when offenders are just “let loose” on society with no thought (or very little thought) for the innocent ones living in the very same country.
I’m just saying . . .
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