News Alert: S.Africa: Thousands of Prisoners to be set free (again)
- From: WWW.AfricanCrisis.Org
[I have lost count long ago of how many prisoners the ANC has set free
during its ten years of rule. Most of us hate this. They claim the
prisons are too full - and yet experience has shown that setting them
free only brings on more crime. I have long said this is Government of
ours loves crime and loves criminals. Jan]
THOUSANDS of prisoners will be released from prisons in three weeks' time
as the correctional services department begins implementing special
remission of sentences, Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour
said yesterday in Cape Town.
There will be remission of up to 20 months of a prisoner's sentence
depending on the crime committed.
The remission of sentences will help reduce the country's prison
population of 180000, housed in prisons built to accommodate 114000.
Under the amnesty announced by Balfour yesterday, six months' remission
of sentence will be granted to prisoners, including those on parole,
irrespective of the crime.
An extra 14 months will be granted to those guilty of crimes other than
violent crimes, which include murder, robbery, domestic violence and
Balfour said the first two weeks would be put aside for administrative
work and for counting and identifying offenders who qualified for
Spokesman Manelisi Wolela said women, youths, children, people older than
65 and the disabled would be the first to be released, from June 13.
"The only people to be released during the first two weeks are those
serving their sentences under correctional supervision in community
corrections, to create space for those to be released from the third week
onwards from correctional centres to community corrections," Wolela
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said the across-the-board remission sent out
the wrong message.
"It undermines the deterrence of imprisonment, it trivialises the
sentences of courts and it is a slap in the face for the hundreds of
thousands of victims of crime in SA," the DA's James Selfe said.
He accused Balfour of emptying prisons to make room for awaiting-trial
"The presence of 51000 awaiting-trial detainees in our prisons (roughly
30% of the total number of inmates) is the real problem that government
steadfastly refuses to solve," said Selfe.