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DA: Statement by James Selfe, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of correctional services, on satellite tracking devices (09/03/2010)

9th March 2010

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the viability studies being conducted by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) into satellite tracking devices which monitor probationers and parolees. This process however, needs to be speeded up and prioritised as these devices would both enhance rehabilitation and reduce prison overcrowding.

In response to a parliamentary question this morning, the minister stated that the satellite tracking devices for monitoring probationers and parolees is being investigated. The minister stated that this system can only be implemented once start up funding has been secured and that the cost to manufacture devices would only be known after the commencement of a tender process. The Department now needs to stop dragging its heels on this, secure funding and put it out to tender as soon as possible.

These tracking devices would provide an efficient way to ensure that offenders do not break their parole conditions. Some 15 000 offenders were readmitted for breaking parole conditions that were not crime related in 2008/2009.

The implementation of the tracking devices is important for three reasons:

It would assist in reducing the prison population level, which is currently at 143%. Overcrowded conditions at correctional centres are well documented, and 23 centres in South Africa experience an occupancy rate of over 200%;
It would enhance rehabilitation and make correction possible, as minor offenders would be able to serve out their sentence without being drawn into gangsterism and crime within the prisons and return to society more damaged than when they entered;
It would provide the courts with a viable sentencing alternative to prison, especially for offenders that pose a limited danger to society;

In light of all the advantages that a satellite monitoring system would bring to the DCS, it is imperative that it is given every attention so that it is implemented as soon as possible and so that the problems facing the DCS can start to be addressed. I will be writing to the Minister to urge her to give this her utmost attention.

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