19 000 Low-Risk Prisoners to Be Released

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The novel Covid-19 pandemic might have been a blessing for some. Despite the world at large battling to adjust to changes, the virus has probably came in handy for some.

This is just after an announcement that was made by Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola about 19 000 prisoners who are set to be released earlier than they were supposed to.

This would not apply to many though, Lamola said about 19,000 low-risk offenders may qualify to be released from prisons across the country.

This is also as attempt to decrease the prison population by about 12%, reducing overcrowding to avoid possible contamination considering that some prisoners were confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Minister said this during a media briefing on Friday afternoon after President Cyril Ramaphosa made an announcement on the authorisation of parole for selected categories of sentenced inmates as a measure to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

The president however, made it clear through a statement that this would only apply to low-risk inmates who have already served their minimum sentence.

According to the National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Arthur Fraser, these inmates include people who have committed petty crimes and “crimes of needs” like shoplifting, theft and trespassing.

He said thorough consultation and consideration was made to make sure that prisoners who were thrown behind bars for violent crimes don’t get to benefit from this.

Minister Lamola said the department was confronted with the “glaring impossibility” of maintaining social distancing in prisons due to overcrowding. He said the overcrowding in prisons was as a result of criminality, unemployment, substance abuse and poverty.

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