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CHILD JUSTICE BILL: Department of Correctional Services. I INTRODUCTION

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Presentation Transcript
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I INTRODUCTION
  • The purpose of Correctional Services is to, amongst others ensure the preservation of human development of all prisoners and persons subject to Community Corrections. It is therefore ideal for Correctional Services to uphold the objectives of the Child Justice Bill in dealing with children.
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Correctional Services upholds the principle of children not to be detained in prison except as a disposition of last resort and for the minimum period necessary.
  • Currently, as on 31 December 2002, there were 2371 unsentenced and 1765 sentenced children in prison. There were also 1727 probationers and parolees who are children within our Community Corrections system.
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II LEGISLATIVE AND POLICY FRAMEWORK
  • Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 does provide for child offenders. The need thus will exist for the Act to be aligned with the Child Justice Bill including Correctional Services Youth Policy. Policy indicators have to be identified and community participation to be co- ordinated and well managed.
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III SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
  • Correctional Services Act 14 of 1996 provides for children under 14 years not to be detained in prison awaiting trial.
  • The Departmental Orders also provide for children to be referred to a medical doctor for age verification or for acquisition of a legal document as proof of birth, in case of doubt.
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Systems and processes on age verification are to be put in place to allow for timeous interventions, accelerated placements, referrals and for community participation by parents/family, communities of origin, NGO’s, other state departments, etc.
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IV PROGRAMMES
  • A specific model of intervention is in place to cater for the needs of all offenders, including children, which model promotes:

* Programmes that are informed by needs.

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* A multi-disciplinary assessment process which ensures that the offending behaviour and root causes of the crimes are addressed, as well as to ensure that the programmes are age appropriate and meet the life tasks of these children.
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* Compilation of a sentence/correctional plan for the duration of the period in prison. The sentence plan will include a range of activi-ties and programmes aimed at correcting the offending behaviour, development of the children in terms of education, vocational skills, spiritual enlightenment, mental health, life skills and enhancement of social interaction as well as care programmes which are human rights based and which address the basic needs of these young offenders.
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* After-care by conducting pre-release programmes and programmes linking with support systems for after release.

* Tools to measure the impact of programmes and determining readiness for release.

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V TRAINING
  • Training of officials dealing with young offenders is being addressed by Correctional Services. Officials will have to be offered ongoing training on the Bill, Departmental Acts, Regulations and Policies, Restorative Justice and specialised training on dealing with the young offenders.
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VI RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
  • Restorative Justice approach was launched by Correctional Services during 2002 to encourage reintegration of offenders by involving their families, communities and victims. The work document is available.
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VII BUDGETARY IMPLICATIONS
  • Correctional Services has the potential for cost savings, with the following budgetary implications:

* Amendments of the Act where necessary.

* Training of officials on the new Act.

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* Reinforcing of human resources, within Community Corrections.

* Marketing of Community Corrections system.

* Currently there are 1956 officials in the Community Corrections system, (163 social workers). There are 2079 number of financed posts and the official probationer ratio of 1:37.

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VIII BENEFITS TO DCS
  • Potential for contributing to the alleviation of overcrowding.
  • Enhancement of integrated approach and collaboration (inter- departmentally and with civil society).
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IX CHALLENGES
  • Overcrowding which undermines effective programme and service delivery.
  • Community Corrections capacity to be reinforced and marketed for effectiveness and credibility by courts of law.
  • Training of officials.
  • Community participation for effectiveness and sustainability of programmes and services.
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X CONCLUSION
  • The Department of Correctional Services supports the Child Justice Bill, in particular the following:

* Inter-sectoral cooperation

* Restorative Justice sentences and sentences involving Correctional Supervision.

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* Preference to release children, then bail and custody as a measure of last resort.

* Minimum age of criminal capacity.

* Age estimation and determination.

* Every 30 days appearance before court if referred to a prison after first hearing.

* Availability of officials providing correctional supervision in One Stop Child Justice Centres.

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* Time limit of 6 months relating to conclusion of trials.

* Children under 14 years not to be detained in prison.

* Requirement of pre-sentence reports.

* No sentence of imprisonment on children who have omitted Schedule 1 offences, in order to contribute to alleviation of overcrowding.