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Date: 10 May 2012
Title: First offenders benefit from sentence remission
Pretoria - The first batch of inmates to benefit from the remission of sentence announced by President Jacob Zuma on Freedom Day were today released from the female section of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre.
More than 100 female inmates were released on Thursday and, according to the department, the next batch is expected to be released from prisons around the country on Monday. This time it will include both men and women.
On Freedom Day, Zuma announced special remission of sentence to specific categories of sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees. It is projected that approximately 14 651 sentenced inmates will be released conditionally or unconditionally in terms of this process, as well as an approximate 20 855 probationers and parolees.
This is in a bid to reduce the level of overcrowding in Correctional Centres from 34% to approximately 20%.
Speaking to BuaNews at an event to mark the release of the inmates, Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula explained that not all inmates would benefit from sentence remission.
"Those that are going to benefit from sentence remission are those that have committed petty crimes," she said. She emphasised that they were those prisoners who did not pose a risk to the security of society.
Sentenced inmates who do not qualify for the twelve months remission of sentence include those who have commited aggressive crimes, firearm related crimes, sexual crimes and drug related crimes.
Mapisa-Nqakula expressed concern at the high number of young women who were behind bars, saying they did not deserve to be there. In total, Gauteng had about 255 female inmates.
"They do not deserve to be here. It pains me to see them here. They deserve better and we hope society will accept them," she said.
Some of the women, who are mostly aged from their mid-20s, had been at the prison for as long as five years for minor charges like stealing televisions out of economic desperation.
They pose no risk to the security of society and can be rehabilitated.
Mapisa-Nqakula said there were babies who had been born in the facility and that the facility was no place for a child to be raised. This was another consideration for their remission. It is hoped that once rehabilitated, the women could contribute to society.
The minister warned those that had been released to not allow anyone, including their partners, to push them into doing "wrong things" including committing a crime.
The remissions are happening for the first time under the current administration. Remissions were previously granted on 30 May 2005 in the first year of former President Thabo Mbeki's second term of office. - BuaNews