Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on Budget Vote 18: Correctional Services, dated 25 June 2009
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, having considered the budget of the Department of Correctional Services, Vote 18: Correctional Services, reports as follows:
1.1 In its consideration of the Department of Correctional Services’ budget the Committee held budget hearings (18 June 2009) and received a briefing by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) on its budget and strategic plan (23 June 2009).
1.2 The Committee invited comment on the DCS’ 2009/10 budget from the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS), labour unions, non-governmental organisations and research institutions. The following stakeholders responded to the Committee’s invitation: the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Khulisa, the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative (CSPRI), the Public Service Association (PSA), the Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (POPCRU), as well as the JICS.
1.3 The Department officials who appeared before the Committee included: Ms X Sibeko (National Commissioner), Mr T Motseki (Chief Deputy Commissioner: Corrections), Ms S Moodley (Chief Deputy Commissioner: Development and Care), Ms J Schreiner (Chief Deputy Commissioner: Operations and Management Support), Mr M Wolela (Acting Chief Deputy Commissioner: Central Services) and Ms N Mareka (Acting Chief Financial Officer).
1.4 This report comprises an overview of concerns raised by stakeholders and the presentations made by the Department. As the DCS’ strategic plan had not yet been tabled at the time of the budget hearings stakeholder input was restricted to the 2009 Estimates of National Expenditure.
1.5 The report should be read in the context of the time constraints imposed on the Committee by the parliamentary programme, which made it difficult for Members to engage as thoroughly as they would have preferred on the details of the Department’s strategic objectives. The value, however, of covering key aspects of the Department’s presentation in this report is that it provides the Committee with a useful basis to more effectively monitor the Department’s progress and more rigorously fulfill its oversight responsibilities.
1.6 The Committee is extremely concerned that despite the rehabilitation and social reintegration objectives contained in the Department’s White Paper on Corrections, and echoed in its core mandate, Development, Care and Social Reintegration programmes remain under-funded. The Committee recommends that the budget be supported but will have extensive interactions with the Department to monitor whether there is synergy between strategic objectives and budget allocation.
1.7 The Committee intends to have regular meetings with the Department to review progress on the implementation of its Strategic Plan. These meetings will provide it with the opportunity to pursue many of the concerns raised during the budget process.
2. OVERVIEW OF STAKEHOLDER INPUT
The following concerns were raised by stakeholders and do not necessarily reflect the Committee’s opinion.
2.1 Imprisonment dehumanises and diminishes individuals, and should be an absolute last resort. Given the current economic climate, the Department cannot imprison at the rate it has up until now. Current legislative and policy frameworks provide for alternative sentencing, and while adult diversions and non-custodial sentencing are seriously considered, these options should be more rigorously marketed to magistrates.
2.2 Should there be even just a moderate increase to the prison population over the next 16 years, overcrowding will threaten the implementation of the objectives contained in the White Paper. Unless specific measures are put in place to limit imprisonment the improved criminal justice system, and the resulting increased prosecutions, may increase prison numbers, worsening not only conditions of imprisonment but also the work environment for officials. Although the DCS has limited control over overcrowding, it ought to use its position in the JCPS cluster to intensify discussions on how to reduce the awaiting trial population.
2.3 The minimum sentencing legislation has had an adverse effect on the prison population and profile. With its focus on imprisonment as a retributive and deterrent intervention, it contradicted the rehabilitation and restorative justice objectives contained in the White Paper.
2.4 The idleness and boredom of inmates needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Educational and work programmes would not only alleviate idleness, but would also provide inmates with useful skills and work ethic, which in turn should advance social reintegration objectives.
2.5 At present inmates spend up to 23 hours per day locked up in overcrowded cells. Legislation requires that the DCS create industries and use the labour at its disposal to achieve self-sufficiency, resulting in savings to taxpayers. The DCS should therefore make effective use of technical workshops, production farms, and prison labour in infrastructural improvements.
2.6 Too much of the DCS’ budget goes towards outsourced services, and consultants and much more should be done to ensure that those services that can be reasonably provided for by the DCS itself are not outsourced.
2.7 Most participants questioned whether the public private partnership prisons were the best option for addressing overcrowding. The fact that the DCS opted for this model without consultation, and despite concerns raised by the JICS, civil society and parliamentary committees was also a matter of grave concern. Public institutions should be run at the same level as private ones to ensure fairness in the standards of care afforded to inmates in different categories of correctional centres. Furthermore, many of the PPP prisons are situated in remote areas and thus inmates will be removed from their families, further frustrating rehabilitation efforts.
2.8 Despite the rehabilitation and reintegration objectives contained in the White Paper, the recidivism rate remains very high. The fact that, the DCS’ spending remains skewed in favour of security rather than equally important programmes such as care and reintegration is a cause of serious concern. The high rate of repeat-offending is indicative of the DCS’ limited success in the area of social reintegration. The continued budget allocation of approximately 3% towards the social reintegration programme, contradicts the Department’s social reintegration objectives. If a significant improvement is to be made, a radical shift in the budget allocation to this programme would have to be made. In order to meet its rehabilitation and reintegration targets, the Department ought to reconsider, and increase its targets for developmental interventions, and then make the requisite reallocations to the Care, Development and Corrections programmes.
2.9 The number of offenders with sentence plans remains very low. The absence of sentence plans impacts directly on rehabilitation efforts and therefore the development of a sentence plan ought to be a mandatory first step on the path to rehabilitation. More funds should be allocated to ensuring that all those inmates who qualify, have sentence plans. Without such sentence plans it would be difficult for them to receive the services they need in order to become crime-free and socially responsible.
2.10 Rehabilitation and social reintegration efforts are a shared responsibility. The offender reintegration sector is fragmented and there is a need for more dialogue between government and non-governmental role players. Successful reintegration efforts can be negatively affected where there is no continuity between in-prison and out–of prison programmes, services and interventions.
2.11 The delay in the implementation of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) and the 7 Day Establishment has far reaching implications for the Department’s ability to attract and retains staff (specifically scarce skills), and also impacts on the its service delivery to inmates.
3. OVERVIEW OF THE DEPARTMENT’S KEY PRIORITY STRATEGIC FOCUS AREAS
3.1 The Department’s core mandate is to contribute to maintaining and protecting a just, peaceful and safe society by enforcing decisions and sentences of the courts in the manner prescribed by legislation, by detaining all inmates in safe custody while ensuring their human dignity and by promoting the rehabilitation, social responsibility and human development of all offenders.
3.2 To improve service delivery on its core mandate the Department has identified three key priority strategic focus areas which have been aligned with Government’s medium term strategic framework (MTSF), the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster’s programme of action for revamping the criminal justice system as well as objectives contained in the White Paper on Corrections.
3.2.1 Improved centre-level service delivery on its core mandates
Rehabilitation and reintegration efforts will be enhanced through a number of strategies aimed at improving sentence planning, corrections programmes, case management, rehabilitation and social reintegration. The strategy will not only focus on offender needs, but also on services to victims through victim support interventions and restorative justice initiatives. The rehabilitation and reintegration strategy will be coupled with an improved remand detention management system, and enhanced internal and public safety and security.
3.2.2 Corrections as a societal responsibility
The Department hopes to entrench corrections as a societal responsibility through improved stakeholder involvement in correctional services functions, building and strengthening partnerships with criminal justice and social sector departments, relevant national and international role-players in the field of corrections as well as through extending outreach to inmates, families and victims so as to facilitate social reintegration.
3.2.3 Building internal capacity for improved centre-level service delivery
The Department hopes that through strategies aimed at combating corruption, improving vetting, strengthening monitoring, evaluation and reporting, its governance and compliance will be improved. A number of strategies for extending internal capacity, including the OSD and the implementation of the 7-day establishment will be rolled. To enhance the knowledge and learning within the Department, officials will be seconded to other departments and organisations, mentoring and coaching within the Department will be encouraged and best practices will be shared.
4. OVERVIEW OF THE 2009/10 BUDGET
4.1. The Department’s expenditure is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 13.6 % over the MTEF period. As a result of additional allocations for the implementation of the seven day establishment, inflation related adjustments in compensation of employees and in payments for capital assets, and an adjustment of R1.2 billion to the 2011/12 baseline as a capital contribution to the public private partnership facilities, growth will peak at R18.1 billion in 2011/12. It is estimated that the department will realise savings of R720 million per year on overtime when the seven-day establishment is implemented.
4.2 The Department received R13.23 billion for the 2009/10 financial year. This amounts to 3.1 % of the total national budget, and 13 % of the total allocation for the JCPS cluster, which received 14.2% increase in its allocation. The Department’s budget increased by R900 million (7.3 % in nominal terms) in comparison with the 2008/09 financial year. In real terms, however the budget shows an increase of only R222 million, or 1.8 %.
4.3 Of its 7 programmes, Security and Administration receive the largest allocations – 33,4 % and 26,3% respectively, with Facilities showing an 6,2% increase. While the allocation to Care has increased by 6.59%, the Corrections, Development and Social Reintegration programmes show decreases of 0,66%, 4,76% and 2% respectively.
4.4 OVERVIEW OF ALLOCATION ACROSS PROGRAMMES
4.4.1 The Administration programme provides the administrative, management, financial, information communication and technology, research, policy co-ordination and good governance support functions necessary for service delivery, good governance and accountability to oversight institutions. Expenditure in this programme relates to bulk stores (include food, medication and personal items for inmates), IT, human resource development, procurement of vehicles, and accommodation. The programme has received the second largest allocation, which has increased by 4.10 % in real terms. The measurable objectives for this programme include ensuring effective planning, resourcing, delivery, project management, monitoring, evaluation and reporting so as to improve service delivery.
4.4.2 The Security programme aims to provide safe and healthy conditions that are consistent with human dignity for all inmates, thereby supporting security for both personnel and the public. This programme has been allocated R4.4 billion, reflecting a 5.95% increase from previous year’s allocation. The activities of this programme are labour intensive and employee compensation accounts for 96,2% of the programme’s budget. The success of the programme depends on the Department’s ability to provide an environment that is safe, and where criminal activities and escapes are prevented.
4.4.3 The Corrections programme provides needs-based correctional sentence plans and interventions based on an assessment of an inmate’s security and criminal profile. It targets all elements associated with offending behaviour, and focuses on the offence for which a person is sentenced to correctional supervision, remanded in a correctional centre, or paroled. The programme received R1,1 billion reflecting a 4.7 % increase from the previous year’s allocation. 94.5 % of the budget allocation for this programme is channelled towards compensation of employees.
4.4.4 The Care programme provides for needs-based programmes and services aimed at maintaining the personal wellbeing of incarcerated offenders by facilitating physical fitness, social functioning, health care, and spiritual, moral and psychological wellbeing. The allocation to this programme has received the highest increase from the previous year’s allocation and stands at R1.6 billion which translate to 12 % of the total budget of the Department. This budget will be spent on ensuring the wellbeing of incarcerated people and meeting the needs of special categories of offenders including children, female offenders, offenders with disabilities, offenders with mental illness and elderly offenders. The growth of the budget in the medium term is at a projected average annual rate of 11.5 %, which will include the provision of additional remuneration for health care workers.
4.4.5 The Development programme focus on personal development of offenders through the provision of programmes and services aimed at developing skills and social development competencies, including technical training, recreation, sports, education and the operation of prison farms and production workshops. The R448 million allocation to this programme reflects a decrease of 4.76 % in real terms, accounting for only 3.4 % of the total budget. Over the MTEF period funds will go towards improving offender educational and skills levels.
4.4.6 The Social Reintegration programme provides services focused on offenders’ preparation for release, their effective supervision after being paroled, and on facilitating their social reintegration. This programme receives 3.2% of the Department’s total budget. 91 % of that allocation will go to compensation of employees.. Over the MTEF period spending will be focussed on programmes aimed at facilitating destigmatisation and effective reintegration of offenders. Measurable objectives include decreasing the number of probation violations, and increasing the number of probationers.
4.4.7 The Facilities programme provides physical infrastructure that supports safe and secure custody, humane conditions, and corrective services, care, development and general administration. This programme has been allocated R1.8 billion reflecting a 6.24% increase from previous year’s allocation, accounting for 13.3 % of the total budget of the Department. The bulk of this allocation goes to goods and services, particularly capital assets. The measurable objectives for this programme include upgrading existing facilities to provide 1 711 additional bed spaces, and completing 5 new correctional centres thus providing 15 000 additional bed spaces.
5. COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1.1 The DCS’ attempts at realising the rehabilitation and reintegration objectives are undermined by its many administrative challenges. Regular administrative hearings will be held to ensure that these challenges are reported on as they occurred.
5.1.2 The DCS’ high expenditure on consultants and outsourced services remains a cause for serious concern especially in cases where core functions such as security are being outsourced. The controversial nutrition contract sees millions being spent on a service that, with the necessary management, the DCS could easily perform itself. The Committee looks forward to the outcome of the soon to be embarked upon feasibility study on the most cost-effective way of providing nutritional services.
5.2.1 Overcrowding places enormous strain on, amongst others, prison infrastructure. While some prisons are grossly overcrowded, others are under- or inappropriately utilised. The Committee recognises that the current infrastructure is not conducive to realising the DCS’ rehabilitation and will follow-up on interventions aimed at creating appropriate accommodation for juvenile offenders, mothers with babies and the awaiting trial population in particular.
5.2.2 The delays in the completion of the controversial public private partnership prisons and other new generation prisons are unacceptable as they come at great cost. Currently the DCS is in the process of procuring five additional prisons through the PPP model. The Correctional Services legislation states that the contracts for such prisons may not exceed 25 years and the Committee is pleased that National Treasury is exploring ways of reducing the term of the contracts and looks forward to the DCS’ report on the outcome of that process. The DCS will be called to brief the Committee on the reasons for the continuous delays and to indicate when each of the new facilities will become operational.
5.3.1 Overcrowding places enormous strain on infrastructure and service delivery to offenders, and makes humane conditions of incarceration nearly impossible. Given that unsentenced offenders, many of whom are in prison simply because they cannot afford bail set at as little as R300, are the main contributors to overcrowding, increased cooperation within the JCPS cluster is vital. Awareness must be raised among cluster members of the far-reaching implications, budgetary and otherwise, associated with overcrowding.
5.4 Care, Development and Corrections
5.4.1 The Committee is deeply concerned about the small allocations to the care and development programmes, which show decreases in real terms. It acknowledges that given the high level of overcrowding such programmes, even if adequately funded, would be an enormous challenge to run. The minimal increase to the number of offenders participating in literacy programmes over the MTEF period is unacceptable for example, as it contradicts the DCS’ key rehabilitation and reintegration objectives. While the Committee acknowledges that the DCS’ shortage of skilled professionals such as teachers, and infrastructural challenges do not always make delivery on such services possible, it must emphasise that there should be greater synergy between the Department’s strategic objectives, and how it funds its programmes.
5.4.2 While the Estimates of National Expenditure ascribe the growth in the budget to the corrections programme as mainly due to additional allocations for implementing the activities of the White Paper over the medium term, it is clear that at the current rate of implementation, full implementation of activities such as risk assessment and profiling of offenders, and the running of the case management committees that advise the correctional supervision and parole boards, will take many years. The Committee is hopeful that the recently introduced portfolio management strategy will assist in monitoring and improving service delivery across all programmes, but in particular across those that have the potential of limiting recidivism.
5.4.3 Among the health related matters raised, concern about the medical parole process stood out. It is clear that a review of this process is necessary to make it more effective, less open to manipulation, and possibly inclusive of seriously ill inmates. Health care services to sick inmates are also often inadequate and more should be done to ensure that basic health care needs are met. The Committee will engage the relevant stakeholders on both the medical parole, and general health care service delivery.
5.5 Social Reintegration
5.5.1 As is the case with the care and development programmes, the social reintegration programme is grossly under-funded. Many ex-offenders are rejected by their communities upon their release, and struggle to find employment. Corrections is a societal responsibility and all sectors must play their role in ensuring that ex-offenders are successfully reintegrated. Much has to be done to combat the stigma attached to having been incarcerated and to promote restorative justice, and allocations should be aligned to this core objective. The Committee will meet with the Department, parole board chairpersons as well as the National Council on Correctional Services (NCCS) to get an understanding of how the parole system works, what its weaknesses are and how best to improve it. The importance of DCS-driven community awareness campaigns that will combat stigmatisation and aid reintegration efforts must also be emphasised.
5.5.2 The Committee, recognising the role that the NGO-sector could play as far as reintegration programmes are concerned, would like to see more support given to the sector, so that their programmes can reach more inmates.
5.6 Prison labour
5.6.1 The Committee acknowledges the potential security risk when inmates are engaged in work activities, but feels strongly that given the significant increase to the security programme, and with adequate management, prison labour can assist in making the DCS more self-sufficient, cutting on some of the costs, particularly in those areas that are currently being outsourced. Prison farms, factories and workshops should be utilised fully. The skills and work ethic developed through work programmes will also aid the rehabilitation process.
5.7.1 Both stakeholders and the Department agreed that the minimum sentencing legislation has had an adverse effect on the prison population and profile, and that it did not advance restorative justice initiatives. The Committee will engage stakeholders within the JCPS cluster and non-governmental organisations for further discussions around the possibility of amending the legislation so as to align it with the White Paper.
5.7.2 In line with the Department’s rehabilitation and restorative justice objectives, alternative sentencing and diversion should be more rigorously marketed to magistrates. That having been said, the Committee acknowledges that unless magistrates are confident in the DCS’ ability to adequately manage those on alternative sentences, such sentencing will remain rare.
The Committee thanks all those who appeared before it for their input and cooperation, and looks forward to fruitful interactions with all stakeholders as it does its oversight of the Department.
Report to be considered.