The South African Department of Correctional Services says it is time to extend electronic monitoring to other categories of offenders.
The pilot phase began in the middle of February and, last week, the 106th participant was tagged in Cape Town. Only certain categories of inmates are targeted for the project.
“It is time to extend electronic monitoring to other categories of offenders, including offenders still serving custodial sentences in our centres. It is our plan that this rollout should be finalised in this financial year,” said correctional services minister Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula, during her budget speech last week.
She added that it is the intention of the department to draw up proposals to present to the Justice and Crime Prevention Cluster on the use of electronic monitoring as part of alternative sentencing for minor offences.
“This will ensure that only those who have committed serious offences serve a custodial sentence. We have always believed that overcrowding impacts on the ability of the department to provide effective rehabilitation.”
The pilot will last for 12 months, at a cost of R6.8 million. Each inmate will receive a bracelet that is connected to a satellite, allowing correctional officers to monitor where these inmates are at all times. If the bracelets are tampered with, they set off an alarm.
Democratic Alliance correctional services shadow minister James Selfe previously said people are incarcerated at a cost of R200 a day, and now they can be let out into the community at very little cost.
The “Estimates of National Expenditure 2010”, released by the National Treasury, shows that in 2008/9, correctional facilities were overcrowded by 42%. Selfe added that “23 centres in SA experience an occupancy rate of over 200%. The savings would be enormous. People are incarcerated at a cost of R200 a day, and now they can be let out into the community at very little cost”.
The minister said the department is in a process to evaluate its current technology security systems, which include access control systems, surveillance systems, alarm systems, and fencing systems, to ensure alignment with the department’s security challenges and technology strategy.
“This process will direct the management, maintenance and upgrading of existing systems, as well as implementation of new systems.”
A contract has been awarded for the installation of security fences with CCTV cameras and detection systems at 27 correctional facilities.
“We are also in the process for the procurement of a service provider for the upgrading, maintenance and management of the existing access control system for DCS. [The] access control and fencing virtual private network that was run and controlled by external service providers has been taken over by the department,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
The department will also install body scanners in 20 priority facilities.