Department Of Correctional Services Policies

Department Of Correctional Services Policies

Department Of Correctional Services Policies, acts and procedures


The mandate of the Department of Correctional Services is derived from the Correctional Services Act, 1998 (Act 111 of 1998)[PDF], as amended; the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) [PDF]; the 2005 White Paper on Corrections; and the 2014 White Paper on Remand Detention Management in South Africa.
The legislation requires the department to contribute to maintaining and promoting a just, peaceful and safe society by correcting offending behaviour in a safe, secure and humane environment, thus facilitating optimal rehabilitation and reduced repeat offending.
The strategic goals of the Department of Correctional Services are to ensure that:

  • the efficiency of the justice system is improved through the effective management of remand processes
  • society is protected through incarcerated offenders being secured and rehabilitated
  • society is protected by offenders being reintegrated into the community as law-abiding citizens.

During 2015/16, the DCS successfully put 75 595 (74,30%) sentenced offenders through various correctional programmes. Significant achievements were recorded on parolees and probationers without violations. Of the 51 937 parolees, 98,78% (51 307/51 937) complied with their conditions, (an overachievement of 3,78%), and 98,65% (16 416/16 640) of probationers (an overachievement of 4.65%) remained violation-free.
Over the medium term, using the R36.9 billion allocated to the Incarceration Programme between 2015/16 and 2024, the department is expected to manage security operations for sentenced offenders and remand detainees; construct and upgrade facilities; profile inmates and compile needs based correctional sentence plans; and perform inmate administration functions, such as admissions and releases.
The department aims to reduce the number of escapes to 36 in 2024, and the number of inmates injured as a result of reported assaults to 5 546.
To improve adherence to basic security procedures, the department will provide security awareness sessions and ensure that correctional centre management is involved. Staff will also be provided with appropriate security equipment to enhance their ability to perform their security duties.

Legislation and policies

In addition to its legislative mandate, the DCS is compelled by the Constitution to comply with the following rights in terms of the treatment of offenders:

  • equality
  • human dignity
  • freedom and security of the person
  • right to healthcare services
  • children’s rights
  • right to education
  • freedom of religion
  • rights to humane treatment and to communicate and be visited by family and next of kin.

Section 63A, Chapter 28 and Section 299A of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) [PDF] are of particular importance to the department as it provides for a procedure in terms of which the court may, on application by a head of a correctional centre and if not opposed by the Director of Public Prosecutions concerned, order the release of certain accused on warning in lieu of bail or order the amendment of the bail conditions imposed by that court on the accused.
Section 63A also forms the basis of a protocol between JCPS Cluster departments to encourage the use of this provision to assist accused who do not pose a danger to society to be released from detention in circumstances where the bail set by the court cannot be afforded by the accused or his or her family.
Chapter 28 of the CPA, 1977 deals with sentencing and the entire chapter is applicable to the department’s mandate. Offenders must be detained in accordance with the sentences handed down under this chapter.
The granting of parole and the conversion of sentences to correctional supervision is also done in accordance with this chapter, read together with the Correctional Services Act, 1998.
Section 299A of the CPA, 1977 regulates victim involvement in the decisions of parole boards.
The White Paper on Corrections in South Africa ushered in a start to the second decade of freedom where prisons become correctional centres of rehabilitation and offenders are given new hope and encouragement to adopt a lifestyle that will result in a second chance towards becoming the ideal South African citizen.
The Second Chance Act repudiates the notion that recidivism reduction is best achieved through deterrent threats alone, and calls for the delivery of services to former prisoners not in a minimal or grudging way but in a systematic, progressive fashion.
It is a re-entry movement that could be classified as therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice and to some extent victims’ rights.
The Act provides programmes and services that will aid rehabilitation efforts and encourage positive participation in society upon release.
It eliminates “invisible punishment” by excluding access to public benefi ts such as social grants, general assistance, housing and jobs. The Act counters the effects of policies which have made it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to re-enter the normative non-criminal community and could explain why there are so many recidivists.
President Jacob Zuma has signed into law the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, 2015 (Act 18 of 2015). The Act amends the CPA of 1977. The amendments provide for changes to the law pertaining to infrastructure-related offences by making stricter provisions for the granting of bail, the sentencing of offenders and creating a new offence to criminalise damage to, tampering with or destruction of essential infrastructure which may interfere with the provision of basic services to the public.
The Act also aims to create a new offence relating to the essential infrastructure as well as amend the POCA of 1998.


The adjusted allocation for the DCS for the 2015/16 financial year was R20.589 billion versus actual expenditure of R20.589 billion, which is 100% of the budget spent.

Role players

National Council for Correctional Services

The National Council for Correctional Services is a statutory body to guide the Minister of Correctional Services in developing policy relating to the correctional system and the sentence-management process.

Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services

The Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services was established in 1998 with the statutory objective to facilitate the inspection of correctional centres so that the inspecting judge may report on the treatment of inmates and on conditions in correctional centres. The Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services is an independent office.

Medical Parole Advisory Board

The Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011 provides for a new medical parole policy and correctional supervision. A Medical Parole Advisory Board was appointed in February 2012 to look into all seriously and terminally ill inmates who have submitted reports requesting to be released on medical grounds.

Correctional Supervision and Parole Board

Correctional Supervision and Parole boards are responsible for dealing with parole matters and matters of correctional supervision. The Correctional Supervision and Parole boards have decision-making competency except:

  • decisions regarding the granting of parole to people who are declared dangerous criminals in terms of Section 286A of
  • the converting of sentences of imprisonment imposed in terms of Section 276 (A) (3) of the CPA of 1998 into correctional supervision
  • decisions with regard to those sentenced to life imprisonment.

In such cases, recommendations are submitted to the courts that in turn will make decision in respect of conditional placement.
There are 52 Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards countrywide. These boards are chaired by community members who are regarded as suitable and capable of carrying out the responsibilities. The DCS provides the members with intensive training in respect of the processes, legislative implications and relative policies.
In addition, two members of the community are appointed as members of the board. Trained staff members of the DCS fill the positions of vice-chairperson and secretary. The board can also co-opt a representative of the SAPS and a representative of the DoJ&CD. However, if the representatives of SAPS and of DoJ&CD are not co-opted to participate in a board hearing, the chairperson of the board may request such departments to provide written inputs in respect of specific serious crimes.

Programmes and projects

Service Delivery Improvement Plan (SDIP)

Four key services form the basis of the SDIP. These are integrated into the department’s strategic and operational plans. Regions report quarterly on:

  • improving access of service providers and other stakeholders to correctional centres
  • improving telephone and switchboard etiquette at all service points
  • managing the payment of bail and fines at correctional centres
  • improving the scheduling of visits to offenders to support family ties between offenders and their families.

Each year the department honours officials who excel in their tasks and go beyond the call of duty to ensure that quality service is delivered through the annual National Corrections Excellence Awards.
The Department of Correctional Services was also part of the development of the Training Manual on Innovation at the National School of Government (previously Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy), in collaboration with the Centre for Public Service Innovation.

The Gallows Memorial

The Gallows Memorialisation Project at the Pretoria Central Prison was initiated to honour those political prisoners who were hanged and serve as a reminder to future generations not to take their freedom for granted.
It comprises a memorial and a museum, which includes the death row block housing the gallows where an estimated 130 political prisoners were hanged between 1961 and 1989. As part of the museum, the chapel at the gallows was renamed the Steve Biko chapel, in memory of all those who died in detention. There is also a garden of remembrance. A roll of honour with the names of all the political prisoners can be seen at the entrance to the gallows.

Operation Vala

Operation Vala (meaning “close”) is a 50-day special festive-season security plan at South Africa’s 243 correctional centres, which includes:

  • tightening security
  • limiting offenders’ externally focused activities to essential services
  • curtailing goods and products brought to facilities by families and friends
  • conducting impromptu searches to eliminate illegal substances
  • maintaining appropriate staffing levels as informed by local threat assessments by heads of correctional centres and area commissioners.

Without security, no rehabilitation can take place. The department adopted a minimum security standards policy with six key pillars, namely personnel, technology, information, operational, physical and management supervision of security.
As part of the Back to Basics campaign, tightening security measures at correctional centres will entail, amongst others:

  • Drastic enhancing of security at all access control points;
  • Increase in impromptu and periodic, internal and external patrols, and periodic spot checks, and cell counts, at irregular intervals/frequencies;
  • Adequate staff deployment to ensure sufficient managers and officials are on duty;
  • Increased and intensified visitor searches at exit and entry points;
  • Strict adherence to visitation times;
  • Confinement and the minimization of movements of high-risk inmates;
  • Deployment and increased visibility of emergency support teams, especially at high-risk centres where maximum and remand detainees are incarcerated;
  • Limitation of unnecessary movement of inmates between sections and increased vigilance during offender escorts;
  • Introduction of special security measures at strategic sections, including hospital sections and/or sections where religious, and social workers, are at risk in correctional centres;
  • Effective management and immediate attention to inmate complaints;
  • Active involvement of professional staff (social workers, medical staff, religious workers) to support inmates and staff; and
  • Proactive handling and management of information received from inmates and/or other sources regarding planned escapes or other security threats.

Operation Funda

Operation Funda (meaning “learn”) is one of the Department of Correctional Service’s flagship projects, launched by the Minister in January 2011 to enhance offenders’ access to education and training to equip them for effective and sustainable social re-integration.
Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 constitute 69% of the offender population. There are 13 dedicated youth facilities nationally.
The purpose of the correctional system is not punishment, but protection of the public, promotion of social responsibility and enhancing human development to prevent repeat offending or the return to crime. The department insists that people who leave correctional centres must have appropriate attitudes, and competencies for them to successfully integrate back into society as law-abiding and productive citizens.
From April 2013, it was compulsory for every inmate to complete Adult Basic Education and Training levels 1 to 4.

Mother and baby units

The mother and baby units are separate cells built for mothers incarcerated with babies in correctional centres. This is to allow children as close to normal an existence as possible even if this is under the conditions of incarceration of the mother, while at the same time providing rehabilitation programmes in a centre that enhances their capacity to care for their children.
These facilities were also launched in response to the Child Justice Act, 2008 [PDF]. The Act created an imperative for the department to treat children incarcerated with their mothers in a humane manner.
The facilities cater for children up to two years, after which they are released to a legal guardian chosen or recommended by the mother.

Halfway House Pilot Project

The halfway houses offer an opportunity to offenders who meet all the requirements to be placed on parole but do not have fixed addresses that can be monitored to which they can return to in communities.
Halfway houses reduce such offenders’ potential to re-offend because they are given a second chance to experience a home-like environment. A halfway house is considered as the final part of an offender’s rehabilitation process.

Victim-offender dialogue (VOD)

VODs are based on a theory of justice that considers crime, and wrongdoing, to be an  offence against an individual or community, rather than the State. Restorative justice, that fosters dialogue between victim and offender, shows the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability.
Ultimately, every correctional centre will have a VOD Representative Forum.
The VODs provide an opportunity for offenders to meet with victims and account for their crimes, thereby rebuilding the nation. Through the VODs, parole boards and other structures, the department is working towards democratisation and creating more opportunities for people to join the fight against crime.

Educational programmes

In August 2015, 3 034 learners attended the Correctional Services Learnership Programme.
A total 75 595 offenders completed correctional programmes in the 2015/16 financial year and 24 590 offenders completed a prerelease programme.
Some 11 548 offenders attended educational programmes as per the daily programme attendance register. The number included both offenders who attended Adult Education and Training and Further Education and Training programmes. The Department achieved 73% (81/111) pass rate for 2015.

Offender labour

Offenders across the country are giving back to communities and demonstrating remorse for the crimes they committed against them.
Empowering offenders with skills to function effectively in society upon their release is essential to rehabilitation.
The department will continue donating products to disadvantaged communities from time to time to help alleviate poverty.
In line with the National Framework on Offender Labour, the department is increasing the number of offenders who participate in offender labour and skills development, programmes.

Electronic monitoring systems

The Electronic Monitoring System (EMS), which was launched in July 2014, has enabled the DCS to effectively track an offender or awaiting trial person on a 24-7-365 basis.
The number of offenders placed under the EMS to enhance tracking of offenders during the 2015/16 financial year was recorded at 870, an increase over the 604 in 2014/15.
During the same period, body-scanning equipment was being installed at Kgoši Mampuru II, Johannesburg, Pollsmoor, St. Albans, Durban Westville, Groenpunt and Barberton correctional facitlities.
Cellphone detection systems were being rolled out in new-generation correctional facilities including Tswelopele (Kimberley) and Brandvlei (Western Cape).
Other installations were targeting the Johannesburg Management Area and Kgoši Mampuru II Management Area in Gauteng, Pollsmoor and Goodwood in Western Cape as well as Durban-Westville and Umzinto in KwaZulu-Natal. The long-term aim is to install cellphone detection in all correctional facilities.

Automated Fingerprint and Identity System (Afis)

The department initiated the roll-out of Afis in correctional centres around the country. The department’s Automated Personal Identity System, which was developed through the Inmate Tracking Project, was implemented at 32 correctional centres and 99 community corrections offices.
This interfaces with the Department of Home Affairs’ database to verify the identity of offenders.

Operational structure of correctional facilities

Inmates statistics

By March , the DCS had a total inmate population of 161 984, with approved bed space of 119 134. Out of 71 inmates who escaped, the department managed to rearrest 57 escapees.
The Back-2-Basics security campaign was launched to reestablish all the basic security principles in the department. There are 243 correctional centres in the country.

Parole boards

The interim case management committee structures were established in all centres in accordance with Section 42 of the Correctional Services Act of 1998.
The parole system is based on international best practices.
It allows for independent decision-making by correctional supervision and parole boards and it allows for the participation of victims as well as other role players such as representatives from the SAPS and DoJ&CD.

Review of the Criminal Justice System

The three main streams of core business of the department are vested in the budget programmes:

  • remand detention
  • incarceration and corrections
  • social reintegration.

Remand detention

The White Paper on Remand Detention Management in South Africa of 2014 is relevant to the mandate on remand detention and is consistent with the Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011 and other relevant national and international legislation and protocols.
The DCS has commenced with the operationalisation of the White Paper through the development of the overarching departmental policy and procedure manuals.
As part of efforts to operationalize the White Paper, the DCS introduced a pilot risk classification tool for remand detentions during 2014/15 as a pilot, and subsequently implemented Continuous Risk Assessment (CRA) during 2015/16. The CRA was successfully rolled out to 22 remand facilities within all six DCS regions across South Africa.
Remand Detention Facilities must, therefore, allow for the minimal limitation of an individual’s rights, while ensuring secure, and safe, custody.
The White Paper is also a response to the challenges posed by a dramatic increase in remand detainees over the past years.
The DCS established a Remand Detention Branch, which became operational in April 2012. Together with the Criminal Justice Review Committee, DCS has embarked on a process of tracking those remand detainees who have been detained the longest in correctional facilities. The process assisted in determining the factors, which delay the finalisation of such cases, to ensure that these issues are addressed accordingly.

Social reintegration

The community forms an integral part of the rehabilitation of offenders on parole to reintegrate them as law-abiding citizens. Parole is used internationally to place offenders under supervision within the community.
The parole policy provides for credible members of communities to chair the Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards which have been allocated decision-making authority.
The department wants to return rehabilitated offenders to society as healthy, and responsible, community members.
Parolees who obtained skills in correctional centres, are being provided with work tools, and start-up kits, to start their own businesses.
These include welding machines, sewing machines, car-wash machines and vacuum cleaners to create entrepreneurs and employment for parolees.

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