Electronic tags to ease prison overcrowding

12 November 2013

South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services has launched an electronic monitoring system which will see parolees, people out on bail and those awaiting trial wearing a bracelet fitted with a GPS device that tracks them 24/7.

Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said at the launch of the device in Pretoria on Monday that it would “enhance public safety through electronic monitoring”.

Ndebele said this would result in substantial savings for taxpayers by reducing the cost of keeping offenders in prison and easing overcrowding in the country’s jails.

“It is cost-effective, as presently it costs the taxpayer over R9 876.35 per month to incarcerate an inmate. For electronic monitoring, the monthly cost per offender is R3 379. This is a saving of almost R6 500 per offender every month,” he said.

Once the bracelet is fitted and activated, it cannot be removed without breaking the transmitter, strap or connecting clips.

Interference with the equipment, including tampering or failing to charge the receiver, is relayed to the control room.

“No address means no bail and no parole,” said Ndebele, adding that about 15% to 20% of awaiting-trial detainees were in custody because they could not afford bail.

As of 7 November, the Department of Correctional Services had a total of 154 897 inmates in their custody. Sentenced offenders numbered 112 121 while remand detainees numbered 42 776.

“The roll-out of the device has been budgeted in the next financial year,” said Ndebele.

Source: SAnews.gov.za