Mmegi Online :: MDJS to introduce alternatives to imprisonment
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Last Updated
Monday 24 September 2018, 15:01 pm.
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MDJS to introduce alternatives to imprisonment

The Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security will soon introduce sentencing policies, which will include alternatives to imprisonment.
By Sharon Mathala Fri 28 Nov 2014, 17:46 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: MDJS to introduce alternatives to imprisonment








This means that for the deserving candidates, instead of a prison term the perpetrators will be “punished” through other means equalling the incarceration period.

The newly appointed Minister, Shaw Kgathi said this during his first official meeting with the Botswana Prison Service (BPS) senior officers yesterday.

Kgathi highlighted that his ministry is working on a number of initiatives, which will be revealed early next year, which include the development of a rehabilitation policy and a sentencing policy.

“We will soon, as of early next year introduce to cabinet for approval a rehabilitation policy as well as a sentencing policy including alternatives to imprisonment.

“These policies are developed with the assistance of a consultant from the Commonwealth Secretariat. Hopefully, the policies will be finalised early next year and be brought to cabinet for adoption,” he said.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) numerous international instruments recommend a rationalisation in sentencing policy, including the wider use of alternatives to prison, aiming to reduce the number of people being isolated from society for long periods.

“The use of non-custodial sanctions and measures also reflects a fundamental change in the approach to crime, offenders and their place in society, changing the focus of penitentiary measures from punishment and isolation, to restorative justice and reintegration,”

“When accompanied by adequate support for offenders, it assists some of the most vulnerable members of society to lead a life without having to relapse back into criminal behaviour patterns.

“Thus, the implementation of penal sanctions within the community, rather than through a process of isolation from it, offers in the long term better protection for society.”

Although this maybe a step in the right direction for the Botswana Government Mmegi has

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learnt that the UNODC also cautions that one of the challenges facing authorities that are seeking to develop the use of alternatives to imprisonment as a way of reducing the prison population is ensuring that, conceptually, alternatives should not be drawn too narrowly.

“Alternatives to imprisonment, though comparatively inexpensive and efficient, may themselves treat offenders in inhuman and degrading ways and would therefore be fundamentally unacceptable. Others may not inherently infringe human dignity but may still be unacceptable when implemented inappropriately, A second danger is that initiatives adopted as alternatives to imprisonment may result not in fewer people being held in prison but in additional measures against suspects and offenders who would not otherwise have been subject to the control of the criminal justice system at all.”

Meanwhile Kgathi also cautioned the prison officials from conspiring with prisoners and allowing them to smuggle undesirable items into the prison cells as this compromises not only the inmate’s security but also the prison officials themselves.

“It is important that all prisoners serve their sentences as ordered by the courts and as such there should be no opportunities for escapes either through negligence of duty or inducement on the part of prison officials,” he added.

For the past examinations, a total of 104 prison inmates sat for the past Primary school leaving examination (PSLE), Junior Certificate (JC) as well as the Botswana General Secondary Certificate Examination (BGSCE).

Kgathi commended this effort from the BPS as it prepares the inmates for a better life after completing their sentences.

“Extending educational opportunities to prisoners will only enhance their ability to reintegrate into society upon release. It also lessens the likelihood of having repeat offenders,” he said.

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