March 28, 2003

Prison conditions 'not constitutional'

Correctional Services Minister Ben Skosana has requested a report from his department on a recent study by the SA Law Society which found prison conditions to be so bad there were grounds for a legal challenge in the Constitutional Court.

In its report handed to Skosana last week, the society said prison conditions were worse than they were during an evaluation in 2001, with the exception of Nelspruit and East London prisons. It found few of its previous recommendations to the minister had been implemented. "Government needs to be taken to task through its ministers via the Constitutional Court because what prisoners particularly unsentenced and awaiting trial prisoners are experiencing comes well within the constitutional proscription of not to be treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way'," the report said. It warned of the risk of producing a "super breed of criminal" in jail.

A spokesman said Skosana would discuss the report with Correctional Services Commissioner Linda Mit. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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