Argus Thursday December 2011
Title: Programme to stop high rates of reoffending
Farm to train parolees for a year.
Reporter: ESTHER LEWIS Staff Reporter
THE HIGH rate of parolees re-offending and going from petty to serious crime have prompted a Cape Town man to start a rehabilitation project for them.
Harry Bradnick, chairman of the Vision of Hope Foundation, said it was expected the first phase of the project would be launched early next year.
The non-profit organisation secured a disused farm of several hundred hectares in Paarl, near Brandvlei prison. The idea, said Bradnick, was to take in 10 parolees for each hectare.
They would be trained in cultivating and harvesting vegetables by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) for three weeks. The research council has also agreed to lend the project the necessary equipment for the first three years.
The parolees are to work on the farm for one year. During this time, all produce is to be sold direct to the market. A portion of the proceeds isto go towards parolees' salaries and the rest is to be pumped back into the project. The parolees are to do adult education programmes. Bradnick said all of this would help in making the group more marketable and able to find employment after their year was up.
Only first-time offenders for petty crime will be considered. The idea stemmed from personal experience, Bradnick said. A friend was arrested and imprisoned for drunk driving and lost his job after the cpnvic-tion. When he was released, he couldn't find employment. Soon after, he was rearrested and convicted of robbery. Bradnick said this was a common trend, and he hoped the project would make a dent in the reoffending rate by giving parolees a better chance at finding employment and re-integration into society. The ARC could not be reached for comment, but the Cape Argus has a letter confirming its support for the project. Correctional Services spokesman Louis Reinke said the organisatioithas been in discussion with the department. A committee will ensure the programme will enhance the skills of offenders and increase their responsibility.
While there isn't an accurate figure for the rate of reoffending, it is often said to be between 80 and 90 percent. The recidivism conference held in November last year unveiled research that put the figure closer to 30 percent. The Department of Correctional Services studied the incidence of reoffending among a selected group released between January 1 and December 31,2006. This was done to determine how many returned to prisons over 36 months. There were 77,647 prisoners released. A sample group of 20 272 were tracked and, among them, 4 866 reoffended.
ACCORDING to the Depart¬ment of Correctional Services website, there are 44 325 people on parole nationally.
Detainees awaiting trial.