Roundtable Discussion on the White Paper on Corrections in South Africa

In March 2005 the Department of Correctional Services released the White Paper on Corrections in South Africa which articulated a new 20-year vision for the correctional system. This vision articulates an antithesis of what was inherited from the previous regime. But it does raise serious questions about its attainability. Nearly five years into the implementation of the White Paper, results in respect of rehabilitation services to prisoners remain modest. The lack of budgetary alignment to the vision of the White Paper has also been remarked upon by Parliament. In many regards, conditions of detention fail to meet the minimum standards set out in the Constitution and the Correctional Services Act. This roundtable discussion focussed on a critical examination of the White Paper as a policy document and also on progress towards realising the objectives of the White Paper. Some may argue that the White Paper has made a valuable contribution by providing the Department with a new purpose and paradigm, whilst others state that meeting the minimum standards of humane detention is a pre-requisite for large scale rehabilitation services. Did the ambitious vision of the White Paper set the Department up for failure?
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