Tag Archives: Recidivism

Social Work & Security In The Prison Context


Social Work & Security In The Prison Context

The role of the security officer and the social worker need to be revisited and redefined. Social Welfare in South Africa should be the custodian of the incarceration system. Security is there to create an environment which is conducive to the role of the social worker. I am currently working on a module which is based entirely on the norms of a normal functioning society, but implemented into the prison system.

The system will enable government to alleviate the load the tax payer must carry. It will offer social, economic and political solutions to a problem never solved. Crime has evolved into a way of life for many. Children are being born into it and I believe that the social worker is the correct department to govern over this system. Here there will be incredible opposition to my views, I am sure, but having taken advantage of and then standing against the abuse of the system, from within the system, I believe I’d run a prison into a significant decrease in recidivism with my system over a period of  between 8 to 15 years following implementation.

South Africa needs more qualified social workers. Socials workers need broader decision-making powers when it comes to the functioning of the prison on the ground. Security needs to enable that role. These are the two roles. Clearly defined and to my mind … obvious.

The Role of the Social Worker

I am repeating myself here, but the social worker or the Department of Social Welfare should be the custodian and overseer of every prison in South Africa. The role of security is to ensure that the system is conducive to the role of the social worker who in turn ensures that the environment in which prisoners are imprisoned for lengthy periods of time, is conducive to the change (rehabilitation) which is required to effectively return inmates to the social norm as contributors.

The current set up doesn’t make sense.

  • Currently the system says: “You must attend these programmes before you will be released on parole. So, what does the prisoner do, he DOES THE PROGRAMMES. This requires him to attend these courses for perhaps 2 or 3 hours a day if not a week, over a period of weeks or months. When he is done with that chore he returns to the population, organises his joint for the day or smuggles his extra meat (because he can) and prison life goes on.
  • He gets a certificate for each course or programme which he shows the parole board and they say, “very well, you have showed that you have applied yourself to the system”, and he gets a date (if he has served the minimum requirement) for release.
  • It is really a little more complicated than that, but this is an example which can be applied across a broad spectrum of aspects which keeps the incarceration system from realising its full potential.
  • There is no way a prisoner can ATTEND these programmes, he has to LIVE them. When returning to the population from a lesson in social theory he needs to go back to an environment which enables him to practice that theory. Simply put, you can’t do it any other way. South Africa needs to come to terms with that. South Africans need to put our emotions aside when dealing with the crime issue as a whole and realise that by demanding a system which differs to the norms of society we are actually increasing the ill.
  • You cannot force change to occur. It comes about through a process. If you try and force it, prisoners will tell you what you want to hear, not what they truly feel or believe. Someone has to lead the way to change and the only department equipped enough to deal with that change in the actual functioning of the system is the SOCIAL WORKER.

You will find that at most prisons a single social worker is allocated an office and in some, if not most instances, has a ‘prisoner attendance register’ in excess of 1000. He or She is expected to perform miracles from that office without having much impact or say when it comes to the functioning of the system on the ground – the daily routines and the lives which prisoners lead.

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Would You Do Business with a Killer?


Business with a ‘Killer’?

I’ll skip to the chase here. I’m an ex-convict. I ran away from home in my 12th year on this planet, led a seriously messed up life and eventually killed a man. I’ve spent over 20 years in South African prisons and around 35 years on the run (as a teen) from National Party reformatories, places of safety and police. Am I proud of this? No. Seriously not, but I can’t change it. All I can do is change my road ahead. I’ve been doing this, against many odds, for eight years …

Constructive Creativity

Constructive Creativity

The reason why I write this, place my head on a block to be slaughtered by society and put everything I have worked toward over the last eight years at risk, is simple. During a period in 2010 I lost 18 clients and a further 9 in January of 2011. Why? Someone who doesn’t like me called and/or sent emails to clients and told them I was a murderer. It was a heavy time.

It is happening again. Now I don’t know who this person is, but I’m a survivor and the only way I can ensure that this never happens again is to do it myself. Take it from me, I WAS screwed up and a little shit of larger proportions than my age.

But here’s the thing that meant a lot to me. After the 2010/11 period, a few of my clients responded to calls made to them by questioning me on what they had been told. I told them the truth. They are still my clients today. They believe in me and my services.

There I am … no frills, no mitigating circumstances. All I will say, is that the irony in my life is something which stands out when looking back and I hope to one day express this in a book called Ironic. For the moment, I know the risks I take by throwing this out there, but before you judge me, remove me as a connection or take your business away, please consider this. This is a message which covers a number of social issues in South Africa. One path I will walk in future.

OK … You Arrested Me … Now What?

Prisoner to Abramjee

I have a standard six. I learned what I learned following a life of crime and incarceration and in 8 years since I was released, I have been actively involved in sponsoring marketing for a number of Crime Initiatives and NPO’s. I have tried to draw attention to certain issues and built a blog to start expressing these views and sharing information about the actual working of the incarceration system on the ground and how the criminal thinks while incarcerated. More so, I have tried to draw attention to the corruption which has made our prisons crime colleges. I’ve been there 3 times, for long periods of time. I know what I’m talking about. The effects of incarceration on society, from my view, is evident in many of the social ill’s we are faced with.

During the next few weeks, I will be starting to talk about Crime and the Incarceration System via social media and every platform I can use in the little time I have. I will be focusing on public figures and organisations who have been approached by me, one of whom lost seriously sensitive paperwork and blocks me on all social channels for opposing their views when it comes to the fight against crime.

Adversity is my Friend

crimestop logoThe Oink Network will be open to all who want to do business with me. It IS a powerful tool for business, no matter who I am. So, to the caller out there … no matter what you do, no matter how much you want to destroy my life, you will never get it right. Even if I have to walk the beach & play tunes on my guitar for a dime, I will do that and I will still have a story to tell and a song to sing.

Crime and timeIf that offends you and you want me to stop living my life, you’ll have to kill me. It’s either that, or you can draw on my knowledge of a system which is failing you. Make adversity your friend. Believe me, there is wisdom in that choice. Hunt criminals down aggressively, but take time to consider the effects the system you send them to will have on the community you live in when they return.

Incarceration & The Legacies of Apartheid


The Incarceration System

A Tool in Addressing the Legacies which Remain

Who can deny that following 49 years of blatant inequality, oppression and suppression of approximately 35 to 40 million people, a nation, there would be legacies which remain following the collapse of Apartheid? Only a fool.

BUT… For how long can the current government hold that regime responsible for those legacies before they themselves (ANC) become accountable for having done nothing to address them? Not for too much longer, I would imagine. It is my opinion and firm belief, that the incarceration system is one crucial ‘function’ of society which can play a huge role in addressing those very real legacies and provide solutions for them.

HOWEVER… THE ATTITUDE (TOWARD THOSE IMPRISONED) OF SOCIETY ITSELF NEEDS TO CHANGE BEFORE THIS CAN HAPPEN. The emotion needs to give way to common sense and sound reasoning. Society needs to be convinced that society itself is responsible for the perpetuation of both the legacies of apartheid and the failure of the incarceration system to deliver results. Because of South Africa’s history, South Africa has specific problems of its own.

It is not necessarily true, although some would have us believe, that a solution to an American, Dutch, Canadian or English problem would serve as a solution to a South African problem. Why are we looking to other countries for solutions instead of scrutinizing our own and arriving at constructive and creative solutions for them. We need to heal and then grow. Our nation remains traumatized – this must change.

ADRESSING THOSE LEGACIES OF THE PAST

Before we can address those legacies, we must identify what those legacies are. However obvious this may sound, the reality is that the majority of us really don’t think that far. For many of us, comprehension comes only with explanation. For this purpose I will attempt to give a brief explanation which I hope will give a clear understanding of the basics of what we are dealing with here. … the legacies of apartheid. Apartheid was designed to provide for a minority of approximately 7 million people and sidelined, by classification, an overwhelming majority of approximately 40 million others. Inequality was the order of the day and as a result the following occured: (Remember that I’m keeping it simple)

1. * A lack of or inferior education of the masses led to unemployment. * Unemployment led to poverty among the majority. * Poverty led to crime … or a culture of crime.

2. * Classification (by skin colour) led to varying levels of suppression and oppression of the masses. * The varying levels of suppression and oppression led to a deep rooted inferiority complex among the majority which remains in evidence today. (Everything is blamed on racism) * That inferior feeling led to anger and resentment.

3. * The Group Areas Act led to the backbone of family life being broken among the masses (Families found themselves seperated). * The broken backbone of family life among the majority led to the damage of the core values of culture which led to – * A lesser emphasis on and respect for moral values and discipline. (Crucify me if you will)

The 3 scenarios described here and the effects thereof are still in evidence today. Sure, there has been much done to ensure improvement, opportunity is out there – but, is it really available to everyone? Does BEE extend itself to grass roots level where it is most needed? Does affirmative action benefit those who live on the fringes of society and where education and delivery remain a promise undelivered?

The truth is the majority of so-called previously disadvantaged remain uneducated, poverty struck, crime orientated, suppressed, inferior, resentful and without moral values and discipline. It should then come as no surprise that hundreds of thousands of these people will be processed through the courts and incarceration system from time to time. And what happens then?

What does the prison system actually do for them? I’ll say it blatantly – it turns them into recidivists, repeat offenders whose crimes become worse in nature – a vicious and repetitive cycle. Do they really deserve this when all is TRULY considered? Does society deserve this? NO! NO! NO! What does society deserve? An incarceration system which makes education compulsory and NOT a choice! A system which instills those core values of a functioning society in touch with its past and present. A system which restores self esteem, gives the individual a sense of worth and demands discipline and respect for the law.

Society needs to demand that prisoners make a contribution, that even while serving their sentences they apply themselves to the norm, adapt to it and conform to it following their release. The tax payer pays billions to catch criminals, but what does society do with them once they’ve been caught? They either forget about them or, true to form, they insist that prisoners be treated harshly, be denied privileges and that conditions be made as such that they never return to crime again.  This is a totally misconceived idea. Let’s talk. See also The Prison System in South Africa

The Prison System in South Africa


Understanding the Purpose of Incarceration

There are many opinions of what the purpose of the prison system is, but at the end of the day, the purpose of incarceration is to transform liabilities into contributors through a process.  HOW this is achieved and through what process are questions to which answers appear to remain elusive … or is it a case of society not listening or logic being blocked by emotion? I believe it is a mixture of both and more, ignorance being a major player and shallow thinking at leadership level being another culprit.

Before we can understand the purpose of imprisoning criminals, we need to understand that the criminal and the prisoner are two very different personalities. The issue of crime out on the street, in your home, at your business and in government etc.  needs to be approached in one way and the other, criminals behind bars, in another. The one needs to be hunted down aggressively and the other needs to subjected to a form of justice which punishes but ultimately heals or solves the problem. Prisons are one such form of justice but does the system actually do justice through the process which is in place? In short … NO. It does not.

We need to accept that when a criminal is convicted of a crime, the sentence imposed IS the punishment. What he is subjected to behind those walls over the time he spends there will determine the character which is ejected from that system and returned to society. The criminal is NOT sent to prison FOR punishment. The sentence imposed IS the punishment. What you do with the criminal once you have caught him and made him your prisoner will determine recidivism and all it suggests.

Recidivism

Recidivism is not a problem. Recidivism is an indication that the SYSTEM is a problem. Recidivism is an indication that there is a certain section of our population which is stuck in a cycle of crime. High recidivism rates suggest that the solution is in fact the problem … and a growing one.

If we really want to see results in the fight against crime, we need to think hard about what we do with criminals once we have made them our prisoners.

What Are The Solutions?

Attitude Change Is One Solution

I think I can safely say that South Africa has been financially, emotionally, psychologically and physically abused by criminals. Crime is evident at all levels of society. It is a natural response to be angered and to think of revenge but it has long reached the extent where logic becomes lost and emotion dictates the outcome and the outcome is a repetitive cycle of crime.

Firstly, calling for criminals to be sent to prison and to be subjected to all kinds of harsh treatment sets the victim up to becoming a victim again. Setting emotion aside is imperative when debating crime, the solutions to crime and the incarceration system in our country.

A Few Points to Ponder

  • Crime is a social issue. Its roots lie within society itself. Treating it as something apart from society is destructive.
  • Is it reasonable to remove a person from the norm, place them in an environment which differs to the norm for extended periods of time and expect them to conform to the norm upon their return to it?
  • Effective ‘rehabilitation’ requires that an inmate be subjected to a system seperated from but not fundamentally different to the norm.
  • By continually calling for harsh treatment of prisoners during the incarceration process you are responsible for perpetuating a cycle of crime AND those legacies which oppressed our people.

Crime Line | Anonymous Tip-Off

I’d like to invite you to email me or to place your comments here on this blog post if you would like to get together and debate these issues. If you oppose my views, let’s get together and put our differences on the table.

If you have strong views on crime and incarceration I invite you enter into a discussion with me. Let’s arrange a MeetUp and debate toward one constructive solution. Just because we have different views doesn’t mean we should not tackle those differences without fighting one another. Give me a shout. Let’s talk. (mails via ccf@oink.co.za) or add your comment below. See also Incarcerattion & the Legacies of Apartheid