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Thursday, May 18, 2017


Africans that helped South Africans to fight against Apartheid are now being killed in South Africa because they claim the immigrants have taken their jobs

Africans that helped South Africans to fight against Apartheid are now being killed in South Africa because they claim the immigrants have taken their jobs

This is the concluding part of Rev Dr. James V. Fatuse’s experience and efforts to build peace between inmates and officials at St. Albans Correctional Centers, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The Framework 

Work in prison is a public service. Prison authorities should have accountability to an elected legislature and the public should be regularly informed about the state and aspirations of the prisons. 

Government ministers and senior administrators should make clear that they hold prison staff in high regard for the work they do and the public should frequently be reminded that prison work is an important public service.

When people think of prisons they tend to consider their physical aspect: walls, fences, a building with locked doors and windows with bars. The reality is that the most important aspect of a prison is the human dimension since prisons are primarily concerned with people. 

The two most important groups of people in a prison are the prisoners and the staff who look after them. The key to a well-managed prison is the nature of the relationship between these two groups.

The need for good staff Prisons cannot usually select their prisoners; they have to accept whoever is sent to them by the court or the legal authority. They can, however, choose their staff. It is essential that the staff should be carefully selected, properly trained, supervised and supported. Prison work is demanding. 

It involves working with men and women who have been deprived of their liberty, many of whom are likely to be mentally disturbed, suffer from addictions, have poor social and educational skills and come from marginalized groups in society. 

Some will be a threat to the public; some will be dangerous and aggressive; others will try very hard to escape. None of them wants to be in prison. Each of them is an individual person.

The role of prison staff is: To treat prisoners in a manner which is decent, humane and just To ensure that all prisoners are safe To make sure that dangerous prisoners do not escape To make sure that there are good order and control in prisons To provide prisoners with the opportunity to use their time in prison positively so that they will be able to resettle into society when they are released

It requires great skill and personal integrity to carry out this work in a professional manner. This means first of all that men and women who are to work in prisons need to be carefully chosen to make sure that they have the appropriate personal qualities and educational background. They then need to be given proper training in the principles which should underlie their work.

and in the human and technical skills which are required. Throughout their careers, they should be given the opportunity to develop and expand these skills and to keep up to date with the latest thinking on prison issues.

The danger of insularity Prison staff generally works in an enclosed and isolated environment which, over time, can make them narrow and inflexible. The way they are trained and managed needs to be designed to guard against this insularity. 

Staff needs to remain sensitive to changes in the wider society from which their prisoners come and to which they will return. This will be particularly important where prisons are remotely sited and staff lives in accommodation attached to the prison.

The status of prison staff Generally speaking prison staff are held in lower regard than other people who work in the criminal justice field, such as the police. This is often reflected in the pay of prison staff, which in many countries is very low. 

As a consequence, it is often very difficult to recruit properly qualified staff to work in prisons. In order to attract and to retain high-quality personnel, it is essential that salaries should be set at a proper level and that the other conditions of employment should be the same as in comparable work elsewhere in the public service.

The need for professionalism First line prison staff need to understand that they are not merely guards, whose sole task is to deprive people of their liberty. They are certainly not vigilantes, whose task is to inflict a greater punishment than that already imposed by the judicial authorities. 

Instead, they have to combine a custodial role with an educational and reformative role. This requires great personal talent and professional skill.

Personal qualities of staff Working in prison requires a unique combination of personal qualities and technical skills. Prison staff needs personal qualities which enable them to deal with all prisoners including the difficult and the dangerous in an even-handed, humane and just manner. 

This means that there should be strict recruitment and selection processes so that only persons with the right qualities are taken into the organization. Only when these are in place will it be possible to describe work in prisons as a profession.

The perils of poor staffing In many countries it is very difficult to recruit anyone to work in a prison. As a result, the only people who will work there are those who cannot find any other means of employment. Sometimes they will come to work in the prison service as an alternative to carrying out obligatory military service and will leave as soon as

they can. Since they are also badly trained and poorly paid, it is predictable that they have little professional pride in their work, that they are vulnerable to temptations to become involved in corrupt practices and that they have no sense of carrying out a worthwhile public service.

A coherent strategy To instill into staff such as these a sense of vision or a belief that what they do is of value is a huge task for those who are in charge of a prison system. It cannot be done in a haphazard manner, nor will it come about by accident. It can only be achieved if there is a coherent strategy based on the premise that good staff who are publicly valued are the key to a good prison system.

Those with responsibility for prisons and prison systems should look beyond technical and managerial considerations. They also have to be leaders who are capable of enthusing the staff for whom they are responsible with a sense of value in the way they carry out their difficult daily tasks. 

They need to be men and women who have a clear vision and a determination to maintain the highest standards in the difficult work of prison management. They need to reassure staff constantly that the work they do is important for society and is highly valued by it.


The neglect of prison staff Prison officers is in many ways the invisible ghosts of penalty. They are often portrayed, if at all, as the ‘ghastly/horrific alter ego’ of liberal enlightened senior management —or even of liberal enlightened academics. They embody ‘the power to punish’, expressing its essence, representing everything that is dangerous and unpalatable about the use of power. 

It is well known that staff-prisoner relationships are fundamental to prison life and that they can go wrong in several different ways: they can be too close, too flexible, too distant, and too rigid. They can also be too risk averse and too superficial, and they can be insufficiently or, paradoxically, too trusting. 

Drugs, money, gangs, love and cell phones: How prison officials go badly  It has been a norm in the Correctional Centers in the Republic of South Africa where officials turned against the work ethics and become drug traffickers. 

This is life at St. Albans Correctional Center, because being poorly paid, they resorted to collaborate with certain inmates to become agents of drugs trafficking leaving under the rule and control of their incarcerated bosses. 

Many times they were apprehended carrying drugs to deliver to inmates and consequences were them losing their job and be arrested. As a chief facilitator of Restorative Justice in the center, I hear every now and then of the official’s bad conduct either than drugs but squabbling inmates monies, making love with inmates, trafficking cell phones inside the center in exchange for cash. 

It is well known by the highest authorities that some correctional officials do belong to gangs and the relationship between them fails to maintain worker and inmates serving his crime sentence behind bars. Because of this broken relationship at St. Albans Correctional center has resulted to in fight amongst inmates, stabbing, assault and transfer of inmates from this center to various center across the Republic. 

Because of this broken relationship between correctional officers and inmates, has resulted in many official stabbings same as the last December 2016 incident. One thing that also contributes to these stabbing is for the correctional officers denying inmates programs, exercises and from January to December was lock down the system. 

That broken relationship between correctional officers and inmates at times come as a result arrogance, bad behavior, conduct and treating inmates as nobody respecting their rights and dignities.

Sometimes the very same correctional officials orchestrate their stabbings or assaults because they want to claims and sue the state or are medically boarded. For the peace to prevail between correctional center officials and inmates it will take time because of what I’ve mentioned above. 

One thing that dehumanized inmates many times behind bars is the system used for searching in their cells, namely: the task force makes inmates strip naked irrespective of ages and thereafter laugh when looking to their manhood, they destroy their belongings, steal items from inmates under the pretense of searching for illegal items, and sometimes plant illegal substance(s) to lockers of those giving problems or complaints to senior officials. 

These conducts will always drive inmates crazy and wanted to revenge in either way for being ill-treated without any reasons. Therefore, there is a need for a diagnostic on why rehabilitation has failed at St. Albans Correctional Centers in order to point out all those irregularities.

Looking to the work that supposed to be done by the Inspectorate judge at times, I find it questionable because there is organ that can root out these problems to normalized tension between officials and inmates but according to my view(s) they should lift up their socks to clear the air in these centers. 

Overcrowding, poor facilities, one shower and toilet for +65 inmates in one cell, unequal treatment that comes as a result of those who have money to be given preferential treatment than those who have nothing are the causes of broken relationships between correctional officers and inmates. 

Sometimes the very same correctional officials who supposed to uphold to the ethics of their job, are able to bribe inmates when they have conflict amongst themselves to the opponent to be assaulted or stabbed to settle scores. All that I’ve mentioned above contributes to the chaos that we see today inside St. Albans Correctional Centres and these things are known by the highest authorities but failed to take further actions to stop these.

Staff inexperience and training

There is no clear relationship between staff experience and prisoner-prisoner violence, but consistent evidence that staff inexperience is a factor influencing violence by prisoners against staff. In this article, I found that work experience of officers, with trainees receiving a disproportionate number of assaults, was one of the four most important factors related to prisoner-staff assault. 

Munroe's study of aggressive and non-aggressive offender responses to an unknown prison officer suggest that “inexperienced prison officers are more likely to become involved in violent incidents because they are perceived by aggressive prisoners as 'ambiguous'” (Munroe, 1995:245).

Vulnerability to violence

Article evidence suggests vulnerability to victimization and violence in prison is associated with a number of factors (younger age, race, homosexuality, transsexuality, the status of offense) and that certain prisoners both feel and in fact, are more vulnerable to victimization and violence. 

Racial institutional violence is also well noted as influencing the extent of violence against correctional officials and inmates in the prison system. However, in this article, I also found that while victimization is persistent at St. Albans Correctional centers, there are many misconceptions about the nature of victimization and that these are often counter-intuitive. 

For example, victims and victimized are not discrete groups, with those who victimized others often likely to be victims themselves, making an understanding of the nature of the conflict in prisons a matter of central importance. Prisoners rarely reported their victimization to staff.

Institutional reforms and management practices

Ultimately even the smallest features of prison life depend on management, but in this article, my focus is not specialized programs or specific aspects of the prison environment, but policies or programs that affect the whole institution. The distinction, of course, is artificial but is convenient for present purposes.


Although the picture is complex, and some inconsistent findings have emerged, generally the literature supports the notion that the more coercive or powerful the prison environment the greater the potential for violence and no ‘SHALOM’. 

This is especially so where prison management and treatment of prisoners are perceived by prisoners as unfair or illegitimate, as this strengthens prisoner solidarity in opposition to the authorities. 

This, in turn, threatens the legitimacy of the regime and reduces prisoner compliance. Conversely, Correctional Centers that provide more opportunities for prisoner participation in education,
restorative justice and vocational programs and promote self-efficacy, generally report reduced levels of rule violations and violence.

The literature also strongly supports the contention that situational strategies are amongst the most powerful weapons in our armoury. The prison environment is such a powerful influence, whether understood in physical, psychological, social or cultural terms, that it must become much more the focus of attention in devising prevention policies. 

Many possible strategies are now ‘on the menu,’ but each requires careful development and evaluation, with an eye to the broader dimensions of prison control discussed in this article. A whole-of-prison approach that thoughtfully combines situational and social prevention strategies, supported by appropriate management policies and research-based staff recruitment and training practices, is probably the most promising model for reducing interpersonal violence in prisons.

References Bottoms, Anthony E., William Hay, and J. Richard Sparks (1995). “Situational and Social Approaches to the Prevention of Disorder in Long-Term Prisons.” Long - Term Imprisonment: Policy, Science, and Correctional Practice. Editor. 

Timothy J. Flanagan. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage. Clarke, R. and R. Homel. (1997). “A Revised Classification of Situational Crime Prevention Techniques.” Crime Prevention at a Crossroads. Editor. Stephen P. Lab. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson.

Harer, Miles D., and Darrell J. Steffensmeier. (1996). “Race and Prison Violence.” Criminology 34.3: 323-355.

Mandela, N. (1994) Long Walk to Freedom. London: Little Brown

United Nations General Assembly (2009) The right to education of persons in detention: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education. Geneva: UN

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (2003) Resolution on Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture, Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa (The Robben Island Guidelines). Banjul: ACHPR

Liebling, Alison and D Price (1998) ‘Staff–Prisoner Relationships: A Summary of Research’, Prison Service Journal 120: 3–6.

Act No. 111, 1998 CORMCTIONAL SERVICES ACT, 1998


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