Press Releases
Press Releases

5 May 2022

Betzi Pierce, CEO of NICRO

Around R1,63 billion is currently being spent to house inmates in our prisons, each year, with no improvement in the rate of crime to show for it. To help the situation, NICRO can offer tested interventions, rooted in restorative justice, at a cost of R6500 per person, per programme. There are between 140 000 and 150 000 inmates currently serving prison sentences in our prisons. Sustaining them costs the taxpayer R10 890 per inmate, per month, for the duration of their sentence.  

Of the inmates in our prisons, there are three main categories: Those awaiting trial, due to the backlogs in our judicial system.  Those who might have been eligible to be diverted or to serve a non-custodial sentence.  And, of course, there are those prisoners who are guilty of crime, and due to their propensity to committing crime, simply do need to be imprisoned.  

Differentiating between these categories is important if we want to have a real shot at reducing the rate of crime in our country: If we change the way we process less-serious offenders, who do not necessarily need to be housed in prison, we can cut down on the number of people we need to sustain.  

Moreover; this will also help avoid exposure to the negative socialisation that happens in our prisons that produces hardened criminals. 

Our prisons are universities of crime: Many of the minor, or less-serious offenders who have been imprisoned could have undergone an alternative intervention. But due to the lack of access to such interventions, they are sent to jail and are instead much more likely to become hardened criminals as a result. The fact that most prisoners re-offend when they are released is evidence that we have a better chance at reintegrating offenders, if they are not exposed to the negative socialisation that happens in our prisons, in the first place. 

“Alternative interventions mean less risk for society upon the completion of the programme, as opposed to an increased risk of reoffending, upon release from prison” - CEO of NICRO, Betzi Pierce. 

NICRO has two main interventions that can help address this issue, namely; diversion and non-custodial sentencing. 

Mitigating factors can legitimately be taken into account when processing a case. In these instances, a person can justly be diverted, or be given a non-custodial sentence, rather than spending the months, and years in prison, at the cost of the taxpayer, only to leave there with a much higher likelihood of committing crime. 

At NICRO, these programmes have their foundations in cognitive behavioural therapy. We offer counseling that addresses the root causes of criminal behaviour, to bring about a lasting change, where offenders are far less likely to commit crimes again. 

We invite the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and the Department of Correctional Services to partner with us, and widen these sustainable interventions to reduce the harmful impact of crime as well as the cost of imprisonment.