Correctional Services says it can accommodate Pistorius should he be incarcerated

SEPTEMBER 11, 2014

The Department of Correctional Services says it has a policy regarding the handling of inmates with disabilities, which stipulates that inmates will be accommodated in line with their type of disability. In a statement on Thursday, the department, however said each case was evaluated on its own merit.

This comes as athlete Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial wraps up on the North Gauteng High Court. Certain reports have questioned whether vulnerable prisoners, such as Pistorius should he be found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February last year, have all their needs seen to while incarcerated.

According to the department, on admission, offenders provide all the necessary information about their disability to authorities. This information has to be dealt with in a sensitive manner, and must be reflected in the admission risk, and needs, assessment that must be completed in the first six hours of admission.

Offenders with disabilities must be oriented about the Correctional Centre. All possible, and available, resources, health care services and facilities that will be an aid of their special needs must be explained, and shown, to them during admission, says the policy.

Also on admission, assistive devices that the offender needs should not be taken away from them but should be recorded and utilised by them.

The policy says the Correctional Centre admitting offenders must have assistive devices (such as wheelchairs) which should be kept at the hospital section as well as a resource list of available interpreters, and other resources, which can be accessible to offenders with disabilities.

Correctional Services officials working on the admission of the offender should also to be trained in disability issues.

When the need arises, health care workers must be available to address the health needs of all offenders, including offenders with disabilities, according to the policy.

The department said that given that disabilities differ vastly, it was not feasible to build, or adapt, a correctional facility to disabilities in general.

“Far more effective is an assessment, at centre level, regarding the needs of each specific inmate, disabled or not, and ensuring that they are accommodated appropriately. The suitability of a facility for an inmate depends on his or her disability,” said the department.

It added that separate accommodation is arranged depending on the vulnerability caused by the disability.

The department said the rights outlined the Constitution, which guarantees human rights for all people including women, children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable sectors of society, were entrenched in the Correctional Services Act and department’s policy for inmates with disabilities. –