Lukas Muntingh and Clare Ballard of the Community Law Centre have published a report on the situation of children in prison in South Africa. The report is an update of the study conducted by the Community Law Centre in 1997 before the Chid Justice Act was enacted. It reviews the situation of children against a number of child justice indicators applicable to imprisonment developed by UNICEF and UNODC.
Key findings include:
- The total number of children in South African prisons decreased significantly between the mid-1990s and 2003 followed by a gradual, but sustained decline.
- The average time spent in pre-trial detention is 120 days.
- In general, children are informed of their right to legal representation when they are admitted to prison, however the majority of children admitted to prison that participated in the study had not, contrary to the requirements of the Correctional Services Act, been provided with information about their other rights and responsibilities.
- No educational programmes were provided to children awaiting trial despite the requirement that children of compulsory school-going age attend an educational programme. The situation was better for sentenced children who had access to, but did not always make use of educational programmes.
- There is little consistency in terms of children’s access to social work and psychological services.
- Access to recreational services is poor and inconsistent across facilities.
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