The Tenuous Link between Crime and Incarceration: Bosasa’s Public-private Partnership
Keywords:Prison industrial complex, Bosasa, Department of Correctional Services, Aggrizi's testimony, Corruption, Fiscal diversion, Fiscal dumping
Bosasa’s role in facilitating the fact that South Africa has one of the highest crime rates as well as one of the highest rates of recidivism in the world, is interrogated in this contribution. The article sets out—through the lens of a Marxist reading of crime in a capitalist society—to explain the phenomenon in terms of the existence of a Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). This was exposed in recent months by evidence at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, which revealed alarming levels of corruption at the Department of Correctional Services, as well as fraudulent collusion with its corporate partners. This strongly suggests the existence of a PIC; part of an avaricious “shadow state” referenced by recent literature on state capture in South Africa. It is contended that even though the Zondo Commission has not completed its hearings, sufficient evidence is available to argue the case that Bosasa, as part of a PIC, has aggravated our recidivism rates and distorted our understanding of crime. The article, drawing on comparative examples, suggests that the high recidivism rate in South Africa can at least partially be explained by a PIC which inclines the Department of Correctional Services—within the context of a stigmatising shaming culture based on incarceration as our dominant sentencing regime—to recycle prisoners for profit rather than to see them rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
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