For someone who has been in jail for a long time, being released during the festive season can be a fantastic and extraordinary experience as they get to reunite with their friends and family.

Relieving Overcrowding and Reducing Recidivism

Jails are typically overcrowded, and individuals are arrested and sentenced to prison every day. Releasing inmates who have potentially been rehabilitated helps reduce the congestion, making room for those entering the system, and the cycle continues.

Summer vs. Winter Releases

December is an ideal time for prisoners to be released because it is summer, the sun is hot, and everyone is in a cheerful mood. Some inmates are homeless, and releasing them during winter would lead to more problems, as they might resort to criminal activities to return to prison and escape the harsh cold.

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Support and Rehabilitation 

Certain inmates are indeed homeless on the streets, and being in prison provides them with shelter. While they may receive only two hot meals, they also have access to medical care, mental health services, and some structure and stability. Additionally, being in prison offers a respite from heavy drug use.

Releasing Inmates on Fridays

Since it is the festive season, everyone is celebrating Christmas, creating a less conducive environment for prisoners to return to jail compared to the winter when the jails are full. I would suggest that the best day of the week to release a prisoner is Friday because it allows them to enter the weekend, giving them more time to catch up with their loved ones who are often at home.

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Preparing for a Fresh Start in the New Year

When inmates are released during the December holidays, they have the opportunity to relax and reflect on their lives as they prepare for the new year. It is a beneficial time for those released on parole and those who have spent a long time in jail to surround themselves with supportive individuals who encourage them to lead better lives without resorting to criminal activities and drug abuse.

DISCLAIMER: Submission published as received

RESTORE is an NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa, providing inmates at Pollsmoor Prison with restorative justice opportunities.

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