In Their Boots: Staff Perspectives on Violence Behind Bars in Johannesburg

Very little is known about what the officers working in our prisons actually do, including how they interact with the pressing issue of violence — or risks and threats of violence. Shocking reports of abuses behind bars intermittently grab the headlines, reminding us that torture remains a feature of our landscape, and in need of urgent attention. But we know little of the broader picture. What fuels prison violence? What does this violence look like? What strategies do officers use in their efforts to prevent and address it, and to what extent do they draw on personal discretion? What obstacles do they face in the process; and how does all this relate to fundamental concerns like severe staff shortages, corruption, sexual abuse, and torture?

On the basis of an innovative methodology, “In Their Boots” provides rare insight and tackles these questions — critical to making the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) facilities safer for inmates and officials.

The full report can be found here