Our community our State and Federal Governments are grappling with burgeoning prison populations and increasing costs of incarceration. Currently the only beneficiaries are the prison owners who contract their services out to the State. Currently, Governments support the private prison operators or contractors, by ensuring that each aspect of the correctional system encourages continued incarceration while denying opportunities for any supports that may lead to rehabilitation.
[expand title=”????”]We have had a law and order rhetoric from politicians and leaders for some time, however the only solution the community has been offered is incarceration. Notably, arguments tend to focus on a political ideology about which party has the best law and order response to criminal activity, and now our community has a generally positive response, to the idea of a punitive system to act as deterrent to criminal activity.
The current system, particularly in Queensland uses this deterrent concept. But is it working?
Not according to the figures.
Between 2008 – 2009 the Queensland Government undertook development of the women’s correctional facility at Gatton. Stage One costs are $485.1M. Stage One of the men’s correctional facility at Gatton cost is at $485.6M. Massive expenditure.
In 2009 – 2010 the average community corrections offender population was 15,054 compared to 12,024 in 2005-2006. This is a growth of 25% in just five years! So if we continue to use this model we will need more and more prisons. The cost of incarceration per annum per prisoner is $105,000.
Justice reinvestment recognises that the correctional system, as it is, has failed to decrease crime, in spite of the tough on crime rhetoric. Justice reinvestment strategies will take into account criminal justice trends in an effort to understand what might be causes for the growth in our prison populations. From that analysis, the justice reinvestment model will develop policy options which focus on specific areas for decreasing the growth of the correctional populations. This has the added benefit, of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of any current spending or government investment, and ensures that the legitimate community needs of public safety and other law and order issues are properly addressed.
Justice reinvestment then is: reinvesting public monies, currently spent in and on our Justice system, into cost effective community strategies that support the rehabilitation and reconnection with local communities, of our existing prisoners. This is not necessarily a complete strategy that will work for all sectors of the prison population and who could be eligible for such an intervention, remains to be identified.
Justice reinvestment identifies alternative justice strategies with the broad focus of reducing costs by implementing quality strategies and delivering identifiable outcomes with benefits such as:
• Breaking the cycle of substance abuse reinstatement post release
• Reducing re-offending
• Prevent re-incarceration
• Highlight community (density) trouble spots and implement positive long term, preventative strategies
Justice reinvestment refers to policy development and implementation of strategies which focus on reducing the numbers of inmates in our correctional facilities and “reinvesting” the financial costs of incarceration into alternative programs and projects that will break the cycles of recidivism into substance abuse, re-offending and subsequent re-incarceration.