Overcrowded prison holding areas in California. Should Australia really go down the increased imprisonment route? AAP/California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
“Australia spends billions of dollars every year on our prison system yet the number of those being sent to jail keeps increasing.
“Is this sustainable? Simple logic would suggest not, unless we want to start actively cutting health and education budgets to warehouse criminals.
“Wouldn’t we better off spending that money more wisely, trying to prevent people ending up in jail rather than providing facilities when they are sentenced to custody?
“‘Justice reinvested’ may sound like a new term here in Australia, but the concept is one which I have been urging for more than twenty years.
“It is built on the understanding that our present criminal justice system, and especially our prisons, are not working effectively in the service of the wider community and is failing in its attempts to maintain community safety and to build community harmony.
“Given expenditure on Australian prisons is now approaching $2 billion a year, it is also a particularly expensive operation. Consequently the ‘justice reinvestment’ movement proposes that it is now time to consider more effective and more economically viable alternatives.
“So ‘justice reinvestment’ is about not only reinvesting the money that we are currently spending on the construction and operation of an expanding prison network in more effective programs of crime prevention and control, but also ensuring that we protect the human resources that have been substantially impacted by this expansion: particularly our indigenous population, migrant and refugee communities, the mentally ill, the homeless and persons from low income families and neighbourhoods.
“Surprisingly this movement has been given momentum by some of the more conservative political forces operating in the United States, namely Republican representatives in Texas.”