Saturday, 19 January 2008

And what is wrong with jailing criminals?

The Stupid has an article today about how NSW leads the stakes in jailing people for certain crimes.

Some incredibly stupid statements are attributed to an academic:

"The result of that has been it affects the NSW taxpayer and affects the services - including roads and the hospital system - because more money is going into jails in NSW when there are some reasonable alternatives," (The criminologist Paul Wilson, from Bond University in Queensland).

My suspicion is that the type of people that he refers to are already a burden on the taxpayer in some form or another. They're probably public housing users, big consumers of Police and hospital emergency time, addicted to welfare rather than work, and all sorts of social services only exist because of these people. Think of DOCS and all the other do-gooder agencies.

Putting them in prison is not cheap, but leaving them to roam the streets is not cheap either. If we locked up a large number of criminals for a long time, would we see a reduction in the demand for all the above mentioned services?

I believe so. Although shrinking a government agency is never easy, so we'd probably continue to have bloated departments full of people suddenly not having much to do.

NSW reported the highest imprisonment rate in Australia as a proportion for sexual assault (with 93 per cent of people convicted of those offences being jailed), robbery (82 per cent jailed) and more serious robbery offences (84 per cent). More people were jailed for breaking and entering and burglary offences (77 per cent) than in all other Australian and international jurisdictions, including the United States (72 per cent) and England (70 per cent).

That makes me feel much better. I like the fact that we lock the buggers up more than anyone else.

The report confirmed a "generally high rate of recidivism" in NSW, showing that jail was not resulting in rehabilitation.

No, what that means is that we are not locking them up for long enough.

The report also showed that many people in NSW were receiving short custodial sentences. In 2006, 27 per cent of the NSW prison population were serving a sentence of less than two years.

I can't understand why we're not locking burglars up for say 5 years at a stretch. The longer they spend behind bars, the fewer people they can rob. They'll eventually reach an age where they are too old to climb through windows or over fences, and their burgling days will be over, and we can cease to lock them up.

If some people have to spend 90% or more of their life from the age of 15 to 45 behind bars, I am not going to weep.

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