Thursday, February 16, 2006

The cost and benefit of locking up recidivists

An snip from Sensible Sentencing's site:

"...We have left out the cost of High Court cases, of which there were 394 jury cases and 972 appeals. These tend to cost even more. Now, given that assault cases generally result in jury trials (an assumption supported by the fact that there were 2317 cases involving violence resulting in prison sentences in 1998), we now have court costs of $14,600 for the two assaults.

If we were to assume that the burglary merely results in what is called in the Report a "criminal summary jurisdiction - police information", of which there were 269,330 in the period 1998/1999, at a cost of $33,048,000, this gives a court cost of $122 (probably a lot more than that in reality too). Add this to the court cost figure of $14,600 above, and we arrive at say a round figure of $14,700. Add to this the cost to the victims of $29,488, and suddenly this offender has already cost us over $44,000 to release per year.

Add now to this the cost of a benefit. Realistically, it is extremely unlikely that such an offender will be in paid employment, as overall only 35.2% of offenders cited paid employment as their source of income prior to entering prison (12). It would be reasonable to assume that the odds would be even lower for the average repeat violent offender. Given that the average benefit will be roughly $200 per week, this makes another $10,000 per year our hypothetical scumbag is costing the taxpayer.

We are now up to $54,000 per year give or take. Add now the cost of probation for which we could not find a cost figure but assume that it will be the same as that for periodic detention, $2325 per year (13) and we are over $56,000. Hmmm.... where did our "savings" from not putting this lowlife in prison get to I wonder...?

This is a purely hypothetical case, but demonstrates a point. Imprisonment is expensive, but it is still cheaper than all the alternatives, at least for repeat violent offenders. Our hypothetical scumbag is moreover in the lower range of offending and will be close to the crossover point on the graph. Now take a look at that table of costs to victims above, and work out the outcomes where just one rape is involved. The cost to just one victim outweighs the cost of a years' imprisonment, without factoring in any of the other costs..."

Much more Here

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