$10.7m for prison consultancies should have gone to tackling the causes of crime, says Smart Justice

September 02, 2013 |

The $10.7 million in consultancies reported to have been spent on developing the new 500-bed Ravenhall private prison would have been far better spent on tackling the causes of crime, according to Smart Justice, a coalition of 27 organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.

“Every dollar spent on new prisons is a dollar we can’t spend on preventing crime before it happens,” said Smart Justice spokesperson, Michelle McDonnell, today.

“The Callinan Review recently highlighted a badly under-resourced parole system, but in National Child Protection Week, we need to acknowledge that much greater investment is also needed to address disadvantages that often begin in childhood and place young people at risk of entering the justice system.

“Diversion programs can prevent young people becoming further criminalised by the prison system, take pressure off over-crowded prisons and a pressured parole system, and reduce the reoffending that research shows is actually promoted by time in jail.

“It costs much less to help young people stay away from crime, than it does to jail them. Yet in Victoria, where a young person under 18 subject to a child protection order can be transferred to solitary confinement in a maximum security adult prison, we are seeing projected expenditure of more than $1 billion dollars over the next decade at the expense of programs to tackle the causes of crime.

Ms McDonnell said that prevention programs could do a lot with $10 million, yet the Victorian Gov-ernment’s decision to put prisons before prevention meant it was now having to spend it on consultants for a prison that would generate private profits at a massive cost to society.

“Prisons contain the aftermath of crime that has already happened. If we want to address the increase in crime that has occurred in the face of Victoria’s ineffective tough-on-crime agenda, we need to look urgently at prevention,” Ms McDonnell said.

For interview:
Michelle McDonnell 0488 778 099

For media information:
Darren Lewin-Hill 0488 773 535

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