Prison Beds or Educated Society
Two point five billion dollars.
$2.5 billion dollars.
That’s a lot of dollar coins.
Let me tell you what they will spend it on.
No. Not fixing the poverty problem sweeping the country. No. Not assisting children living in impoverished situations. No. Not sorting out the public health situation with junior doctors striking today. No. Not addressing the lack of funding in mental health with suicide prevention and support.
So, after earlier this week scrutinising that crime is caused by poverty, rather than address the poverty situation that is staring everyone in the face (and not likely to go away just because you keep staring back), Judith Collins and her cronies announce that $1 billion of that cash injection will be used to create living arrangements for an additional 1800 inmates.
To put those numbers into perspective; that’s $555,555.55 per bed. Five hundred and fifty five and a half THOUSAND dollars per room with a bed and a pan. To contain another criminal.
For me, it’s non-sensical. It’s backwards. It’s purely responsive, rather than proactive.
EVERY piece of research out there suggests that there is strong links between poverty and crime, as well as, education and crime. Surely (or is it just me) crime PREVENTION is a better use of money than catering for an increase of criminals into the system?
You can’t prevent crime; but with strong links between poverty, education and the outcome of crime, then surely dealing with poverty and education is where the focus needs to be?
If you are educated, then you know to read and write, you’re more likely to be able to get a job, you are more likely to be able to hold down a job, and the less likely you are to find yourself needing to get into trouble.
And I’m not even an expert in the field. I haven’t had to research this. It is pure, bloody common sense. and logical thinking.
There are currently 9,798 inmates in the current corrections system (Sept 2016).
Let’s divide that spending out per inmate (I’ll even include the additional 1,800 inmates that these extra beds will allow for!)
$2,500,000,000 / 11,598 = $215,554.40NZD per inmate
Now, that is spread out over ‘about 5 years’.
$215,554.40 / 5 = $43,110.88NZD per inmate, per year.
That’s an ADDITIONAL forty three thousand dollars per inmate each year for the next five years, including the extra 1,800 inmates that they are supposedly catering for.
Currently, in education, spending on each student is $7,046.00.
Let’s see those numbers next to each other.
What an absolute joke. Remember, the blue area in the graphs is what the corrections system is getting ON TOP OF the additional funding provided in the current budget already.
Earlier in 2015, the Government announced a generous $359 million boost into the Education sector, but in a very restrictive way of schools being cajoled into CoL’s (Communities of Learning). To compare this with the $2.5 billion it’s just embarrassing. Here’s the graph for that as a comparison between what the Government is prepared to spend as ‘extra’. As a picture, it’s ridiculously similar to the current funding for students compared with the additional funding Corrections is getting.
United States has this problem: Not one State spends more on student education than it does for incarceration.
Now; don’t get me wrong. I am not here for a second suggesting that corrections does not need support; nor am I saying anything about how or where they spend their money. They have a job to do, and certain criminals do need “restricting in their day-to-day activities”, but lets start to look at solutions for the problem, rather than just catering for it.
Let’s buy sunscreen rather than melanoma treatments.
Let’s fix the hole in the bucket rather than filling it up time and time again.
Let’s put a fence at the top of the cliff rather than an ambulance at the bottom.
Let’s start investing in children, the next generation, the education of people, poverty, and homelessness rather than catering for the criminals that they will likely become because we continue to ignore the impact education and poverty are having on society today.