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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The joke of $65 million prison rehabilitation money

Budget 2012: $65m on reducing reoffending
The Government has revealed it will spend $65 million in the upcoming Budget on reducing criminal reoffending.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley and Associate Corrections Minister Dr Pita Sharples said the 'reprioritised' operational funding was aimed at reducing reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.

It would go towards alcohol and drug treatment, increased education, skills training and employment programmes for prisoners.

Mrs Tolley said the funding would mean 18,500 fewer victims of crime and 600 less prisoners in jail in 2017 than last year.

It's tedious the way spare change is allowed to blind punters during budget time to the wider context, so let's all pray to the News Gods that the mainstream media won't get sucked in hook line and sinker.

On one tiny level, the concession that the raw meat lynch mob sensible sentencing trust lock em up throw away the key style of law and order is utterly counter productive if there is no rehabilitation. But that tiny concession of what Bill English described as the moral and fiscal failure of our prison system doesn't go nearly far enough to forgive the private prison sin.

$65 million over 4 years for desperately needed rehab is a smokescreen story so that the 10 000 pound albino gorilla in the corrections budget won't be noticed.

It is this jaw dropping $900 million private prison. Why are we blowing $900 million on a new private prison (which the assessors didn't even personally visit before advising their closures), why are we blowing $900 million on a new private prison when after taking into account the current budgeted prison closures, there will still be 2992 spare beds?

Why build a new prison with just under 1000 beds when we have almost 3000 spare beds? Why are we building empty prisons when our schools and hospitals and dole queues are full?

And let someone please ask the question in the media, how exactly this $65 million will reduce 600 prisoners by 2017 when the Justice Department last bloody September was forecasting 487 fewer prisoners by then. So this additional $65 million will only reduce 113 prisoners when the 487 that were already predicted not to re-enter Prison are taken into account. Seriously, why isn't someone in the media pointing this out? It's page 34 from their own report! They had already predicted 487 fewer prisoners last year, meaning this $65 million to reduce offending for the remaining 113 prisoners is bullshit!

It's not just the 2 billion dollars plus in tax cuts to the rich that is economic vandalism by this Government, it's also the vast misuse of public funds for idealogical masturbation.



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