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Prisons are not good economics

QCOSS President Karyn Wa
The Queensland Council of Social Service says the proposed three to four thousand bed prison in Gatton does not make economic sense. “It is blatantly clear that imprisoning a person is much more expensive than working to prevent people committing crime and being put in jail,” says QCOSS Director Jill Lang.

“We believe spending well over $2billion for a large prison facility does not make economic sense. The recurrent costs will be $275m per annum. QCOSS is arguing for State Government expenditure of a mere $500m per annum on a comprehensive range of services to support families, individuals and communities to prevent people ending up in prisons and the juvenile justice system.

“It appears the state government is investing in prisons in response to the projected 90% increase in prison populations over the next ten years. It should be responding to this projection by doing more to stop the growth.

QCOSS President Karyn Walsh believes more preventative measures are needed. “There is a huge cost associated with tail-end crisis responses compared to prevention and early intervention investment,” says Karyn. “We shouldn’t be planning to fill a prison with three to four thousand beds. We should be planning to prevent the level of social breakdown that results in crimes and imprisonment.”

QCOSS has released Smart State, Fair State. It is a submission to state government for next year’s budget. The submission outlines the greater cost involved with putting someone in jail compared with the cost involved with prevention and early intervention programs. It also focuses on justice, incarceration and preventing violence.

Other social issues that are part of the submission include a comprehensive plan to end poverty in Queensland, work, education, disability services, health and mental health, rural and regional areas, the eldery, gambling, utilities, climate change and strengthening the community sector.

For over 50 years QCOSS has strived to promote social justice through working to eliminate inequality and disadvantage. The Queensland Council of Social Service represents 700 organisations and individuals throughout the state.

Photo : QCOSS President Karyn Wa