Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daft and dangerous

A report claims that two thirds of convicts serving prison sentences of less than one year go on to re offend costing the economy some £10 billion every year.

This is the equivalent of £400 for every household in Britain. As usual, this is the "evidence" that the hand-wringing liberals use to justify community "punishments" as, they claim, this is proof that prison doesn't work.

However, the same story in the Telegraph then reports .....

Around 60,000 offenders a year are jailed for less than 12 months – mostly for theft and violent crime - costing £286million a year to keep them in prison, the NAO said.

So, if you release them it costs the economy £10 billion - but it costs £256 million to keep them locked up. Maths isn't my strong point, but that works out at less than 1% of the cost of releasing them doesn't it? When it comes to value for money, keeping criminals locked up certainly works well compared to letting them out.

It's also worth remembering that when Labour came to power - promising to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime - re offending rates for released convicts were much lower than they are now at a little under 60%. However, even with a re offending rate of two thirds prison compares well to some other forms of punishment.

More than 90% of persistent young criminals on the community punishment programme re-offended within two years, an Oxford University study suggests.

And this is the sort of thing they claim is "better". Let's just sum up the liberal position here ...

Releasing criminals from prison costs £10,000,000,000
Keeping them locked up costs £256,000,000.
Re offending rates for those punished with jail is 67%.
Re offending rates for those punished with community punishments is 90%.

... and their conclusion is that jail doesn't work? They are not just daft - they are dangerous. My guess is that crime would fall considerably if we locked up all liberal progressives and threw away the key.


Richard Matthews said...

Good spot, Stan. It certainly drives a coach and horses through the 'Prison is too expensive / prison doesn't work' argument.

Anonymous said...

I really don't case if prison 'works' based on some psuedo-intellectual prog-con argument.

Prison, to me, 'works' if it keeps criminals off the streets.....