Every year at our annual conference, a group of people end up at the conference bar imagining how good it would be if there was a national network that links up everyone for the rest of the year. A small group of people have been working on this for the past 3 years, but to make it work, we need your support now.
Are you interested in taking on a volunteer role for your state or territory as the After Prison network local representative? We’re looking for people to volunteer as representatives for NSW, SA, WA, Queensland and the NT.
Professor Lorana Bartels is representing the ACT while Grant Herring from JusTas has accepted the role of representing Tasmania.
Here’s what the role involves:
Represent your state or territory in quarterly national network teleconferences and update State/territory network with outcomes of the meetings.
Act or delegate a person to act as the state/territory contact person on the network website here.
Retain a list of current email contacts of local members.
Is this something that you might have interest/capacity in taking on or know of someone who might consider sharing or taking on the role with you?
This idea of re-thinking criminal justice appears to be catching on and may yet revive some of the reformist zeal in the federation. Some state governments are showing promising signs that they will take steps to reverse recent trends. Next month the Queensland Productivity Commission will deliver its final report to the government from its 12-month inquiry into imprisonment and recidivism, following a draft report that suggested 18 improvements to the current system. In Victoria, the Corrections Minister has signalled a review of the Corrections Act to address increasing imprisonment and recidivism.
There is much more to be done, but the economic numbers alone suggest that the case for substantial reform is compelling across the federation.
Today’s post is an briefing from Jarrod Ball from CEDA on the current economic costs of imprisonment in Australia:
The costs of imprisonment can be thought of in terms of the direct cost to government budget and the indirect costs to the economy.
The annual costs of prisons in Australia reached over $4.6 billion in 2017-18, equating to $302 per prisoner per day.
While it has received scant attention in the analysis of state budgets, there has been a significant increase in the operating costs of prisons in recent years as rates of imprisonment increase.
In the five years to 2017-18, the operating costs of prisons increased in real terms at an annual rate of 6.7 per cent. This is greater than the rates of growth in expenditure on General Practitioners (3.7 per cent) and early childhood education (5.1 per cent) over the same period.i This rate of growth is also significantly greater than expenditure growth in other parts of the justice system including police and courts.ii
If current trends continue, significant new investment will be required. The Queensland Productivity Commission estimates that in Queensland alone, $5.2 to $6.5 billion in new investment will be required for prison capacity to meet demand in 2025.iii
The growing budgetary costs resulting from
increased imprisonment deserve greater scrutiny at a time when state and
territory budgets are being squeezed by increasing demand for services like
health, while tax bases come under pressure from subdued economic growth.
In this environment, it is increasingly
important that state and territory governments are achieving better outcomes
from their scarce resources. Despite increased rates of imprisonment and
associated expenditure, reincarceration rates are high – at least half of all
prisoners in 2017- 18 had been imprisoned as adults previously.iv
Therefore increased imprisonment and the resulting expenditure has not produced
better rehabilitation outcomes.
While the indirect costs of imprisonment are
less easily quantified, the lost potential for the economy is substantial.
In 2015, a survey by the Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that over a third of prisoners were in
employment in the 30 days before imprisonment, with another third either
seeking employment or studying.v Research undertaken in Victoria
found that average lost productivity for each prisoner there was over $16,000.vi
The impacts on the economy from imprisonment
extend further, with costs incurred through deteriorating physical and mental
health of prisoners, and reduced welfare for their families including
increasing resort to crisis and income support. The Queensland Productivity
Commission has recently estimated that indirect costs for each prisoner in
Queensland are at least $40,000 a year.vii
Last week, we got together at the Reintegration Puzzle Conference for a free workshop to talk about our recent world café style conversations around Australia. These were events in Perth, Brisbane Geelong, Sydney and Melbourne earlier in the year where we worked together to develop solutions to reduce the imprisonment rate and the rate at which people return to prison in Australia.
At the workshop, we had a group discussion of the major themes associated with each of the two questions that have been posed at the events. These questions focused on changes that are needed both inside and outside prison to enable people to have better outcomes when they return to community.
While we are still in the process of reviewing all of our notes from all of our events, we presented our draft themes for the workshop. In the presentation, we noted that in formulating these preliminary themes, there was some variation in the emphasis placed on various themes across event locations and a large number of sub-themes associated with each of the major themes.
Here are the draft themes:
How could prison function better toward release?
Reform Prison Culture and Service Provision
Facilitate Service Linkage and Throughcare
Employ a Trauma-based Approach to Therapeutic Care
Engage in Stigma Reduction
What conditions are needed in the community for support?
Facilitate Knowledge and Skills
De-stigmatisation and Inclusion
Throughcare Training and Services
Advocacy and Leadership
Acknowledge Complex Disadvantage
Next up is completing the review, publishing our findings and advocating for those changes through our newly formed After Prison Network.
You can support us by:
following the Network on this website so that you stay connected with us and are partners with us in change.
sharing this blog and website with your networks and on social media.