Yesterday Kim Workman made some estimates regarding the cost of the 'three strikes' policy. He claims that if it had been implemented in 1980 14,000 more people would now be in prison and that would have cost the taxpayer an extra $7.5 billion.
Completely overlooked is that when many prisoners are out in the community they are still costing the taxpayer through the following;
Social security benefits - using Mr Workman's 25 year time frame at today's money, around 3,000 realeased prisoners each year go on a benefit. At a cost of around $20,000 each that produces $1.5 billion.
Fathering more welfare dependents (and potential criminals) - let's assume each of the 14,000 produces just one child who is dependent on the taxpayer for 18 years. I will use $150 per week to cover their upkeep, health and education. That produces almost $2 billion.
Methadone programmes - one of the main aims of the methadone programme is to keep people out of prison. It costs around $30 million or $750 million over 25 years.
Then other things I am not equipped to put an estimate on;
Creating more insurance claims and hence, increased premiums.
The victims of their crime's loss of productivity and in many case loss of life costs taxpayers through the welfare and health systems.
I stress my counter-costings are not scientific or conclusive but they do put Mr Workman's estimate into some sort of perspective.
He also says;
If this legislation was introduced 25 years ago, we would now be faced with an influx of ex-prisoners being released into law abiding communities, each of whom will have served around 25 years in prison, and hopelessly institutionalised. They will emerge, scared, violent, without any ability to cope with an ever-changing world, and most likely without friends or adequate support. That would in turn have a significant impact on public safety and the crime rate.
By the time anyome is released from a three strike progression they are likely to be middle-aged to old. This is the group from which the least violent crime hails.
I guess the bottom line for me is protecting innocent people. My main reservation now is will the three strikes policy actually make criminals more dangerous when they are free but approaching their final strike?
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