INDEPENDENT NEWS

Three Strikes will cost $7.5 billion

Published: Mon 23 Feb 2009 10:42 AM
Three Strikes will cost $7.5 billion - initial estimate wrong
Rethinking Crime and Punishment's Director, acknowledged today its estimate of the implementation costs of the 'three strikes' legislation was "well off-beam". Kim Workman, Rethinking's Director originally estimated it would cost between $3.5 and $5.5 billion to implement. He explained, "I have since got further information from the Department of Corrections, which now puts the cost of implementation at around $7.5 billion over 25 years, and an ongoing extra operational cost at $1 billion a year."
"The Department confirmed that there are 16,000 offenders 'on their books' who been convicted of three or more convictions for serious crime since 1980. Only 2000 of those are currently in prison. If "three strikes" had been implemented in 1980, there would be an additional 14,000 offenders currently in prison. The total prison population would today be 22,000, and we would have between 44 and 48 prisons in New Zealand, rather than twenty. "
"On today's pricing, it costs $500,000 a bed to construct new prisons. That comes to an additional cost to the taxpayer of around $7.5 billion over 25 years. Even if the government built prisons below the UN Minimum Standards, and halved that cost it would cost around $3.75 billion dollars. In addition, it costs $75,000 a year to house and feed each inmate. The annual operating costs would increase by just over $1.0 billion a year."
"None of that extra cost takes into account the government's current estimated increases in prison numbers, which without three strikes, has the government building a new prison every two years for the next decade."
"But that's not the scary bit. 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.
The ACT Party will no doubt point out that we have not taken into account the deterrent effect of the "three strikes" legislation. On the USA evidence thus far, there has not been any deterrent effect, and no clear evidence of a positive impact on the crime rate.
ENDS

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