Logic 101: Prisons Protect Families from Becoming Victims

In an incredibly naive statement by a senior politician, Bill English has said that prisons are a “moral and fiscal failure” and there are other ways of dealing with criminals and potential criminals.

What are those ways? More home detention for violent criminals who commit property and other offences while on home detention? More counselling for offenders who don’t want to change? More community service which isn’t completed? More fines which aren’t paid?

1 in 4 offenders sentenced to home detention sneak off in breach of their conditions.
Over half of the criminals placed on home detention in 2007 had convictions for sex crimes, violence, and drug offences
Between 1993 and 2005, approximately 130,000 criminals offended whilst on bail (which of course makes a mockery of statements that ‘prisons create criminals’. They’re in prison because they are criminals!!)
80% of young people given community sentences of supervision reoffended (which once again makes a mockery of the ‘prison creates criminals’.

But ultimately, countries that lock up more offenders have demonstrably lower crime rates

It ain’t rocket science. But it obviously is for the National party – or at least some of their senior politicians. Of course we should do everything we can to prevent people ‘graduating’ to prison but prison is for people who choose crime.

Bill English says prisons cost too much. But what is the opportunity cost i.e. the alternative cost of not protecting families from offenders?

In Badlands just released by David Fraser, it shows clear evidence that the cost to taxpayers of not jailing offenders exceeds $300,000 p.a. in insurance premiums and losses, police callouts and investigative time, health costs and lost wages, uninsured property losses, and personal impact on victims.

Here’s a simple principle – if a repeat offender is in jail, they can’t commit crimes. The public is protected. Perhaps if politicians understood this, we could get rid of our car alarms, house burglar alarms, personal protection alarms, gates around schools, grills covering our shops, umpteen keys on our key ring, etc etc.

We need to send Bill English a copy of Badlands

You can get your copy HERE . Read the facts for yourself and see the folly of Mr English’s statement.


7 comments for “Logic 101: Prisons Protect Families from Becoming Victims

  1. jonno1
    23 May 2011 at 1:26 am

    Totally agree Bob. I’m halfway through Badlands (it takes a bit of concentration!) and was gobsmacked to hear Bill English’s comment on Q&A. I wonder if there’s a list somewhere of criminals with, say, 10 or more convictions, and if so how many might be on that list. I realise that conviction rate is a poor measure of crime rate, but at least it’s something. My underlying question is what percentage of the population is predisposed to crime, and what would happen to the crime rate (over time) if those people were properly dealt with by the justice system?

  2. Bob
    23 May 2011 at 1:36 am

    You’re right John. Conviction rate is not the crime rate

    Convicton merely represents ‘caught, prosecuted, and convicted’!!!!!!!

    There’s a few variables there

  3. Helen Johnstone
    23 May 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Interesting to hear a Salvation Army captain saying (on Rhema this morning) that the longer criminals are in prison the more they are likely to learn more about offending. He did also say that they needed to be in employment or training which I totally agree with. Idle hands have more time to get into trouble. However he suggested that many studies overseas show longer incareration does not work.

  4. Bob
    23 May 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Would love to see those studies. There’s plenty of evidence that strong deterrents such as prison lowers the crime rate. Read “Badlands” and judge for yourself!

  5. Massoud
    24 May 2011 at 2:29 am

    Henry Thoreau said: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root.” How true. Far more insightful than the simplistic, spiteful, clarion calls the law and order groupies proclaim from the moral high ground.

    How is it that our incarceration rate is anything but a “moral and fiscal failure?” How else could you describe it? This is not naive reasoning.

    Naive reasoning is to claim, as Bob does,that people are in prison “because they are criminals.” On the contrary, people are in prison due to society. The definition of what constitutes a crime is merely a social construct. A fashion. Today’s crime is tomorrow’s virtue, and vice versa. A small example: slavery,hitting your wife,the age of consent, prostitution,selling alcohol,the drink-drive limit, etc.

    You say ultimately that the “countries that lock up more offenders have demonstrably lower crime rates.”
    Yet how far should one take such logic, Bob? Should we impose Sharia? It is a proven fact that “crime” dropped dramatically under the Taliban. “Crime” was exceedingly low in the former communist regimes.

    Tell me, as our prison population and laws have increased, does anyone feel safer in these last 25 years? Does anyone feel safer in the USA, that paragon of incarceration?

    Philosophically, how can our current scenario of more prisons, tougher sentences, harsher policing,and a meaner society represent anything but a deep-rooted, troubled, nation? Welcome to NZ,the land that has more prisons than tourist attractions!So, law and order worshippers, feel free to hack at the branches whilst the root grows deeper and more malignant.

  6. Bob
    24 May 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Asking for protection for families from crime is not “moral high ground”.

    You say “people are in prison due to society” – did society make them attack the old woman in her home? Take a weapon and rob a bank? Abuse a small defenceless child?

    Yes – crime rates have dropped substantially in the US!

    A society that protects families is not a ‘mean’ society

    Back to the drawing board Massoud

  7. Harry Young
    24 May 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Work in what way, Helen? You are only looking at this from the criminal’s perspective. If he is in prison, he’s not out doing home invasions, so the rest of us are safe.
    Longer incarceration protects us for longer. Locked up for life protects us even better.
    The Sallies belief that god is the judge and we should feel guilty if we do our own judging is misguided hogwash.

Comments are closed.