It’s pretty bloody late in his tenure to be saying it, but Police Commissioner Howard Broad has joined with every expert in telling politicians that their braindead, populist policy of increasing the number of crimes and ramping up prison sentences has to stop. It’s not a solution to crime, it’s making it worse.
Here’s what Broad had say to the law and order select committee:
“traditional model of policing” had “delivered a wave of criminals in to the system – an absolute wave”. He told reporters prison was for “serious offenders”.
“It’s tempting to use prison as a minor, intermediate sort of sanction.
“But the evidence seems to be that the `university of the prison’ is a fact and it exists and that we should do everything we can to avoid people going down that track.
“One of the worst things that you can do for an emerging young offender is to group them together with other emerging young offenders. The whole idea is actually preventing crime in the first place.”
You know, there are some people who are so dangerous that they need to be locked up for the safety of others. But those people are few and far between. Sending every young, poor kid who commits a crime to jail doesn’t stop them committing crimes, it makes them more likely to offend in the future.
At $100,000 per year per prisoner, this is a hellishly expensive exercise in counter-productivity.
A smart society would instead invest that $100,000 a year into getting young people into work with job creation programmes and on building more liveable communities that don’t facilitate crime.
The stats don’t lie: unemployment is the driving factor behind a hell of a lot of crime – the numbers suggest that if you could eliminate unemployment 20% of crime would go with it. Eliminate poverty in general and I’m sure that number would plunge even further.
Instead, we’re imprisoning exponentially more people at massive cost, and we know it just makes things worse.
Why are we throwing away so much money and so many lives?