Thursday, July 01, 2010

Over Corrections

The NZ Herald highlights a speech by Finance Minister Bill English. I don't care about the house price fixation. Yeah, it's a bubble, but the government isn't going to hose that down with a capital gains tax so nothing's going to change there. No, the bit that interested me was about the size of the Corrections Department:
The job market was unfavourably skewed away from the export sector toward government, led by a rapidly expanding prison system set to soon make Corrections the government's biggest department, said English.
My bold there. Prisons will overtake health, education and welfare as the largest government department soon. Meantime over in the UK, the Con Dem coalition is looking to trim the deficit with a radical reform of the prison sector. While we're racking and stacking prisoners in double-bunks and container cells, the Brits are looking at purging their prisons of inmates, especially those on short sentences:
Keeping a prisoner in jail costs an average £38,000 - more than sending a boy to Eton - but has too often proved "a costly and ineffectual approach that fails to turn criminals into law-abiding citizens", Mr Clarke said. In the worst prisons, jail sentences do no more than produce "tougher criminals" and introduce petty offenders to hardened felons.
It costs about NZ$100,000 per prisoner year here. That's still more expensive than most NZ private schools. The Law & Order Bash might rake in the election ballots, but there must be a cheaper way to buy votes.