Justice Calculator Pushes for Reinvestment
10 March 2016 at 10:17 am
A new Not for Profit online calculator has been developed to provide the NSW public with data on what’s happening in their local communities including the daily cost of supporting prisoners from their communities.
The justice reinvestment calculator sources data describing local health, employment, income, and housing rates.
It also shows the number of a community’s local people that are going to prison, and how much it is costing to send them there.
For instance, in one regional community in NSW highlighted by the JR Calculator there are 24 local residents in prison, costing the NSW taxpayer over $5,000 per day.
Chair of Just Reinvest NSW and Managing Solicitor at Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Sarah Hopkins said the information raises question about whether locking up someone in prison is money spent wisely?
“$5,000 could be better spent on building capacity and services in local communities,” Hopkins said.
“Just Reinvest NSW developed the JR Calculator to assist people to understand what is happening in their local areas.
“Imagine if that $5,000 every day was injected into making a local community a safer place to be, with activities for kids, with improved health services and educational facilities, with more counsellors and rehabilitation services.
“We agree that prison is necessary for some people, but we also believe that preventative measures, such as investing that $5000 per day into that local community could prevent the crime from happening in the first place.”
She said some young people are getting into trouble simply because of a lack of appropriate services available in their towns.
“We are advocating for justice reinvestment in NSW. It is a concept we’re trialling in Bourke – we are looking at the sort of data you will find on the JR Calculator, but at a deeper level,” she said.
“We mine the local community for data to work out exactly what’s happening in a local area, and then we will build a business case to demonstrate the savings achieved through a justice reinvestment approach.
“Those savings can then be reinvested to help young people into appropriate programs, services and schools – and to keep them away from the criminal justice system.”
She said it was time for communities to tell the NSW Government that there is a better way to spend public funds.
“We hope the NSW public finds this a useful tool for considering whether justice reinvestment would benefit their local communities,” she said.
The JR Calculator was developed with support from the former Australian National Council on Drugs.