Should we be concerned with the economics of prison?

28 Jul, 2015

Do we do unto others what we do not want for ourselves? I humbly suggest that the real question is: Are we in need of a moral and ethical structure that would enable community wisdom that recognizes the long term effects of punishment? If we are preoccupied with money then ask: are taxpayers getting their money’s worth?

Here are some figures to guide us:

National and International crime rates have reached their lowest point in 30 years. Canadian police services reported a 7% decline in crime since 2006 yet in the past 10 years, the number of men and women who have been incarcerated has increased steadily.

There are 76 federal and 116 provincial prisons facilities in Canada.

Correctional services expenditures totalled almost $8 billion. This represents a 29.9% increase from 2006-07. This figure does not include policing or court costs.

Recidivism rates are between 42% and 62%, depending on who is publishing the study.

78% of the cost is for wages & benefits and 23% for operating costs.

The daily cost of incarceration per inmate is: $337./Fed. and $255/Prov., or annually, $120,000 Fed. and $95.000 Prov. The cost of feeding one inmate is $5.38 per day. 0.24 cents is spent on educational programs.

The cost of alternatives such as probation, bail supervision and community supervision ranges from $5-$25/day.

According to the Office of the Correctional Investigator prisons remain harmful from a public health perspective, negatively impacting the physical and mental health of those detained.

Prisons do succeed at one thing: hiding human suffering.

Jean Marc Bougie – is a citizen involved in kindness and eventually in wisdom.

All sources are from Statistics Canada and the Correctional investigator’s annual reports.

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