By Amber Wilson, The Mercury, 26 April 2021
TASMANIA has the highest per-capita prison costs in the nation, with each prisoner costing more than $122,000 a year, a new report reveals.
The Justice Reform Initiative report, to be released on Monday, also states the number of people in Tasmanian prisons has risen by nearly 40 per cent over the past decade, and that 58 per cent of young people in the state return to prison less than a year after being released.
The initiative was set up last year to encourage governments to end their “dangerously high reliance on jails”, with Tasmanian patrons including former premier Lara Giddings, prisoners’ advocate Greg Barns SC and former Legislative Council president Jim Wilkinson.
“A justice system so heavily focused on being ‘tough on crime’ rather than smart on crime is a sad throwback to the convict era,” initiative chair Robert Tickner said.
“There are far too many people in our prisons who shouldn’t be there – people with mental health issues and disability, women who are victims of domestic violence, young people who have grown up in appalling circumstances of neglect and abuse.”
The initiative has urged Tasmanian politicians to commit to reforming Tasmania’s “archaic” criminal justice system, and claims building a new prison “will be a step in the wrong direction at a cost of millions to taxpayers”.