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Three Strikes Proposal Would Cost Billions

Three Strikes Proposal Would Cost $3.5 - $5.5 billion

ACT's proposal to sentence offenders to 25 years after a third violent offence, is unaffordable, said Kim Workman, Director, Rethinking Crime and Punishment. "It would cost between $3.5 - $4.5 billion"

"During the election campaign, ACT spokeperson David Garrett said they would spend up to $1 billion to implement the policy. In fact, it would cost between $3 - $4 billion to implement, and a further ongoing cost of $56 - 75 million annual operational costs.

The Department of Corrections have 15,000 offenders with three or more convictions for violence, currently on their books. At least half of those are not currently in prison. Over a very short space of time, we would
end up with between 7,000 and 10,000 more offenders serving a prison sentence.

The National Party has promised to build one more prison for 572 prisoners at a cost of $314m, plus annual operating costs of $43m. On that basis, the increase in prison beds to accommodate the three strikes offenders, would cost between $3.8 and $5.5 billion. with annual operating costs between $52 and $75 million. That would be in addition to any increases arising from National's own policies. Even if they housed prisoners in containers, it is still not a viable proposition.

I have asked the Department of Corrections to check my figures. But if those figures are correct, it would be fiscally irresponsible to agree to the three strikes' proposal as part of a coalition deal.

We need to take a lesson from the United States. Eight States are trying to exit from three strikes legislation, or modify it. Firstly, they can no longer afford it. Secondly, they can't find people willing to staff prisons that are inhumane and overcrowded.

Most thinking New Zealanders would prefer to see their dollars invested in some of National's positive initiatives, - the 'Fresh Start' programme for young offenders, and community based treatment for mentally ill and addicted offenders would be a great place to start.

ENDS


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