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Act prison policy would cost $838 million

Labour
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At $838 million in extra spending, Act's prison policy is one of the most expensive promises made by any party at this election, says Labour justice spokesperson, Phil Goff.

Mr Goff released today the Department of Corrections' estimate of the cost of Act's policy.

"The best estimate by the Department of Corrections is that Mr Prebble's Truth in Sentencing Bill will cost $838 million extra in spending on prisons over three years (see attached estimates).

"This is made up by $427 million in building costs to house an estimated increase of 2744 inmates (a 55% increase) and additional annual operating costs of $137 million.

"It will mean that New Zealand will have by far the highest imprisonment rate, outside of the United States, in the Western world.

"What makes the credibility gap so wide is that Mr Prebble is promising to spend the extra $838 million in just one policy area while also promising to cut tax revenue by billions of dollars.

"What this means is that an Act-National Government would have to slash dramatically spending in the areas of public health and education and superannuation.

"It also means less to spend on early intervention and prevention as well as programmes to tackle the social causes of crime.

"An Act-National Government implementing tax and social spending cuts would hugely increase disparities between rich and poor and create an alienated subclass which would inevitably drive crime rates up.

"The Police Association, which understandably take a hard line against crime, opposes the Bill outright arguing that it will not serve the interests of justice.

"A fraction of the additional expenditure proposed by Mr Prebble for prisons put into policing would be more effective in catching criminals and deterring crime.

"A small percentage of the extra spending, if put into early intervention, parenting and truancy programmes would do far more to prevent crime and make the community safer.

"Mr Prebble's policy is by far the most expensive bid in the law and order auction but will do little to make the community safer," Mr Goff said.


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