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First World Countries sole reliance on Prison Incarceration to Punish and Deter in the pursuit of Law and Order has been the greatest Societal Blunder of the 20th Century - both in Dollars Wasted and Results Unachieved

On a scale of between 1 and 10 for Cost-Effective Expenditure of the Public Purse, Prison Incarceration scores a 2 at most, because only some shorter Sentence inmates have benefited from Rehabilitation Programmes, particularly those with drug related issues

"The main reason for the abolition of the death penalty is the squeamishness of politicians, who enjoy office but do not like all the duties which power loads on to their (often rather narrow) shoulders.  Far easier for them to leave the matter to some trembling constable with a gun in a dark street, who can be disavowed if it all goes wrong later."  Peter Hitchens, England - 29 April 2013

1.    For 97% of the history of Homo sapiens, prisons were merely holding tanks until Capital Punishment or Corporal Punishment was inflicted

Ashley Rubin's paper (University of Hawaii) "Prisons and jails are coronavirus epicenters – they were once designed to prevent disease outbreaks" (April 2020) explains that confining convicted criminals to tiny steel cages as a Punishment and Deterrent is a very recent Sentence during the history of Homo sapiens.  Ms. Rubin is a Professor of Sociology and an Interdisciplinary Scholar specializing in Penal History.  Below are pertinent extracts from her very recent paper:   

"The first U.S. prisons emerged in reaction to the overcrowded, violent, disease-infested jails of the colonial era.

Prisons as we understand them today – places of long-term confinement as a punishment for crime – are relatively new developments. In the U.S. they came about in the 1780s and 1790s, after the American Revolution.

Previously, American colonies under British control relied on execution and corporal punishments.

Jails in America and England during that period were not themselves places of punishment. They were just holding tanks...... Accused criminals were jailed while awaiting trial, and convicted criminals were jailed while awaiting punishment or until they paid their court fines.

2.    Many politicians in the USA and Canada have recently concluded that warehousing people in prison is costly and unsustainable

A Professor in Clinical and Forensic Psychology in Vancouver, Canada and an Associate Professor in University of Massachusetts Medical School jointly wrote "Prisons are not the answer to preventing crime in the U.S." that was published in The Conversation on 27 Oct 2019.  Below are extracts:

".............locking people up is a waste of taxpayer dollars that may do more harm than good."

"The U.S. incarcerates more people than any other place in the world. However, many politicians have recently concluded that warehousing people in prison is costly and unsustainable.

1. Prisons cost a lot

Prisons are expensive to operate. In the U.S., the total state expenditure on prisons is at least US$81 billion. In Canada, taxpayers pay an average of $114,000 a year per prisoner. It’s cheaper and more effective to provide treatment than it is to put someone behind bars.

2. Locking people up doesn’t make us safer

Research shows that putting people behind bars does not reduce reoffending, and some studies show it can make matters worse. From working in prisons, we have seen this firsthand; prisons can be schools for crime. If you take a teenager who’s never gotten in trouble before and stuff them in a confined space with people who are already entrenched in crime, they won’t necessarily turn into a good law-abiding citizen."

3.    In earlier times Homo sapiens Governing Forefathers focused on Deterring serious criminal behaviour by 'public executions' that instilled a frightening warning  


Jesus of Nazareth was executed by inflicting vicious, protracted torture to send out a patent message to the locals not to similarly challenge the Roman imposed Jewish government in Jerusalem.  Joan of Arc was burnt at a stake.  Former King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were executed with the guillotine in 1793 at the outset of the French Revolution.  Swift, frightening and cruel punishment in the public forum conveyed a cogent Deterrent to others not to similar transgress.



Early Capital Punishment practices - globally chronicles how Rulers maintained law and order when squillions of tiny steel cages were not a cost-effective Deterrent.  Now in 2020, tiny steel cages are no longer an option to maintain law and order by warehousing the problem onto others down the line:

*         over 97% of the 108b Homo sapiens have lived under both during the 125,000 years circa of occupancy of 'terra firma';

*         even in the last 2,000 years chieftains, rulers, sovereigns, monarchs, warlords et al practiced the most barbaric executions to send out the message "don't challenge our authority"; and

*         the majority of the current 7.6b circa human population today live under both forms of frightening Punishment  (China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, parts of the United States, Pakistan, Somalia, Belarus, Yemen, Afghanistan, Botswana, Libya, Guyana, Uganda, Bangladesh, Sudan, Nigeria, Taiwan, India, Russia, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, the Arab States, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei 'et al')

4.    Recidivism rates on its Pat Malone evidences the folly of Punishing and Deterring by confining squillions of convicted felons to tiny steel cages, because Jail is the University of Crime

Recidivism among prisoners is the rate that released prisoners return to prison.  Across Australia, 46.4% of prisoners released during 2016-17 returned to prison within two years (to 2018-19)Patently for many a Sentence of imprisonment is not a DeterrentRather for a not insignificant cohort of the prison population that become institutionalised, an attraction to criminal behaviour is a return to a warm bed, three meals a day and some living structure.

5.    Prison costs

Below are extracts from Material Public Purse Prison Costs:

Productivity Commission report titled Section 8 'Corrective services' noted that in 2017-18 net operating expenditure on Corrective Services (prisons) across Australia, including depreciation, was $4.416 billion - a real increase of 35% from five years earlier in 2012-13 

"Table 8A.8 from Report on Government Services 2020 - Part C, Section 8 'Corrective services' notes that as at 30 June 2019 Total Net Operating and Capital Expenditure Costs had slightly increased (from June 2015 of $300.88) to $310.32 per inmate per day or $113,267 per inmate p.a."

Below is an extract from Annual Administrative Cost of Australian Maximum Security Prisons - $150,000 p.a. in 2019

After reading the following articles, casual empiricism suggests that the ave Administration Cost per annum for a prisoner in a Maximum Security Prison such as Goulburn's Supermax which houses a lot of Muslim jihadists extremists or Lara Barwon Prison, Victoria is $150,000 p.a. in 2019:

To the SuperMax - THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN - April 2017  -  "A special unit in this prison houses Australia’s most dangerous extremists. We gain rare access and discover a ticking time bomb"

Australia's jail population hits record high after 20-year surge  – The Guardian - 11 Sep 2017

Australia spending more on prisons, policing than other comparable countries: report – ABC News 

The expensive problem with our prisons: Why spending more doesn't make us feel safer – ABC News - Aug 2017

Prison expansion for Victoria as more get locked up - The Age - 25 Jan 2018

Below is an extract from Capital Expenditure Cost Of Building New or Modify/Extending Existing Prisons:

$700m maximum security prison planned for Lara, Victoria - The Age (24 Apr 2018) evidences that the capital expenditure cost of providing maximum security prisons is at least $25,000 per inmate per annum based on $1 million dollars per prisoner to build the planned new Lara Prison divide by a 40 years life of the prison, before a major refit:

"A new maximum security men’s prison with 700 beds will be built in Lara, at a cost of almost $700 million, as Victoria’s prison population grows to record levels.
The Andrews government will commit $689.5 million in next week’s state budget – almost $1 million per prisoner – to build the jail, which it says will open in 2022."

6.    What the experts think

Recognised Punishment Historians at the coal face, and down in the bear pit understand what 'works' and what 'does not work' in the Australian prison system.  Pity is that none of the Recognised Punishment Historians have recommended a return to the Punishments  Sentenced in the final 30 years of Judicial Corporal Punishment for Adults in Australia until the mid-1940s - still Sentenced in three adjacent Commonwealth of Nations Countries in South East Asia - Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei - Singapore: Judicial and prison caning that each have significantly lower crime rates than Australia.