Labour seeks inquiry into repeat offending

Labour wants a parliamentary inquiry into repeat criminal offending, and what can be done to reduce it.

Labour Party courts spokesman Rick Barker wrote to law and order select committee chairwoman Sandra Goudie asking for the inquiry.

"Recidivism has significant consequences for the victims of crime, and significant financial costs for the country," Mr Barker said.

The drivers behind recidivism and what could be done to reduce the current high rate should be looked at, he said.

"There are no signs of fresh ideas or initiatives. It is time to think again on how we deal with the reintegration of prisoners into the community, as any improvements will bring big benefits, the most important being the impact on individuals."

Apart from social benefits, savings could be made in court, police and prison costs.

"The Parliamentary Library has calculated for me that savings could be about $44 million per annum. If we can reduce the rate of recidivism so that just one in five prisoners were back into prison within 12 months, this would reduce the prison population by 420 a year based on 6000 prisoners being released each year.

"Such a reduction could see three of our smaller prisons closed if everything else stood still, or mean deferring building another prison."

Mr Barker said the Corrections Department spent $57.2m per annum on reintegration.

"Our rate of recidivism is 57 percent after two years, an appalling figure... This can't be simply accepted as inevitable, but we can't just try to muddle through. We need fresh ideas and new initiatives or the statistics will get worse."

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