Social Reinvestment WA

Our Vision

A Holistic, Evidence Based Approach.

 

Social Reinvestment is a holistic and evidence based approach to improving community safety, the wellbeing of families and individuals, and reducing the number of people we send to prison.

Social Reinvestment is a transformative approach. The evidence is clear that a significant number of people who offend come from, and return to, a small number of communities or postcodes. By investing our resources in addressing the root causes of offending, we can all benefit.

Social Reinvestment responds to the evidence that prisons are not effective or efficient deterrents, and do not properly rehabilitate. Of the people who have completed a prison sentence, we will send approximately 40 percent back within two years. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this reality is even worse, with the recidivism rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men being 70 percent, and 55 percent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Social Reinvestment responds to the evidence that prisons are not effective or efficient deterrents, and do not properly rehabilitate. Of the people who have completed a prison sentence, we will send approximately 40 percent back within two years.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this reality is even worse, with the recidivism rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men being 70 percent, and 55 percent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The majority of people who we send to prison will eventually return to the community, so strategies other than imprisonment are needed. We need to identify, and work together to solve the social and economic causes of crime, rather than just reacting to criminal behaviour.

 
 

There is a solution

Prison and the Budget Bottom Line.

Treasury has costed our state debt as a deficit of $3 billion, projected to balloon to $41 billion by the end of the decade. WA is in a dire financial situation. Treasury has recently explained that government revenue will be far less than previously expected; the state deficit is likely to be $1.1 billion by 2019-2020; and state debt is projected to reach $42 billion by 2020.

In March 2017, there were 6,776 adults in our prison system at a cost of approximately $307 a day for each prisoner and this number continues to rise. From March 2016 until March 2017 the adult prisoner population increased by 719 (an increase of 12%). In the five-year period from March 2012 to March 2017 the number of adult prisoners in Western Australian prisons increased by 1,812 (an increase of 36%). The number of prisoners has almost doubled in the last decade. According to OICS in 2016, the current model suggests facilities are already housing prisoners at a rate of 148% of maximum operating capacity.

Our prison system costs an estimated $759, 284, 680 every year. Any new prison will cost at least $600 million to build. Furthermore, the juvenile detention system costs $48, 469, 801 each year (cost per detainee is $991 per day and as at March 2017 there were 134 juveniles in detention). WA simply cannot afford our current justice system. The ever-increasing cost of prison growth is unsustainable.

But there is a solution.

 
 

What happened?

Texas.

Texas once earned its reputation as a tough-on-crime state through harsh sentences; abusive and, sometimes, deadly prison conditions; proud use of the death penalty; and a direct legacy of slavery (Perkinson, 2010). Between 1968 and 1978, the Texas state population grew by 19%, but the prison population increased by 101%, reaching 22, 439 in 1978. All told, between 1980 and 2004, Texas built 94 state prisons and increased the number of people it incarcerated by 566% (Perkinson, 2010). The Texas corrections budget increased from $600 million in 1985 to $2.4 billion in 2005 (ACLU, 2007), as the number of people the State incarcerated climbed to 159, 255 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005). IN 1997, the House Research Organization stated that growth in incarceration was caused by "a burgeoning state population; more punitive policies toward offenders, especially for violent crimes; tighter restrictions on parole, including longer minimum periods behind bars before parole eligibility and tougher policies for granting time off sentences for good conduct; and a stepped-up 'war on drugs'.

As incarceration increased in Texas, overcrowding of prisons and budget shortfalls were experienced. After a deep analysis and projection, Texas decided to embark on a journey of Justice Re-Investment aiming at cutting down crime and saving money.  By collaborating with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, state officials developed plans to address the crisis. Consequently, a budget that proposed expansion of community strengthening, diversion, and greater rehabilitative treatment in the prisons and parole systems was adopted by the legislature. The Governor approved the budget, which translated into a net saving of $443.9 million. Justice reinvestment was significantly cheaper than building more prison facilities. Justice Reinvestment strategies work.

We have programs here in WA, that are already proven to work.

The Fairbridge Bindjareb Project provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody with mining industry training and 'real guaranteed jobs'. It also includes an 'intensive lifestyle development program' and focuses on reconnection to and respect of Aboriginal culture. A preliminary review found overwhelmingly positive outcomes including that only 18% of participants returned to prison within two years of being released (and only 4% for new offences), compared to 40% for the general prison population recidivism rates. Furthermore, 73% of participants had successfully gained and retained full time employment at the time of review, (7 months post conclusion of the program.) An independent analysis suggests the cost savings to government for the first five intakes of the project is approximately $2.9 million (Deloitte Access Economics, 2016).

An evidence based approach

Prevention and Rehabilitation Create Long Term Gains.

Social Reinvestment responds to the evidence that prisons are not effective or efficient deterrents and do not properly rehabilitate. Of the people who have completed a prison sentence, we will send approximately 40 percent back withing two years. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the position is even worse, with the recidivism rate for Aboriginal men being 70 percent, and 55 percent for Aboriginal women. The overwhelming majority of people who we send to prison will eventually return to the community, so strategies other than imprisonment are needed. We need to identify, and work together to solve the social and economic causes of crime, rather than just reacting to criminal behaviour.

a 2017 report by PWC Consulting in partnership with Change the Record and Richmond Football Club found that closing the gap on Aboriginal Incarceration will save almost $19 billion dollars nationally by 2040.

Under s Social Reinvestment approach, the enormous resources currently wasted on a failing prison system are freed up to be spent on improving the wellbeing of people, families, and communities. Social Reinvestment strategies work to improve opportunities, health, and education in at risk communities, and allow people to rebuild their lives after their sentence, so they can contribute to their community.

 
 

We have the chance to change

Right Now We Have A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity.

20 years ago the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody found that underlying issues behind the over-representation of the Aboriginal men, women and juveniles in the justice system included unemployment, poverty, the inability to pay fines, poor health (particularly mental health), lack of education, alcoholism and drug addiction, race discrimination, homelessness, as well as police practices, prison procedures and judicial processes. RCIADIC recognised that only through addressing the underlying causes for high representation, would there be any long term reduction in the levels of over-representation.

We know that crime is caused by a multitude of disadvantages, and we cannot combat them independently. Poor education outcomes caused by hearing impairment has been linked to criminal behaviour; for example, an investigation of 44 Aboriginal prisoners in Darwin found that more than 90% had a significant hearing loss (Burns & Thomson, 2013).

"Noah, an Aboriginal child in a remote community, is born with ear disease. When he starts school, he can't properly hear the teacher's instructions, so he falls behind in work. He is afraid to speak up and ask for help. He starts to feel stupid, and isolated from his peers. As he gets older and falls further and further behind with no hearing aid, he is held back a class in Year 8. Not hearing instructions or information properly makes Noah bored in class, his teachers and classmates think he is a troublemaker and very disruptive. Noah starts skipping school, because 'what's the point anyway?' Despite attending no more than half of Year 9. Noah leaves school in Year 10. With little education, and few job prospects, he starts breaking into houses with a few older boys to make some cash to get by. He is eventually caught and is sent to a juvenile detention facility."

We cannot work in silos. Fixing justice issues requires whole-of-government solutions.

A SOCIAL REINVESTMENT FRAMEWORK

Three Pillars

We Need To Work For Healthy Families

We know that disadvantage is one of the main drivers of contact with the justice system, for both victims and offenders. By supporting families and addressing disadvantage, we can improve community safety and well-being.

The well-being of individuals, families and communities must be at the centre of an effective approach to law and justice issues in Western Australia. We know that disadvantage is one of the main drivers of contact with the justice system, for victims and offenders. By supporting families and addressing disadvantage we can improve community safety and well-being.

We Need To Practice Smart Justice

Our current approach is failing all Western Australians. It is economically and socially costly, outdated and flawed. The evidence shows that there is a smarter way.

Other states and countries have achieved a dramatic decrease in crime and in the amount of people being sent to prison by adopting a new approach. Instead of choosing to spend more and more of our money on cramming people into prisons, we too can become smarter. If we redirect investment into addressing local issues that lead to crime we will get results.

 

We Need To Create Safe Communities

Social Reinvestment is a win-win. The current 'tough on crime' approach is failing to make communities safer. By getting smarter and focusing on supporting families and communities, and supporting members of our community who are returning from prison, we will increase community safety.

 
 

Get involved

What Can You Do?

Social Reinvestment solutions to tackling the crisis of Aboriginal overrepresentation in prison and in child protection, require a holistic approach. We all need to work together to close the gap in the justice and child protection sectors.

We believe in your role as member of WA's community you can be key in making a difference in this area. Your work can change the record on Aboriginal incarceration, and change the story for future generations to come.

Social Reinvestment WA has identified priorities for reform by undertaking extensive research; analysing available data; and by drawing on our members' professional expertise and experience of working within the justice system, in the community sector, and with Aboriginal people. we believe a whole system approach is needed to address the underlying causes of offending. The elements of implementing the framework, in short, are: 

  1. Supporting families early to address the underlying issues that can lead to crime;
  2. Diverting people who are in trouble with the law into support programs that will stop them from further offending;
  3. Assisting people who are imprisoned or transitioning out of prison to reintegrate into the community;
  4. Reforming laws that unfairly target minority groups;
  5. Prioritising cultural, social, and emotional well-being in all responses.

We want to talk to you about the concrete building blocks of Social Reinvestment, the framework, the policies. And how you can lay the foundations of Healthy Families, Smart Justice and Safe Communities in your work.