Queensland Corrective Services figures show almost two-thirds of males and half of female prisoners are repeat offenders

So keeping them in custody much longer would greatly reduce crime

ALMOST two-thirds of male prisoners and half of female prisoners are repeat offenders, prompting concerns of inadequate rehabilitation programs.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman said Queensland Corrective Services figures showed that as of June 30, 2009, 61 per cent of males in prison and 48 per cent of females in prison had previously served a jail term, and the cost per prisoner per year was akin to someone living 12 months in the Hilton Hotel.

"If any other government department had such an appalling record in doing the job, they'd be shut down," Mr O'Gorman told The Courier-Mail's Let the Sun Shine In forum.

"Prison is a total failure ... for those of you who say talking about rehabilitation is a limp-wristed, bleeding heart liberal response, let me make this economic argument - how much money are we spending on the 61 per cent of people coming in and out of prison when it costs $70,000 to $80,000 to keep them in prison?

"The Attorney-General Paul Lucas said the Queensland prisons were already filled to record levels despite steadily decreasing crime rates."

Mr O'Gorman said the money would be better spent on rehabilitation.

Police and Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts said in the past year the average cost to keep a prisoner was $66,000.

"This cost pays for staff, security infrastructure, rehabilitation and training, offender expenses such as food and clothing, utilities and maintenance," he said in a statement.

"Queensland Corrective Services regularly reviews its programs to ensure they are effective. If enhancements are identified, they will be considered."

ACT for Kids research and education executive director Dr Katrina Lines said that more early intervention programs for abused and neglected children were needed.

"We see a direct link in our work with kids who suffer abuse and neglect," she said.

"The goal is to keep them out of detention and out of the criminal courts and help them."

Dr Lines said a test intervention program undertaken in Cairns found that most participants did not reoffend and if they did, the offence was less serious.

Sisters Inside director Debbie Kilroy said 80 per cent of prisoners had mental health issues and many women were released from prison with just a garbage bag with nowhere to go.


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