Submission to the inquiry into the value of justice reinvestment

Submission to the inquiry of the Senate Legal Affairs Committee into the value of justice reinvestment approach to criminal justice in Australia

It has become fashionable to speak of justice reinvestment as a good thing. Like
any new term that comes into fashion its ingredients should be analysed carefully. One
needs to be prepared to acknowledge that while the term may be new, it raises issues
that have long been the subject of attention. Crime and its causes are the most obvious
ancillary issues: there is no need for a correctional system if there is no crime. The
concept of Justice reinvestment thus embodies what has been encompassed by the
familiar term of crime prevention. Indeed it should give a fillip to that concept. It would
be a much more efficient deployment of scarce community resources if they could be
deployed on programs reduced crime to the point of making the exercise of criminal
justice unnecessary.
Similarly, consideration of Justice reinvestment demands an audit of the
effectiveness of existing policies in promoting or reducing crime. Indeed this submission
will argue that much public policy in the area of crime and corrections is dysfunctional
and promotes the very social harms that it ostensibly seeks to prevent.