Justice reinvestment for people with disability could save millions

Date: 
Thursday 8 August 2013

Casey is in her early-20s and has an intellectual disability. Her contact with the criminal justice system and other institutions has cost over $5.5 million to date. That bill is expected to reach a staggering $12 million by the time Casey turns 27 if she continues on her current trajectory. But a new report released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission shows Casey’s costs could be reduced to $4 million if she had received early intensive support.

The report, People with mental health disorders and the cognitive impairment in the criminal justice system, by the University of New South Wales and Price Waterhouse Coopers, models the cost-benefits of introducing diversionary programs early in life for people with mental health disorders and cognitive impairment.

Researchers found that early and intensive support could help people avoid a lifetime in the criminal justice system and save the community millions of dollars.

“Justice reinvestment not only offers significant savings but it also has the ability to improve lives and well-being,” said Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes.

“The case studies and costs are real and the cost-benefit modelling is based on services currently available in the community but not widely used,” report co-author, Professor Eileen Baldry said.

Other case studies presented in the report highlight the significant savings that could be made by providing early access to support programs to improve health, education and well-being.

The report supports the Commission’s existing work on access to justice for people with disability. The results of this will be released in December.

Media contact: Sarah Bamford (02) 9284 9758 or 0417 957 525

Sarah.bamford@humanrights.gov.au