Monday, March 25, 2013

Howling from behind the Bench!

Good Day Readers:

While Tom Brodbeck's idea certainly has merit CyberSmokeBlog has a better one. Why not fine Manitoba Justices and Judges $1% of what it cost to reincarcerate someone released on bail or any type of conditional release program? Imagine the hue and cry you'd hear emanating from behind the Benches?

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Cops should bill justice system for revolving door of arrests
Tom Brodbeck
Thursday, January 31, 2013
There’s a simple solution to the rising costs of policing in Winnipeg.

Police should start billing the justice system for the additional costs they incur re-arresting the same people over and over again, whether they’re released on bail or allowed back into the community on some type of conditional release.

Because the reality is, that’s where a lot of police resources are gobbled up — chasing down, re-arresting and processing the same individuals time and time again.

The city is paying a U.S. consulting firm $174,000 to try to find efficiencies within the police service. They’ll tinker around the edges and tell city bureaucrats things they already know. But it won’t amount to much. And it won’t solve the problem of skyrocketing police budgets.

One of the key drivers behind soaring police costs is the amount of time police spend re-arresting people they’ve already collared and brought before the courts.

Police investigate crimes, make arrests and work with the prosecutions branch to lay appropriate charges.
It’s an expensive process. But it’s even pricier when those same criminals re-offend after they’ve been released into the community — either too early or inappropriately — and police are forced to chase them down all over again.

Police agencies not only get stuck with the bill to cover those added expenses, they get criticized for their rapidly growing operating costs.

So maybe it’s time for police agencies like the Winnipeg Police Service to start billing the provincial and federal governments for all costs associated with the re-arrest of people released on bail, recognizance, or early release — including parole, statutory release or any other conditional release — who violate court orders or who re-offend.

In exchange for billing senior levels of government for re-arrests, the province could eliminate all direct funding it provides to the WPS, including the 153 police officers the provincial government now pays for.
That way the senior levels of government would be held financially responsible and politically accountable for their decisions. And police would be held responsible for the initial costs of investigating crimes and bringing wrongdoers before the courts.

It’s unknown how much of the police’s $243-million budget is spent on re-arresting people cops have already collared. Police don’t track those figures. But we do know it makes up a significant portion of their workload.

We report almost daily on how police are searching for criminals who have violated their court orders or re-offended after early release. Crime Stoppers is filled with examples on a regular basis of criminals on the lamb for re-offending after being released too early into the community.

Yet it’s cops who are burdened with tracking down those criminals again and it’s the police who have to absorb the added costs of doing so.

Well, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t support the revolving-door system of justice and allow criminals back on the street on a perpetual basis and then criticize police for requiring more resources to re-capture those same habitual offenders.

If the provincial and federal governments choose to release repeat offenders back into the community on a revolving-door basis, they should have to pay the cost of re-arresting them.

If police were able to bill for the extra work they’re forced to do, the province and the feds would begin to re-evaluate how they release people into the community. Money talks. And when any level of government is forced to pay for the costs associated with their own policies, they begin to re-assess very quickly.

Not only would taxpayers save money by substantially reducing the costs of re-arresting and processing the same criminals over and over again, our streets would be safer, too.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

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