Monday, 4 July 2011
"After Today's Speculations - Perchard May Be First To Pay For His Keep"
Senator Jim Perchard is asking the Home Affairs Minister to consider charging inmates for their time behind bars in a bid to save millions of pounds a year.
He says that in this age of austerity the States should be recouping all the income they can - and so prisoners should be means tested.
But critics say this is not done anywhere in Europe and that it breaches human rights.
Banging up criminals is an expensive business. It costs £58 thousand a year to keep a prisoner behind bars in Jersey.
And when you think there are 197 inmates at La Moye - that is a running cost of around £11 million a year.
Senator Perchard said: "We don't want to bankrupt any prisoner or sell their only few possessions. The idea is to charge those who are able to pay and that's why means testing could be undertaken or should be undertaken and they would be charged on an ability to pay basis."
Critics say it is punishment enough to have your freedom taken away and that if the government wants to save money through the criminal justice system, there are other ways to do it.
Deputy Roy Le Herissier said: "I'd like much more strongly to look at alternatives to prison, are we overusing the prison? Secondly I'd be more energetic about getting the proceeds of crime making sure we tap people up there and thirdly I'd like to see where people are paid for real work and they have to pay the equivalent of board and lodgings for being in prison."
The Home Affairs Minister has firmly rejected the idea. He says there is no precedent for it in Europe and that it breaches civil liberties.
Ian Le Marquand said: "There'd be serious problems from a human rights point of view because this would be viewed as a double penalty and also because it would be requiring people to pay for something they didn't want to pay for. It also causes further problems for families who already may've suffered collateral damage as I like to call it by the imprisonment of the main breadwinner."