Prison Numbers tell all

This M & G on-line report lists numbers in South Africa that are telling.

  • Cost per prisoner per month                                  R9 876.35
  • Cost per prisoner per year                                  R118 516.20
  • prison population (includes remands)                   156 370
  • cost per month                                          R1,544,364,849.50 
  • cost per year                                           R18,532,378,194.00
  • prisons                                                                          243 
  • average cost per prison per year                   R76,264,930.84

These are costs to South Africa’s taxpayers.

Compare this to the cost of a tertiary education in a state sponsored university.

  • Student cost of 1 year’s fees at university range from 30K to 50K (say 40K average)
    depending on the courses.
  • So a three year degree will cost a student about R120 k.
  • The state will contribute about 30% and private sponsorship the balance.
  • Assuming private sponsorship of zero, the R120k = about 70%, so
  • the state will contribute about R51 000 for a three year course.

So, the cost to the state of 1 year’s imprisonment for 1 prisoner will be about R118,5k or equal to state sponsorship for 2.3 three-year degree courses.

 Put another way, three years’ imprisonment for 1 prisoner (R355k) = state sponsorship for 7 three year degree courses (R350k).

Setting aside the fact that 30% or 1/3rd state sponsorship is simply not enough, the fact that you can equate 3 years of imprisonment to 7 three year degree courses speaks volumes of where the state’s funding priorities lie.

Let us say that the state sponsored education 100%, so a three year degree course might cost the state R171k compared to a three year imprisonment cost of R355.5k, even then three years’ imprisonment would equate to two three-year degree courses. Makes you think.

  • By comparison, the R2 Billion spent on President Zuma’s  Nkandla compound and the infrastructure in the surrounds (see here) would have funded
    • 100% of 11, 691 three year degrees or about
    • 40 000 three year degrees at the present level of sponsorship.  
  • Makes you think some more.

It makes Direct Democracy Forum’s education and training policies supported by a TEAL backed fiscus even more relevant, when you consider the impact it would have on the prison population. While not claiming that only the uneducated are criminals (they certainly are not), the DDF are pretty certain that the better educated a person is and the more employable he or she is (the two generally correlate), the less likely he or she will be to resort to crime to survive.

This will result in

  • less crime,
  • fewer prisoners,
  • less pressure on the criminal justice system as a whole (we haven’t even considered those costs in our calculations)
  • less distressed families and individuals,
  • less pressure on the social services funded by the state and civil society

this is just a win-win situation whichever way you look at it.

These are all DDF policy basics. See how the DDF can help you.

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The buck stops at the ballot box

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