May 21, 2007 / 6:32 AM / 13 years ago

Cost of prisoners under-estimated by third

A prison guard in a file photo. The financial cost to the country of imprisonment has been underestimated by a third, a report said on Monday. REUTERS/File

LONDON (Reuters) - The financial cost to the country of imprisonment has been underestimated by a third, a report said on Monday.

The estimated annual cost of imprisonment rises from 37,500 pounds to 49,200 pounds per prisoner when the costs to inmates’ families and wider society are taken into account, according to researchers at King’s College, London.

The college’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) and Institute of Psychiatry found that prisoners’ families were hidden victims who experienced significant impoverishment.

The report, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said children, in particular, were suffering hardship due to the imprisonment of family members.

Prisoners’ families are vulnerable to financial instability, poverty, debt and potential housing disruption, it said.

“As imprisonment rises, so the burdens on families will multiply,” Roger Grimshaw, director of research at the CCJS, said.

“Prospects for mental health, child development, and prisoner resettlement are all placed at risk by impoverishment of the most vulnerable.

“Unless there is a real change of policy direction, we have to be worried that the collateral damage of imprisonment will scar families for years to come.”

The research was based on interviews with 41 family members and partners of prisoners living at or below the poverty line.

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