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United NZ Welcomes Focus On Young Offenders

United New Zealand Welcomes Focus On Young Offenders

The proposal to commission new prisons for youth offenders is a welcome initiative says the Hon Peter Dunne, leader, United New Zealand.

"It is a well known fact that many hardened criminals begin their cycle of offending while young, so dedicated youth prison units which keep these young offenders separate from older, hardened offenders and addresses the causes of their offending is positive.

"Many young offenders are products of inter-generational crime and simply do not have the opportunity to steer away from a life in crime, so any measures society can take to improve their prospects must be supported," says Mr Dunne.

He says if young offenders end up in prison then it makes sense to use that custodial time to attempt to set them straight.

"I think most fair minded people would agree it is better to invest in rehabilitation while offenders are young, before crime becomes a way of life. Not only does this make more economic sense, it will potentially significantly improve the prospects for these young people and make our society safer.

"We owe it our young people to give them an opportunity for a better and more hopeful future. Targeting offenders at the beginning of their criminal lives also has the potential to reduce the adult prison population in the future.

"The new youth prisons deserve to be supported and the success of existing units at Hawkes' Bay and Waikeria is acknowledged. Their emphasis on reducing suicides and drug and alcohol dependency is especially welcome.

They should however, be seen as part of a wider policy, as proposed by United, which also empowers parents, kaumatua and social workers to work with the courts to place young offenders in diversionary programmes and community work. "Youth offending is a complex and important area. Today's announcement by the Corrections Minister is encouraging," concludes Mr Dunne.

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