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Youth Offending: Key Proposals In The Pipe-Line

5 April 2002

“In a few weeks this government will be announcing new initiatives to tackle youth crime. Many of these are proposals that the Alliance in government has fought for,” Corrections Minister Matt Robson says.

“If anyone needed further proof of why it’s worth being a constructive coalition partner in government, this is it.”

He was speaking at the opening of New Zealand’s fifth Maori Focus Unit at Tongariro-Rangipo prison near Turangi. Maori Focus Units are proving successful at reducing re-offending of Maori inmates, by addressing the causes of their offending. The new Unit at Tongariro-Rangipo Prison will house up to 60 inmates, all minimum security.

“It is very appropriate that I talk about youth offending. Because those of you here today know better than anyone, that young Maori can comprise up to 90% of young people before the Court.

“We need to get to those young people before they offend, before they start to miss school, before they get their first warning from the police. And certainly before they end up in prison.

“Last year I released a report called About Time. Its key conclusion was this: early intervention works best, costs less. It costs more than $50,000 to send someone to prison each year. It costs only $5000 to intervene with one aggressive five year old. More importantly, the chances of success are much greater.

“I look forward to working more closely with the Ministers of Social Welfare, Education, Maori Affairs and of course Justice to make sure that I don’t have to open any more new prisons in the future.

“It may seem odd to some that the Minister in charge of prisons wants to know what’s happening inside our schools. But that’s the only way we’ll stop the kid who’s playing truant today from hurting someone tomorrow, and ending up in prison,” Matt Robson says.

Ends

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