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New Youth Offending Programme Launched

28 April 2002

Details of a new youth offending programme targeting serious and habitual offenders were announced today by Justice Minister, Phil Goff.

“The Taskforce on Youth Offending highlighted major deficiencies in how New Zealand has dealt with youth offending.

“Serious young offenders are responsible for a large proportion of offences committed by young people and they are unlikely to cease offending without specific high quality intervention.

“There is a major gap in the system which has meant those serious young offenders either have to be dealt with by short term custody (up to three months) in a youth residence, or are sent to jail.

“The first offers too little time to deal with the entrenched problems usually associated with recidivist offending. The second generally is simply a stepping-stone to a lifetime of criminal offending, imposing a huge cost on the community and wasting a young person’s life.

“The new programme targets repeat offenders aged 14-16. While offenders guilty of crimes such as rape and murder will not be considered for the programme, those targeted will be the more serious offenders otherwise on a path to life in prison.

“The programme involves intensive rehabilitation, addressing all the causes of a young offenders behaviour.

“An 18-month three-stage programme with a residential period of up to one year will be sufficiently long to make a difference.

“The programme will operate in phases beginning with tightly restricted privileges and liberty, including a detoxification period, moving through to community-based therapy and reintegrative activity.

“The programme will be monitored by the Ministry of Justice, but will be managed by a Crown Trust, with a Board representing a partnership between the Government, private sector and community.

“A key element will be the follow-up to the programme involving the private sector.

“I welcome the interest and the commitment of Stephen Tindall of the Warehouse. Stephen has offered opportunities for training and mentoring with long-term training and career opportunities for suitable graduates from the programme. He will be working with other businesses to provide similar opportunities.

“Community groups such as those associated with Tainui have also offered to become involved to operate programmes in a way that provides family and community input to turning young offenders lives around.

“I pay particular tribute to Judge Carolyn Henwood who has been an inspiration and the catalyst to developing this programme.

“Budget 2002 will provide $2.85 million (including $700,000 capital expenditure) over three years to pilot the new programme. It will initially involve one centre and then may be expanded progressively to four others following a positive evaluation.

“This programme deals with the most difficult young offenders. Making the necessary changes in their lives will be a significant challenge. The alternative, inadequate intervention leading to entrenched adult criminal offending is however more costly to society, in terms of victims and expense.

“This programme, in conjunction with Day Reporting Centres and the Youth Drug Court pilot announced last week will make a real difference in terms of dealing with the problem of serious young offenders,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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