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Value Of Youth Offending Strategy

Reconviction Report Underlines Value Of Youth Offending Strategy

A Ministry of Justice report on reconviction and reimprisonment rates for released prisoners supports the Government’s strategy to tackle youth crime, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

“The report highlights that prison is a revolving door and young offenders who enter the prison system are the most likely to be reconvicted and end up inside again.

“The study relates to people released from prison between 1995 and 1998 under the previous Government.

“Younger inmates are considerably more likely to be reconvicted than older inmates. Virtually all (97 percent) of teenage offenders who had been imprisoned were reconvicted of some offence within five years.

“Teenage inmates were also far more likely to end up inside prison again than any other age-group. Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of teenage offenders released were imprisoned again within five years.

“The clear message is that once people enter the prison system they are in danger of repeatedly going back there.

“That is why the Youth Offending Strategy is so crucial as it aims to stop the young people of today becoming the recidivist adult criminals of the future.

“Early intervention to deal with the causes of offending is more effective than trying to break entrenched patterns of reoffending later in life.

“The report shows that the more often people have been convicted previously the more likely they were to be reconvicted. 41 percent of first offenders had been reconvicted within two years of being released compared to 85 percent of inmates with more than twenty previous convictions.

“Budget 2002 provided $12 million in funding for Day Reporting Centres aimed at targeting young offenders with individualised, intensive programmes.
“These provide offenders with individualised programmes which are intensive and relatively long. They focus on meeting educational and vocational needs.

“More serious young offenders are being targeted with a new residential scheme with $2.85 million provided in Budget 2002 to run a pilot programme.

“This 18-month programme which provides intensive rehabilitation is an alternative either to a two-month period of residence with supervision in a CYFS home or a prison sentence, neither of which are often effective in reducing reoffending.

“The Youth Drug Court pilot in Christchurch targets teens with drug or alcohol abuse problems who are in danger of being caught up in a cycle of repeat offending. They are referred to treatment programmes, under close judicial supervision.

“Around 80 percent of all inmates have drug and alcohol problems and unless these are addressed they will continue to contribute to individual’s criminal behaviour.

“This study highlights that prison too often prevents reoffending only for the period for which the individual is imprisoned. Earlier intervention is a key component of battling this problem.

“The Government is acting after years in which too little was done. These figures relating to the previous administration bear out that the approaches of the past failed. They also show that imprisonment alone is not the answer to stopping reoffending,” Mr Goff said.


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