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Goff Gets it Wrong on Youth Reoffending

Goff Gets it Wrong on Youth Reoffending

Friday 24 May 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice -- Zero Tolerance for Crime

The Government's heading in the dead wrong direction if it thinks the appalling 97 percent reconviction rate of young offenders released from prison means they should not send them there in the first place, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said.

"We already know prison doesn't rehabilitate and all the fancy programmes and counsellors and leave arrangements and privileges don't work to stop reoffending.

"But there is one clear message - prison as we know it is not deterring hardened offenders.

"Instead of more programmes of well meant `intervention' we should be making sure that prison actually punishes, that it is a place nobody wants to go back to, or at least a place nobody, or much fewer people want to risk being sent to in the first place.

"The problem is that Mr Goff and his colleagues are fixated on measuring programmes by recidivism rates. They should be much more concerned about the numbers quite willing to risk prison in the first place.

"The success of a zero tolerance approach in reducing crime overseas should have Mr Goff and colleagues question why the average young thug has been through 10 or 12 offences and lenient treatments from the system before getting their first prison sentence. By then the thugs have proof that the criminal justice is soft. This is the opposite of zero tolerance - which makes sure entry-level criminals know that the law means what it says.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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