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Getting to criminals before they get to you

14 June 2002
Media Statement

‘I’ll get to tomorrow’s criminals before they get to you’

“I believe that we can intervene at any stage of the life of an offender, from birth onwards,” Corrections Minister Matt Robson says.

“I know that some find that controversial, but I believe it is a challenge we must face.

“Tired or meaningless slogans are easy to churn out in an election.

“What is hard is setting aside political ideology and focusing only on ‘what works’. Not what sounds ‘tough’ or ‘soft’, ‘right wing’ or ‘left wing’.

He was delivering the keynote speech to the Prison Fellowship of New Zealand in Matamata this evening.

“Early intervention works. It is the most successful of all interventions. More successful than programs in prison, more successful than post release re-integration.

“We are hiding our heads in the sand if we don’t face the fact that there are kids out there who will become tomorrow’s murderers and burglars.

“We can’t predict with absolute accuracy who those kids are of course, but we can have a pretty good idea.

“For example we have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the Western world. I don’t want to punish teenage mums, I want to give them the skills to be good mothers and the confidence to develop their own lives so that their kids don’t go off the rails.

“It’s ironic that after the last election I was attacked by some for being too soft. Now, two and half years later, I’m attacked for building new prisons and being too tough!” says Matt Robson.

“In the next government I will implement further early intervention strategies. My job doesn’t start when an offender enters one of my prisons, and end when he or she leaves. It starts in the homes and schools of kids at risk,” says Matt Robson.


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