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Labour Invites The Big Finger

Labour Invites The Big Finger

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today accused the Government of inviting teenage offenders to give the law the finger, after a Hamilton teen clocked up $9,205 in fines - after having nearly $20,000 written off last year.

"Clinton Lawrence Bidois was given periodic detention in lieu of paying $19,338 in fines. Plainly, this so persuaded him of the error of his ways that he went out and committed a further 17 offences," said Mr Franks.

"And then, for the latest, he got another `don't be a naughty boy' smack for his latest offence, after the judge heard a plea to give him another chance. Justice Minister Phil Goff's new Sentencing Act says judges must use fines in preference to imprisonment, or even community work sentences.

"This case is a perfect example of the flaws in our youth justice system. Teenagers are taught that the law doesn't mean what it says, fines don't matter, and the law-abiding community are suckers. The system teaches them not to fear the law. They are not forced to face the consequences of their actions. Instead of a second, or at most third, chance, they get 10 or 20 second chances.

"Recent OECD figures put New Zealand's youth crime rate higher than any other in the developed world. Instead of looking for a solution, Labour disputes the figures, buries its head in the sand and slaps offenders limply on the wrist - essentially telling them to commit crime.

"New Zealanders owed $451.7 million in fines at the end of last year, up from $387 million the year before. These figures don't include include amounts which are written off, like Bidois' slate-cleaning write off - if it did, then the total figure would be mind-boggling.

"The youth justice system, and the new law, teach teenagers that crime really does pay. Youth justice should be doing the opposite, making it clear that the law can't be mocked," said Mr Franks.

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