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Adult Sentences For Adult Crimes

Adult Sentences For Adult Crimes

Thursday 1 Apr 2004

Stephen Franks Press Releases - Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today called on the Government to reform youth justice by lowering the age of criminal responsibility, after a 14 year-old North Canterbury boy admitted to brutally raping a girl in a Kaiapoi cemetery.

"A boy rapist in Kaikoura and girl robbers in Wellington highlight the failure of our `milk and cuddles' treatment for young thugs. It just produces more young thugs," Mr Franks said.

"The failed youth justice system exempts kids who know what they're doing from responsibility. They get set in a criminal pattern at their most impressionable age. The law should be completely reversed. If any group must be taught that crime doesn't pay, that the community is serious about punishment, and that they are responsible for their futures, it is young people before they're crime-hardened. Prison later doesn't rehabilitate - it's too late.

"Last October a UN committee told us we should raise the age of criminal responsibility. The Prime Minister and Attorney-General Margaret Wilson missed the opportunity to tell them we would head in the opposite direction. ACT said we should tell this committee that we aren't prepared to see so-called `children' get away with crimes of adult brutality. The Government was silent.

"In May 2002, the Government released a major report on youth justice, which essentially claimed all was well. It should have recommended reducing the age of criminal responsibility to age 10 for homicide, and from 14 to 12 for other offences.

"ACT urges adult sentences for adult crimes - though young people should serve their sentences in facilities suited to children, keeping them separate from career criminals," Mr Franks said.

ENDS

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