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Youth justice policy feeble

Youth justice policy feeble

Monday 21 Mar 2005

Stephen Franks - Press Releases - Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice spokesman Stephen Franks today summarised National's youth Justice policy as "timid steps in the right direction."

"It does some sensible things but there is nothing there to deliver the essential message that stealing, vandalism and hurting people will be punished," Mr Franks said. "The system will still tell young people that feeble excuses work."

· The system will continue to operate in secret so the strongest incentives for behaving, shame and concern for family reputation, will continue to mean nothing.

· There is nothing to make family group conference outcomes enforceable

· The whole process is focussed on the offender not the crime. The necessary reform would restore equality before the law so, what you have done matters, not who you are.

· The system will still patronise young people instead of treating them as responsible for their actions. For example, it is time kids buying smokes and alcohol or drugs were treated as knowing what they are doing is illegal.

· There is plenty of caring talk, e.g. about bullying, but no explanation of any practical steps to beef up the authority of schools and parents by stopping lawyers and judges second guessing them.

· Parenting orders sound promising, but if they rely on the threat of discredited community work sentences, the worst families will treat them as a joke.

"Overall, it is an establishment response to a system dominated by self anointed experts," Mr Franks said "Telling limp wristed judges that National will "investigate" giving young offenders the possibility of a year's sentence instead of three months is only slightly better than nothing. What needs investigation? It won't do anything if the whole system is still apologising for punishment."

"When Dr Brash rushes to assure the media that parenting orders are not supposed to be a punishment we can be sure he is not planning the fundamental common sense overhaul that is needed," Mr Franks said.

ENDS

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