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"Putting kids in jail" Bill already in place

CYFS Minister confirms Ron Mark's "putting kids in jail" Bill is already in place

Dr Pita Sharples, Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau

Thursday 11 May 2006

Child, Youth and Family Minister, Ruth Dyson, today responded to questions from Dr Pita Sharples by confirming that there are already twelve year old children locked up in the Child, Youth and Family Korowai Manaaki Youth Justice North Centre in Manurewa.

"I was devastated to find that these young people are being shunted into the chain of incarceration, rather than investment being made into supporting them within the context of their families and whanau" said Dr Pita Sharples.

"It was also staggering to learn that the Minister was unconcerned about a 'short-fall' of ten million dollars, brushing it off by saying that costs had accumulated, as if it happens every day".

"Mind you, looking at both the CYFS and the Corrections experiences, massive blow-outs on projected costs for facilities is fast becoming the norm for this Government".

"All I can think, is that ten million dollars could have been much better spent in supporting families and whanau in their most important role - in caring for their children".

"I have seen family group conferences [FGC] dealing with extremely difficult cases which could have resulted in incarceration" said Dr Sharples.

"The community and the whanau were given an opportunity, through the FGC, to craft a solution which did not involve incarceration".

"The outcome of those cases resulted in communities applying their best thinking in coming up with a solution which involved accountability, responsibility, forgiveness and healing; despite the crimes which many may see as horrific".

"It is a pity that the twelve year olds who are currently locked away in youth justice facilities are not given those same opportunities for a new start".

Background Dr Pita Sharples asked for an explanation of the ten million differential between March 2005 when construction costs for the Te Waerenga Road site in Kaharoa were projected at $30 million and November 2005 when the facility was estimated to have cost $40 million to build.

ENDS

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