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Judges Will Be Given More Power To Deal With Young

Media Statement By
Tony Ryall
Minister of Justice

15 July, 1999
Judges Will Be Given More Power To Deal With Young Offenders

Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, today told the Far North Justices of the Peace Association that National's plan to give the courts more options to deal with young offenders will help reduce youth offending.

The proposals are part of a new youth justice plan being developed by National, and announced by Tony Ryall at the National Party Annual Conference in Wellington last weekend.

"On the weekend I outlined a new plan National is working on to save a generation of young people from a life of crime", said Mr Ryall speaking in Kerikeri.

"It is a plan about the positive ways we can help young people and their families to break the cycle of crime. Our plan is not only about taking tough actions, it is also about the need for young people to learn respect, discipline and responsibility.

"As we developed the plan it became clear that we needed greater flexibility and innovation in dealing with young offenders.

"National is now investigating giving judges the power to restrict serious young offenders movements through the use of electronic monitoring.

"This technology has been successfully used for adult offenders. It could be adapted and extended to serious young offenders. Electronic monitoring has the potential to assist parents, CYPFA and the Police to enforce curfews and other restrictions on the movements of young offenders. It may also help ensure they are attending school or other rehabilitation courses.

"We are also considering the current limits on the length of supervision orders that the courts can impose on young offenders. At present the Youth Court is limited to imposing custodial orders of not more than 3 months and supervision orders of 6 months.

"Experience is showing that this is often not sufficient time to deal with a young offender's problems. National is looking at giving judges more discretion to impose longer periods of supervision and to widen their conditions.

"We also believe parents must take responsibility for their children. So we are looking at giving judges the power to alert parents to their responsibilities by making them attend courses that offer skills such as parenting, communication, tough love involvement and communications and relationship skills. Already judges can order parents to anti-violence programmes.

"And, we want to clarify and free up access to crucial information to the Courts, Police, and Welfare agencies dealing with young offenders. Increasing access to juvenile records for all court types and clarifying the retention of identification evidence from young offenders are two areas we will be looking at.

"Many of these young people are looking for boundaries. We will help set these boundaries.

"By doing so these young people will see that someone cares about them, and that their futures are important to us.

"The reason the Government is having to do this is because other people in these kids lives have failed them.

"Our approach to juvenile crime will emphasize personal responsibility.

"To save a generation of young people, we must send the message back to our homes, neighbourhoods, and schools that if you break the law you will be held responsible for your actions.

"National will give judges and the Police more powers and options to deal with repeat young offenders. We are investigating:

· Electronic Monitoring Of Serious Young Offenders;
· Giving Judges The Power To Alert Parents To Their Responsibilities;
· Increasing Access To Juvenile Records For All Court Types;
· Expanding The "Youth At Risk" Initiatives That Focus On Persistent And Serious Young Offenders;
· Clarifying The Retention Of Identification Evidence From Young Offenders;
· Longer Supervision Orders;
· Target Truancy; and,
· Inviting The Police To Start Joint Patrols With Probation And CYPS Officers.

"It was pleasing to see that over the weekend Chief Family Court Judge, Patrick Mahoney, Chief Youth Court Judge, David Carruthers, and the Youth Law Project all expressed general support for parts of our plan", said Mr Ryall.


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