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Three Strikes for Younger Offenders is Still a Bad Idea

Three Strikes for Younger Offenders is Still a Bad Idea

“Those who voted in favour of Garth McVicar’s three strikes policy for youth offenders, must have RSI from ticking the ‘Yes’ button well into the night,” said Kim Workman, of Rethinking Crime and Punishment. He was referring to a recent Sensible Sentencing Yahoo Poll, which was far from being a robust survey of public opinion and allows individuals to vote more than once.

“It is unfortunate that the trust chooses to deliberately stir up community fear about the extent of youth crime, and promote a false impression that it is a major issue. The public should pay more attention to people who know what they’re talking about. Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft, who has an immense amount of ‘coal face’ experience, assures us that child and youth apprehensions are quite stable and not a cause for concern.”

“To say that Family Group Conferences are not working is a nonsense, although I agree that victim engagement and support could be improved. Notwithstanding, the current system gives victims a much better opportunity to be involved than any other part of the criminal justice system. It is difficult to understand why Sensible Sentencing want victims to be less involved by returning to the adversarial system.”

We should keep in mind that a Family Group Conference is not a sentence in itself. It is a decision making forum involving members of the community. There is still ample room for serious cases to be dealt with by the Youth Court.

Those who want to see youth offenders dealt with effectively should read a 2009 article by Judge Becroft, ‘How to Turn a Child Offender into an Adult Criminal in 10 Easy Steps.’ It is available from our website at: www.rethinking.org.nz

Those who do read it, will soon realise that the proposed ‘three strikes for young offenders’ policy is a recipe for disaster. The Hon Simon Power was right to reject it.


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