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Deal With Youth Offenders Before It's Too Late

Deal With Youth Offenders Before It's Too Late

Monday 4 Oct 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today urged the Government to catch and deal with young offenders now, before it is too late and they grow into hardened adult criminals who end up spending their lives in and out of prison.

"Fresh research has shown that two thirds of young offenders dealt with by Family Group Conferences reoffend, with 20 percent ending up in prison. Perhaps this will show the Government that FGCs do not work for repeat offenders," Dr Newman said.

"Further, answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, between 1999-2003, youth apprehensions rose 10 percent from 30,665 to 33,994. These are the latest statistics the Government holds and numbers would have increased further by now.

"This means that more and more young offenders are being dealt with by a process that fails to alter their behaviour and attitude.

"The fact is that FGCs do not work, and Labour knows it. But, rather than addressing such worrying findings, the Government has a Justice Ministry spokeswoman front up to Linda Clark's `Nine to Noon' show to try to gloss the whole issue over.

"This is completely unacceptable. The current system is failing a large proportion of these young criminals, who become increasingly hardened with each offence, and who are getting closer and closer to becoming hardened adult criminals.

"Clearly, FGCs are providing little deterrent to youth offending, and it is time for change. Lowering the age of criminal culpability would see youths appearing before Youth Court judges - who need the power to deal with them effectively, as proposed in my Sentencing (Community Sentencing to Fit the Crime) Amendment Bill, due to be debated in Parliament on the next Members day.

"Fixing the problems with youth justice in New Zealand is an investment: catching recidivist offenders when they're young - when there is still time to amend their behaviour - ensures that we do not have to try catching and imprisoning them in future," Dr Newman said.


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