Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Youth organisations say: Tough is not enough from NZAAD

Youth Updates from Maddy's desk
17 February 2009
Joint Media Release

Youth organisations say: Tough is not enough

People who work with youth say the Youth Crime Bill introduced to parliament
yesterday is based on a misconception that the current law isn’t working.
New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) execu-
tive officer Sarah Helm said that she empathised with the new government’s de-
sire to address public concern about youth crime, and to prevent young people
from spiralling into lives of crime.

“All information tells us that a boot camp approach alone is a waste of taxpayer
money - the old corrective training sentence had a massive recidivism rate of
over 90%.” she said.
“The government have announced a bigger Fresh Start package which puts in
some other supports for young offenders such as education.
“There definitely needs to be focused and sustained investment into other types
of support services that focus on a educational, health, drug and alcohol and
welfare needs.”

“Young people engaged in crime usually have a range of problems contributing
to their poor behaviour – a lifetime in state care or family abuse, learning disabili-
ties, poverty, mental health problems, and a lack of adult support,” she said.
YouthLaw Senior Solicitor John Hancock said the current law already provided
for young people who commit serious crime to be tried in the adult court.
“We are also concerned that the Bill proposes reducing the age of criminal
prosecution to include 12 and 13 year olds.”

“Such an amendment would be difficult to reconcile within the current youth jus-
tice framework under the Act and would be contrary to New Zealand’s interna-
tional obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child (UNCROC) and associated juvenile justice”

In addition, the Family Court currently possesses a wide range of powers in re-
spect of child offenders, including reparation, services and custody orders.”
YMCA New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Ric Odom notes that while there is a
widely held perception that we are in the midst of a youth crime wave, overall
youth crime has remained fairly constant over recent years.
New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD)
04 382 9944

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