Monday, March 21, 2005


Don Brash's call today for an overhaul of youth offending provisons was a predictable mish-mash of 'get-tough' rhetoric and poor research. Three major points stand out:

1) Many of the measures suggested in his speech are are already in place. Phil Goff comprehensively outlines this showing that things like parenting orders, increased resources to tackle truancy, and intensive programmes for repeat youth offenders are already happening.

2) The difference is that at the moment, the person (case manager, judge...) dealing with the specific situation at hand has the scope to tailor an approach most suitable to getting the young person at hand back on track. Brash's proposals would see things like mandatory counselling for parents kick in given certain circumstances, even though this may be totally pointless if there is a high degree of estrangement between the young person and his/her parents. It's a blunt, one size fits all prescription.

3) Lowering the age of criminal consent to 12 is nasty knee-jerk stuff, and it won't work as a deterrant. Most of the available evidence shows that if you put young people into the adult criminal justice system, quite aside from the harm you expose them to, you actually increase the odds that they will re-offend.

All very predictable and desperate.

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