New court programme hopes to break cycle for young offenders

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 1:57PM
Andrew Little. (Photo / NZ Herald)

New court programme hopes to break cycle for young offenders

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 1:57PM

A new initiative has been launched targeting young offenders entering the justice system.

The Young Adult List will give 18 to 25-year-olds extra support in an effort to stop reoffending.

Judge John Walker, the Principal Youth Court Judge who led the development of the programme, says often offenders come from a background of being exposed to trauma and abuse and those challenges do not expire when they turn 18 and come into the adult court.

Every Friday, a specialist team will provide 18 to 25 year-olds with the full spectrum of wrap-around services including specialist probation officers, adolescent mental health services, alcohol and other drug screening, and links to community support.

Justice Minister Andrew Little told Kerre McIvor that it will be money well spent if they can stop people continuing to cycle through the justice system or go to prison, which is an expensive exercise in itself. 

"The more serious [crimes] will be dealt with at the more serious end. The sorts of offences these folks are up for will be driving offences, there'll be low-level assaults and things like that."

He says that there will be other issues going on, such as trauma or learning difficulties, and it's about getting the younger offenders early enough to "reprogramme" their brains.

"So rather than offending, they've got ways of handling the situation they are in." 

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