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Youth Crime Matters More Than Headline Crime

  • March 1st, 2005

The biggest changes should be in entry-level crime.

It’s too late once they have a life pattern of offending.

Adult sentences for adult crime. Reduce criminal responsibility to age 10 for homicide and age 12 for all other offences. Give adult sentences for adult crimes but ensure they are served in youth facilities away from career criminals.

Don’t patronise young people. Hold young people responsible for law breaking, as well as the adults who facilitate offences. They should know it is unlawful when they buy cigarettes or alcohol or are drunk or offer themselves in prostitution.

Bad company breeds bad behaviour. Restore non-association orders as a routine and strictly enforced consequence of offending, to break up gangs and make bad company a burden.

Treat crime as crime. End Family Court involvement to show crime is taken seriously.

Two chances, not fifty. Allow family group conferencing only for initial offences, so that it is seen as a second chance, not a soft touch.

No real family, no group conference. End the charade of family group conferencing when offenders have no responsible family members.

Restore shame. End name and record suppression for guilty young people and their families; to cancel the message that youth offending does not really matter. Shame is the first deterrent to offending in healthy societies.

Punish bad parents. Hold parents responsible for readily preventable child offending.

Protect good parents. Protect parents, clubs, schools and employers who set behaviour standards from being pilloried by the courts in hindsight for trivial breaches of process.

Make restorative justice restore. Pay more than lip service to restorative justice by making outcome agreements enforceable and authorise probation officers to supervise performance.

Uphold police discretions. Legitimise police diversion/detention and tough love programmes for first offenders as an alternative to ordinary court enforcement

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