Support from across the political spectrum is backing a Government proposal to keep 17-year-olds out of adult courts.
Justice Minister Amy Adams has asked officials to look at whether dealing with 17-year-olds in the Youth Court will cut rates of re-offending and stop some young people starting out on a life of crime.
The Youth Court, currently for those aged 12 to 16, is less formal and has specialised judges. Offenders also don’t get a criminal record.
Labour leader Andrew Little, Greens co-leader James Shaw and UnitedFuture’s Peter Dunne are all in favour of the Government exploring raising the threshold – a move the United Nations also wanted.
Shaw said the Greens took a restorative justice approach to crime and he questioned the impact of sending teenagers to prisons.
“It’s more likely they’ll end up in prison over and over again”.
The trouble is that there are a hard core of youth offenders who have no fear of the youth court, and will treat the period up until which they can go to adult court, as a no consequences offending period.
Now you don’t set policy just based on the worst offenders, but you do need to make sure the law can keep youth out of jail if at all possible, but also protect us from recidivist youth offenders.