Teens as young as 14 are being locked away before being found guilty, the Children’s Commissioner has said in a call for change.
A new report has examined how New Zealanders aged between 14 and 17 on bail are dealt, with and what changes are needed.
The work started in March 2018 with Oranga Tamariki asking the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to review how the ministry dealt with people in Youth Court, particularly around remand decisions and whānau.
The review found about 80 per cent of the about 140 young people currently in youth justice residences were there awaiting the outcome of a court case.
“Often the charges against these young people haven’t been proved. But they nevertheless find themselves in a youth justice facility, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for much longer,” the review said.
There may be an issue here but we are not given enough information to decide.
Most would agree with the principle that having a young person in a youth justice facility is a last resort.
The first thing we are not told is what proportion of young people charged with a crime are sent to a youth justice facility? 10%? 1%? 0.1%?
But the more important thing we are not told is what charged are those 110 young people facing? If it is burglary, then I’d agree having them in a youth justice facility may makes things worse. But what if it is homicide or rape? You really can’t have them in the community if they have allegedly killed someone? Also are those 110 repeat offenders?
Also how many of them were on bail but breached the conditions of bail?
I’m sympathetic to the principle espoused but the report and article do not give enough information to decide if there are realistic alternatives.