How to turn a child offender into an adult criminal – In 10 easy steps
Aug 11, 2010
from the paper by NZ Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft:
The theme of this paper is probably similar to many others about youth justice, except that it is approached from a perspective that is deliberately contrary to all but the most committed devil’s advocate.
No reasonable person would ever suggest that the goal of a youth justice system is to promote criminality as a career choice for young people. However, blatantly inverting 30 years of accumulated youth justice wisdom provokes useful discussion. It is also hoped that this deliberately polemical approach will help us identify what is essential about any youth justice system and focus our attention on the principles that are most important when addressing youth offending.
- Leave families alone to sort themselves out: “Ignore risk and erode resiliency”.
- Make the age of criminal responsibility as young as possible and get children into Court as soon as possible.
- “Criminalise” welfare issues.
- Treat all young offenders as if they were the same.
- Always arrest the child/young person if they offend, especially the first time no matter what the circumstances. Be firm and disrespectful, and always bring them to Court.
- Sideline the child offender in the justice response. Ensure the child is marginalised, does not participate, and prevent any contact between the offender and the victim.
- Always enter a conviction on the child/young person’s record. And make no allowance for youth at sentencing: ‘adult time for adult crime’.
- Convicted young people need a short sharp shock; in praise of corrective training, boot camps, and scared straight programmes.
- Segregate young offenders from their families, communities and victims. Wherever possible, aggregate them together in treatment facilities and in prison.
- If all else fails, use ‘what works’ for child offenders, but deliver it badly.
Read the whole article.