March 10, 2021
Youth demerit points scheme bad idea – Law Society
The Law Society has slammed a private members bill that would create a demerit points system for youth offenders.
The society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa told a parliamentary select committee the proposal was not supported by evidence and is unlikely to achieve its objective of delivering appropriate consequences for youth offending.
Spokesperson Dale Lloyd says the scheme won’t address the multiple risk factors that can contribute to youth offending such as mental health problems, neuro-disabilities and traumatic brain injury, physical and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, housing and education problems.
It’s also inconsistent with the philosophy of the Youth Court, which focuses on holding young offenders to account while also recognising their needs and vulnerability.
A provision in the Bill allowing an enforcement officer to bypass the Youth court and lay charges against a young person directly in the District Court would increase the number of young people charged in the District Court and is likely to disproportionately impact rangatahi Māori.
It says there is a pervasive lack of responsibility by youth offenders is not supported by recent statistics which show a continuing drop in the rate of youth offending.
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