How we can stop wasting millions on our justice system

And start spending it on building a more caring, inclusive and sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand

The Government just announced it will spend $1 billion on 1800 new prison beds.

It’s a staggering amount of money, and here’s the thing: There’s a way we can save money and reduce the amount of criminal offenders we have in New Zealand.

Our Youth Justice system is renowned across the world. People leave the system far more likely to reintegrate into the community, and far less likely to re-offend.2

It’s a brilliant system, but it’s only available to people aged 14–16.

If we raised the age of Youth Justice to 21, we could rehabilitate thousands of young people before they become repeat criminal offenders later in life.

We’d be reducing our criminal population, and free up millions from our over-crowded, bloated prison system in the process.

Every year experts, scholars and practitioners flock from all around the world to see our Youth Justice system in action. It’s unique, and it works.

It makes offenders engage directly with their victims, who get the chance to articulate the pain, anger and harm the offenders have caused. It’s very common for young people to formally apologise and offer restitution to their victims.

Ultimately, it leaves people less likely to re-offend. But only a small fraction of young offenders ever get the chance.

Too many young people are ending up in an adult justice system that punished blindly and offers no solutions to help stop future offences.

It increases our criminal muster, does nothing to stop re-offenders, and wastes millions of dollars at a time when we’re struggling to fight child poverty and fund our schools and our hospitals.

Click here to sign our petition to help rehabilitate more young offenders, save our economy millions and help prevent future criminals

We’ve created this petition in partnership with JustSpeak, a network of young people speaking to, and speaking up for a new generation of thinkers who want change in our criminal justice system.

Further reading:

  1. Minister Collins committed to building more crime, JustSpeak blog, 18th October 2016
  2. Include all children in our youth justice system: An open letter to PM John Key and Cabinet Ministers