Challenge 2000 put the youth justice case to Bill English

challenge 2000

Last week the deputy prime minister, Bill English visited Challenge 2000, a Youth Development, Community and Family Social Work agency based in Johnsonville, near Wellington.

Challenge staff discussed with English the services they provide to youth and how they could help if the age at which people are referred to the adult court was raised to 18.

The founder of Challenge 2000, Kitty McKinley said putting 17-year-olds through the adult courts and into prison was like putting them into a “training school on how to be a better criminal”.

“We know what works; we have seen the damaging effects of 17-year-olds going through the adult court system.”

The director of Challenge, Steve O’Connor said English was there to listen…and he did that.

O’Connor said it was a great opportunity to share their views and have a good general discussion.

“I think people don’t understand the reality of the youth justice system and that leads to knee-jerk reactions.”

English said he learned a lot from the visit, and also heard a number of issues that had been raised before. “It shows the kind of expert range of support [in New Zealand] for young people.”

Though English was non committal about his personal view of raising the youth justice age to 18, he said it was something the Government would continue to discuss.


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