Media release: Petition shows public support to take young people out of adult justice system 
Date: 1 November 2016

petition to raise the age of youth justice to 21 has collected over 3000 signatures within a week. The petition was initiated by JustSpeak, one of the 35 organisations calling on the Government to raise the age of youth justice, and was launched through ActionStation.

The decision for many to sign was based on their own experiences of the system. As one person said; “Prisons don’t work, I spent ten years working in one and they did nothing to help our young people.”

Others reflected on what might have been in their own families; “I have two sons who are highly successful – but if they’d got into a minor scrape or two in these formative years they would have learned they were criminals and I can’t imagine what might have happened to them as a result. At 17 you don’t know much about anything – but you’ll sure learn fast in prison. Stop this madness.”

Another simply signed “because I’m 17 and i know me and others need more support”.

“These young people need support, not prison” says JustSpeak Director Katie Bruce. “The Government’s own research released last month shows that keeping young people in the youth system reduces the frequency and escalation of their offending. Prison fails on these counts. It is no place for young people and we need to stem the flow of our young people into prison.”

As there is a push to take young people out of the adult justice system over here in Aotearoa, just a few days ago results from a UK inquiry were released.

“Young offenders up to the age of 25 should be kept out of adult prisons because of “irrefutable evidence” that the typical adult male brain is not fully formed until at least the mid-20s”, UK MPs have said.

The UK committee’s inquiry found that “rates of learning disability, communication impairment and autistic spectrum disorder are 10 times higher among young offenders than among young people in the general population”.