New Zealand teen criminals to be sent to army-style boot camps

February 16th, 2009 - 1:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Feb 16 (DPA) Hardcore teenage criminals in New Zealand will be sent to military-style boot camps under a new law announced by the centre-right government Monday.

The camps will take the “most dangerous and recidivist young offenders” aged 14-16 whose persistent offending indicates they are heading for the adult court system, said the Minister of Youth Affairs Paula Bennett.

“It is the most intensive intervention aimed at helping them get their lives back on track,” she said. “These sorts of programmes will provide offenders with clear boundaries and teach them about self-discipline, personal responsibility and community values.”

She said the government’s Child, Youth and Family department was working with the New Zealand Defence Force to develop a military-style residential programme for the young offenders.

Bennett said 40 teenagers would be sent to a boot camp in the first year.

The announcement came as part of a tough new law being introduced to parliament this week to deal with the country’s worst 1,000 youth offenders.

It increases sentences and gives the Youth Court powers to issue a new range of compulsory orders including parenting, mentoring and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes.

Prime Minister John Key described the policy as a “new sentencing toolbox for judges” dealing with the worst young offenders.

“We need to deal more effectively with the growing group of young Kiwis who are seriously and repeatedly breaking the law,” he said. “These ticking time bombs need to be sent a message that their behaviour will not be tolerated.”

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