A/Prof Nessa Lynch1, Associate Professor Ian Lambie2
1Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand,
2New Zealand Government/Clinical Psychology, University of Auckland, , New Zealand
Principle and Evidence – Reforming youth justice in Aotearoa New Zealand
While New Zealand’s youth justice system is well-regarded for attributes like a high rate of diversion and the development of innovative practice and policy initiatives, long-standing entrenched issues such as the over-representation of Maori children and young persons and the continuation of a punitive approach to top-end offending have not been sufficiently addressed.
In this paper, we consider recent reforms and initiatives in the youth justice system from the perspectives of principle and evidence.
The first aspect is the reform of principles: new principles, introduced as part of a re-orientation of the law governing care and protection and youth justice, were enacted on 1 July 2019. Key amongst these are the concept of ‘well-being’, a clarification of the purposes of the youth justice system, recognition of rights under international conventions, recognition of Maori cultural concepts and the inclusion of most 17 year olds in the youth justice system.
The second part of this paper will draw on the work by the second author [Lambie, I. (2018). It’s never too early, never too late: A discussion paper on preventing youth offending in New Zealand. Auckland, NZ: Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Available from www.pmcsa.ac.nz.] and discuss how evidence based interventions are needed to assist in bringing about sustained long term change to the youth justice system and the challenges New Zealand faces in ‘doing’ as opposed to just ‘talking’.
Associate Professor Ian Lambie is Chief Science Advisor for the Justice Sector and an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Auckland