The Ram Raid Offending and Related Measures Amendment Bill if passed by Government will have a long lasting devastating impact on mokopuna Māori, says Mana Mokopuna Chief Children’s Commissioner Judge Frances Eivers.
Submissions on the bill which closed last week has added ram raids to the Crimes Act, punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
This effectively gives police the power to prosecute children as young as 12.
“Let’s remember the mokopuna at the centre of these discussions and invest in solutions to youth offending that work,” Judge Eivers said.
“Most children who come into the youth justice system have come from backgrounds of trauma and disadvantage and have complex needs.
“When children go through court proceedings at such a formative age, it risks tangling them in the wider net of the criminal justice system, risking further harm to their wellbeing and to their future.
“The evidence shows us, time and again, that the system is simply a pipeline to prison, and mokopuna Māori, Pacific and disabled children are consistently overrepresented at every level. I truly believe a criminal response is not a solution.”
Judge Eivers says programmes like Kotahi te Whakaaro in Manurewa, an early intervention programme involving government, iwi, community and youth organisations working together at speed to provide intensive support to mokopuna and their whānau, is far more successful than punitive legislation.
Claudette Hauiti, Waatea.News.Com