Recidivism Study Highlights Need For Reform
Press Release: ACT New Zealand– Social Welfare
Dr Muriel Newman
ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today said a report, that shows nearly two-thirds of recidivist offenders have demonstrated anti-social behaviour by the age of 13, highlights the urgent need for a reform of the welfare system and family law.
“The report, recently released under the Official Information Act, reveals that of the 150 inmates interviewed, 66 percent had demonstrated a pattern of anti-social behaviour before their thirteenth birthday, and, as a consequence, had come into early contact with police,” Dr Newman said.
“What this report doesn’t say is that the level of recidivism could’ve been reduced had early intervention occurred. Strong mentoring programmes working with at-risk families can turn lives around even before the children are born. Unfortunately, successive governments have paid lip service to such initiatives.
“Further, a significant factor in the lives of these recidivist offenders will be having been raised on welfare. Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that over 98,946 out of 200,000 Maori children in New Zealand today live in a benefit-dependent household. Many of these children will not have been brought up with a work ethic. Instead – according to the study – they will have learnt that criminal offending pays.
“Finally, anyone in the law enforcement area – whether police, judges or prison wardens – will testify the majority of recidivist offenders have lacked an ongoing relationship with their father. Statistics show that if present trends continue, by the year 2010, three-quarters of all Maori children will grow up in a family without a dad.
“No matter what worthwhile initiatives are introduced to try and turn around the lives of those who are significant criminal offenders, New Zealand will not become a safer place until we address the root causes of the problem – welfare reform and family law reform would be a great place to start,” Dr Newman said.