The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

Some­times politi­cians have daft ideas. The Na­tional Party is propos­ing to round up New Zealand’s worst young crim­i­nals and train them to think and act like sol­diers.

The over­whelm­ing weight of re­search into mil­i­tary-styled cor­rec­tions pro­grammes shows they don’t re­duce re­of­fend­ing rates. So, the end re­sult of the pro­posed scheme will prob­a­bly be fight­ing-fit of­fend­ers with a set of new skills they can use to fur­ther their lives of crime.

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English says the scheme would tar­get about 150 young peo­ple who have shown no will­ing­ness or abil­ity to change their crim­i­nal be­hav­iour – ‘‘the tough­est kids with the worst records’’. Of those, 50 a year would spend 12 months at a spe­cial fa­cil­ity at Waiouru Mil­i­tary Camp. These are chil­dren aged be­tween 14 and 17 who have com­mit­ted very se­ri­ous of­fences, in­clud­ing rape and mur­der.

See­ing young crim­i­nals in uni­form will ap­peal to some Na­tional (and NZ First) vot­ers who re­mem­ber com­pul­sory mil­i­tary train­ing. It’s the sort of pol­icy we can ex­pect to sur­face a few weeks out from an elec­tion.

Com­pul­sory mil­i­tary ser­vice as a pun­ish­ment, to com­pen­sate for fail­ures in the youth jus­tice sys­tem, has never worked, and it never will.

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