More than half of the youth offenders who have been through a
Government boot camp in an effort to curb their offending
have continued to get in trouble with the law, a report
Ten of 19 youths who reoffended after going through the
Military-Style Activity Camps (MAC) committed 126 offences
between them within six months of leaving the camp. The camps
are part of the Fresh Start Programme which takes 40 of the
most serious young offenders from the Youth Court each year.
The Ministry of Social Development released a report today
into the Fresh Start reforms, showing of the 31 people who
attended the camps in the past year, more than half
reoffended within six months.
Twelve did not reoffend after the camp.
The report showed youth offending in New Zealand had steadily
declined over the past 10 years.
A report found it was difficult to make accurate judgements
on the long-term impact of the camps.
"We need a large enough group of young people, who have been
out of MAC for a minimum of six months before we can monitor
how their behaviour has changed over time. Because MAC only
takes up to 40 young people per year, we do not yet have
enough data to make a statistically robust evaluation of MAC
Camps," the report found.
Rethinking Crime and Punishment director Kim Workman said the
camps were not effective, and the rate of reoffending was
likely to rise by up to 85 per cent.
"For serious offenders if you want to change their offending
behaviour, the camps are not going to make a difference in
Assistant Social Development Minister Chester Borrows said
there was no magic wand that could be waved to instantly fix
the problems with the country's most troubled young people.
"MACs are the last ditch attempt to turn these kids around
and stop them heading to adult prison and a life of crime,"
said Mr Borrows.
Prime Minister John Key was unavailable for comment on the
Figures released last year showed 53 per cent of youth
completing the camps had reoffended. Mr Key said last year it
was difficult to gauge the success of the programme because
it was "early days".
The eight-week camp involves a 6:20am wake-up call, uniforms,
chores, fitness activity, literacy and numeracy classes and,
if necessary, alcohol and drug rehabilitation.
The Fresh Start youth justice reforms were announced in 2009,
with a supporting legislative change in October 2010. The
reforms targeted serious and persistent youth offending
• Amending the Youth Court jurisdiction to include serious
offending by 12 and 13-year-olds.
• Extending the maximum length of Youth Court orders.
• Introducing Military-Style Activity Camps for the most
serious young offenders.
• Increasing the provision of supported bail, including a
wider geographical coverage.
• Increased parenting education for parents of young
offenders, and for young offenders who are themselves
• Increased mentoring placements for young offenders.
• Increased Alcohol and Other Drug treatment placements for