Duncan Garner: Send troubled youths to the army, not jail

Opinion 27/05/2019

One-hundred and forty young people are, right now, waking up in one of our youth justice facilities.

Most of them - 80 percent - are on remand and have yet to be sentenced for anything.

Nothing has been proven, yet they're thrown into these jails, and these places breed criminals. They breed tougher despite the efforts of staff who are literally taking a step forward and two back.

We are talking about New Zealand's problem teenagers.

You don't end up there for nothing - you have been violent and you are in trouble.

Families have also let these kids down - absent parents, poor parents who could only rule with an iron fist, and a wooden broom.

They have been let down many times.

Also, they have let society down by doing something silly and this is their punishment.

But Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says they don't work, and these kids should be cared for in the community to stop the rot - to stop them graduating to bigger jails and bigger crimes.

I think the public will be wary of such claims.

Soft? Liberal? No thanks. Teach them a lesson you may say, and yes some of these boys do need to be locked up, but not all.

So I have a plan. It's old fashioned but we need to send every child who enters those youth prisons to the army for a six month boot camp; show them what discipline and boundaries are really about, which is surely better than a gang life which awaits.

Let's see how tough they are.

They get a bad wrap these boot camps, but I think the results will surprise some.

Let's take the risk and do something different, and sort them out the army way.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.