Won’t rising the Youth Court age to 20 mean that gangs will get their younger members or those wanting to become gang members to do the crime because they will get a lighter sentence if caught?
The Youth Court is already able to transfer a young person to the District Court if it judges that that is the more appropriate court for them. This aspect of the Youth Court remains in place under The Opportunities Party’s policy to raise the Youth Court age to 20.
Regardless of the crime, it is usually better for the community if that young person goes before the Youth Court and is exposed to its more rehabilitative focus. If the Youth Courth can make a difference at that point in the person’s young life and disentangle them from the gangs, it will have a huge positive effect for the rest of their lives (and result in significant long-term savings to the community).
Conversely, if they go to prison they are far more likely to reoffend. A follow up study of almost 5000 offenders released from New Zealand prisons in 2002/03 found that within 5
years, 88% of those under 20 years of age and 82% of those 20-24 years of age, had reoffended.
 Nadesu, Arul. (2009) Reconviction patterns of released prisoners: A 60-months follow-up analysis. Department of Corrections.