Saturday, February 5, 2011

Teen Hoon Evades Jail Term

Responding to community outrage at a soft sentence handed down to a teenage hoon, Court Magistrate, Elspeth McLeod argued that intervention was more effective than a custodial sentence in reducing crime and repeat delinquency in chronic juvenile offenders. She explained that the lynch pin of the program was placing youths with committed mentors willing to provide training and supervision. 

During the twelve years Mrs. McLeod has been involved with the mentoring program, she stated that she was pleased with the willingness of business people from all walks of life to take part.  ‘You see we didn’t want to set up boot camps where the emphasis is on discipline and punishment. Our idea was to isolate the offender from other delinquents and place them in challenging situations.’

She went on to talk about a tuna fisherman who takes on teens as deckhands and a mining company that provides dump truck driving training. ‘The mentoring program is something of a family institution, she revealed. ‘My own son owns sheep stations and he's trained more than a dozen boys as jackeroos.’  

Mrs. McLeod countered criticism that the program rewards offenders by sending them off on a free holiday at the taxpayer’s expense quoting from studies to show that for every dollar spent on intervention, the government saved $20 in criminal justice and victim costs. 'In the long-run intervention programs are more cost effective than custodial sentences or probation. We follow up all the participants and a year out of the program 76% have no criminal referrals.'

Intervention programs appears to have the potential for providing young offenders who have criminal records with an opportunity to turn their lives around and at the same time and at the same time save the community huge amounts in the punitive system and victim costs.  Rather than being scaled back Mrs. McLeod would like to see the scheme expanded but admits there are not enough mentors to cope with the increasing demand. ‘Not everyone who applies is accepted but those that are, have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve made a positive impact on a young person’s life.

In The Biocide Conspiracy by Ann Massey, Geronimo (Mo) Jones is the young hoon mentioned in the new article. None too thrilled with his new life as a jackeroo on a sheep station on an isolated sheep station on the edge of The Great Sandy Desert, he has to stick it out for 6 months by order of the Juvenile Justice Department.

Ann Massey
Author of:
The White Amah, a mystery set against the backdrop of the timber logging industry in Malaysia. Sample or purchase: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1456578065
The Biocide Conspiracy, a Young Adult thriller that sweeps readers into the world of biowarfare. Sample or purchase; http://www.amazon.com/dp/1456503367

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