Kid’s Doing Time

An insightful documentary was aired a few weeks ago on the ABC program “Four Corners” called “Kid’s Doing Time”. It deals with the fact that the NSW Juvenile Justice System is in crisis.

This has been partly due to the  State government’s “get tough on crime” policy which usually wins many votes in an election but does little to reduce the rate of crime and in turn promote positive rehabilitation for present offenders.

Instead, young people can end up being condemned to an eternal life in gaol because there are not enough effective rehabilitation programs to help reform offenders to integrate them back into society to lead a productive life.

The irony is that it costs thousands of dollars more to keep many of these juvenile offenders locked up, then it is to put them through an often effective rehabilitation program.   For instance it costs $150 000— per year to keep a juvenile in detention.  Whereas it costs only about $2000— to put a child through an effective rehabilitation program which are often run by NGOs.  The child is then able to integrate back into society to lead a productive life.

The success rate of these rehabilitation programs which aim to redirect the lives of young people to positive and constructive outcomes, has been shown to be extremely successful as well. Some programs show even a 95% result,  that young people completing these programs do not re-affend again.

Naturally each young person has to be assessed carefully whether he or she is suitable for these programs.  One  young offender interviewed, expressed that he would like to reform his life and change, but there is very little support and training to show him how.  Many of these offenders have come from highly dysfunctional families or families with no parents.

This reminds me of the events in the famous novel by Victor Hugo that eventually became the stage musical “Le Miserables” .  This is where a convict who served 18 years in prison doing hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread,  eventually reformed his ways to lead a godly life because of the undeserved mercy he was shown by a godly priest.     If he had continued to be condemned and treated like a criminal,  he would more likely have continued in his criminal ways.

This is similar to the mercy and love God, extends to all of us.  He does not treat us as our sins deserve.  Instead through Jesus’ death He forgives us and gives us his love strength and guidance to reform ourselves gradually into new people.

Perhaps the government needs to consider more seriously the effectiveness of these successful rehabilitation schemes when working out a better long term strategy and funding plan for the  present justice system.

For  a more detailed summary of the whole program “Kid’s Doing Time” click on the following link :-

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2009/s2662775.htm

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