Queensland Law Society

QLS says youth justice reforms are not before time

The Queensland Government’s announcement of youth justice reforms is a welcome return to evidence-based policy, according to Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts.

Mr Potts said prior to last year’s election QLS called for a range of youth justice reforms and it was a credit to the Labor Palaszczuk Government those suggestions were taken on board.

“Those reforms included reinstating Youth Justice Conferencing and ending the automatic transfer of 17-years-olds to adult correctional facilities," Mr Potts said.

“Youth justice conferencing is particularly welcomed as the youth offender can meet their victims and realise the effect of their actions. It is a very valuable tool to change criminal behaviours.

“QLS’s call was based on evidence showing these reforms would reduce the rate of re-offending, which is the best possible outcome for all concerned.

“It is good to see that the government was listening.”

The comments follow Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath’s announcement of the introduction to parliament of the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.

She said the Bill was designed to reduce youth crime by putting offenders on a path away from further offending and involvement in the criminal justice system.

Mr Potts said that the previous government’s “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” approach cost Queensland taxpayers more and lead to higher re-offending rates.

“No-one is saying that young people shouldn’t be held responsible for their wrongdoing, but it is important that they are given the chance to atone for their actions and be rehabilitated," Mr Potts said.

“Keeping children out of the adult system and giving them the tools to turn their lives around is a win for all concerned; it will mean a bit less work around for criminal lawyers like me, but if these kids get back on track it is business I am happy to do without!”

ENDS

For further information, please contact Tony Keim on 07 3842 5835, mobile 0488 433 884 or via email, t.keim@qls.com.au.