Queensland Law Society

Jail for minors a major problem

Date 08 Dec 2011
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communication
Phone (07) 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Fax 07 3221 9329
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society and the Youth Advocacy Centre have called on major political parties to promise an end to jailing 17-year-olds in adult correctional facilities.

The call to action comes in the lead-up to the State election and both organisations said it’s a priority legal issue of major social concern.

Society president Bruce Doyle said the practice in Queensland of locking up minors with hardened criminals was appalling and increased a number of community risks.

“17-year-olds are adversely affected by older offenders in prison,” Mr Doyle said.

“They are cast into prison for relatively minor offences and then come out with a criminal trade.

“Efforts should be directed towards re-integrating these kids into their communities through rehabilitation and youth-specific programs.

“Recently we presented 11 legal profession issues to the LNP, ALP, KAP and Greens, of which this is one of the highest priorities, and strongly recommend the parties commit to reform on this issue.”

Youth Advocacy Centre director Cristy Dieckmann said they helped support many young people who have benefited from going through the juvenile rather than adult system.

“The outcome is a win for community safety and a win for those young people and their families.

“People may blindly demand a ‘tough on crime’ approach but at what cost?” Ms Dieckmann said.

“Young people at 17 years of age are losing the right to have a support person in a police interview, and their parents may not even be told of the interaction with the criminal justice system.

“The ultimate irony is they do not have the rights of adults in the other areas of the law.

“We’ve launched our Castaway Campaign to increase community awareness of this issue and advocate for law reform.”

Queensland is the only Australian state or territory in Australia where 17-year-olds are treated as adults rather than children in the justice system, in direct violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.