Locking up young people without charge “absurd & illegal” says national youth peak

Young people with criminal records in Alice Springs should not be subjected to the strategy suggested today by Northern Territory minister Adam Giles – to detain them without charge – as it is discriminatory against Aboriginal young people and illegal, says the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC).

Minister Giles’ suggestion today that recidivist offenders should be taken off the streets as soon as possible and placed in custody or other forms of detention until alternative measures can be found has been roundly rejected by AYAC.

AYAC Acting Executive Director, Reynato Reodica said, “The responses by the Northern Territory government are now going from the outrageous to the absurd.”

“We have legal systems in place to ensure that offenders are dealt with according to the presumption of innocence and the punishment fitting the crime.  This proposal turns the entire system upside down, racially discriminates against Aboriginal young people and would be illegal if implemented.”

“Detention should only be an option of last resort for young people, when early intervention and diversionary methods have been properly tested – and only where a specific punishment is linked to a specific crime”, Mr Reodica said.

A wide body of evidence shows that what works for young offenders are crime prevention strategies that properly address the underlying causes of offending and that offer long-term strategies around behaviour management.

“There are no silver bullets to prevent juvenile crime but these kind of knee jerk policies – like youth curfews, boot camps or incarceration without charge, are far too short-term and short-sighted to deliver any kind of reduction in youth crime rates,” Mr Reodica said.

The causes of juvenile crime stem from youth disadvantages such as physical and mental health problems, drug and alcohol addictions, and care and protection experiences.

“AYAC recognises that incarceration does not reduce offending and may even increase the risk. It’s ridiculous and unfair to treat young people in this way.”

Additional information:

The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) is the national voice for young people and the youth affairs sector. AYAC’s vision is for an Australia in which young people are informed, empowered, encouraged and supported to participate in their communities

www.ayac.org.au

Media enquiries: Reynato Reodica, Acting Executive Director, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition  P: 02 9212 0500 | M: 0416 929 252