: Youth justice reforms

Youth justice reforms

James Farrell

The Queensland government has committed to reforming the youth justice system with the introduction of the trial of youth boot camps and the announcement of a review of the Youth Justice Act 1992 as part of the Government’s Six Month Action Plan (January to June 2013).

The government is developing a Blueprint for the Future of Youth Justice to ‘address concerns raised by community members and interested parties in the justice system while working within the context of the current fiscal environment.’

Strategies will be developed in line with the following themes:

  • boot camps
  • Youth Justice Act review
  • effective sentencing options
  • early intervention and diversion
  • responding to causes of crime
  • managing demand for youth justice services
  • improving youth detention services
  • effective non-government investment.

There are a number of strategies proposed that are likely to be ineffective in reducing crime or recidivism but which are focussed towards addressing community perceptions of crime rates, which are influenced by public debate rather than police statistics or other objective evidence. For example, the review of the Youth Justice Act will examine:

  • expanding the existing naming laws so that the names of repeat young offenders can be made public;
  • making breach of bail an offence to reduce the number of repeat young offenders;
  • allowing courts access to a person’s juvenile criminal history when sentencing them as an adult, so the court can see their full criminal history.

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has launched a public survey and discussion paper that will inform the development of the Blueprint.

Submissions are due before 30 June 2013, and more information is available at <http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/corporate/community-consultation/community-consultation-activities/current-activities/safer-streets-crime-action-plan-youth-justice>.

JAMES FARRELL is director of the Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 131
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