The Queensland government is trying to rush through a set of harmful amendments to the Youth Justice Act that will see more kids than ever be sent to prison.
Among the “tough on repeat offenders” amendments are the introduction of GPS trackers and seeking to create a presumption against bail.
What this means is that instead of getting the support that they need to live happy and healthy lives, Queenslander kids are going to end up in prison. And once they’re there, we know that they’re likely to be stuck there in the quicksand of the justice system.
Why is Premier Palaszczuk doing this? The government and opposition are on a unity ticket whipping up fear around a so-called youth crime crisis. They’re wrong: youth crime in Queensland has actually decreased and is at the lowest rate it has been since records began.
We know what addresses youth crime. It’s well-resourced, Indigenous-led diversion and prevention programs that address the underlying causes of crime. By working on the causes – including racism, poverty, and poor health – we can give these kids a real chance at living a happy, healthy life.
Instead of rushing through these harmful laws, Palaszczuk should be focussing on the pressing issues, like getting little kids out of prison by raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from ten to at least fourteen.