Youth Crime gets tougher penalties as Legislative amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992

The Palaszczuk government has unveiled its latest round of measures to disrupt the path to more serious crime among young offenders.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the introduction to parliament of the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 is designed to reduce youth crime by putting offenders on a path away from further offending and involvement in the criminal justice system.

“This Bill fulfils the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitment to repeal amendments made in 2014, and to reinstate court-referred youth justice conferencing,” said Mrs D’Ath.

“The changes made by the Newman government were claimed to be about being tough on crime by targeting young offenders.”

“However youth justice data shows the proportion of young people who re-offend within six months of being found guilty has been rising.”

Labor’s changes will:

Reinstate court powers to refer an offence to a youth justice conference.

Close to the public youth justice matters in the lower court;

End the automatic transfer of 17 year olds to adult corrections;

“These measures are about moving to a youth justice system that is based on evidence and balance,” said Mrs D’Ath.

“For example, they contain provisions for victims or their representatives to be present in a closed court.”

The Bill will also increase from 17 to 18 the age at which young people, who have at least six months to serve in detention, are transferred to an adult correctional facility.

“The safety of youth detention centres is paramount, and to that end this legislation provides a cap of 18 years and six months after which an offender will not be able to enter a youth detention centre to begin serving, or return to complete serving a period of detention,” said Mrs D’Ath.

“Long standing provisions for more serious indictable offences to be heard in open court before a judge will continue, and Police powers of arrest and prosecution will be enhanced through the provision of new sentencing options.”

The Palaszczuk Government will also deliver better court-referred conferencing and give courts greater flexibility to deliver diversionary and restorative sentencing options.

“Evidenced shows a restorative justice process offers direct benefits to victims, such as a reduction of post-traumatic stress symptoms and desire for violent revenge,” said Mrs D’Ath.

“Conferencing can have a positive impact by reducing a young person’s likelihood of re-offending, and research shows restorative justice is most effective when it is legislated as a required consideration, rather than simply being an option.”

“These measures will help protect our community by requiring young people to accept responsibility for their actions and behaviours, and to understand that changing that behaviour is the only way to get their lives back on track.”


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