19 Aug OUTBACK IS OPEN TO TAKE YOUTH OFFENDERS: KAP
Cleveland Youth Detention Centre may be full but the Queensland outback is open and ready to accept and sort out repeat offenders as part of Katter’s Australian Party’s (KAP) innovative Relocation Sentencing Policy.
Spurred on by news today that North Queensland’s only dedicated youth detention facility is bursting at its seams, KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said out bush was the only suitable place for these displaced kids to go.
He has once again urged the Palaszczuk Labor Government to urgently fund a pilot trial of the Relocation Sentencing policy.
This approach would offer sentencing magistrates and judges the option to immediately send youth offenders to a remote, rehabilitative-focused facility, such as at Kajabbi which is 800 kilometres west of Townsville.
“The need has never been greater in North Queensland for innovative policy shifts that once-and-for-all address the relentless crime issues plaguing our communities,” Mr Katter said.
“Today we have learned that more than 15 youths are sitting in police watchhouses because they can’t be accommodated by the current system.
“I can guarantee you the communities of the North, whether in Townsville, Cairns or Mount Isa, will not accept these overcrowding issues as an excuse for returning the kids to the streets.”
Mr Katter said the fact so many kids were languishing in watch houses, subsequently stretching precious police resources, was further evidence of the State’s revolving door approach to juvenile justice.
“What we are seeing repeatedly in juvenile justice in Queensland is a useless and vicious cycle: the kids offend, they’re sent to Cleveland because they are an unacceptable risk to our communities, they’re released as soon as the legislation allows and then they re-offend and are returned,” he said.
“No wonder there are never enough beds, the same kids just keep coming back; you might as well not even change their sheets.”
Today the Townsville Bulletin reported that 16 children were being housed in watch houses between Townsville, Mount Isa and Cairns as of Monday afternoon after an influx of teenagers were arrested over the last week.
The paper said that in the last three days, six juveniles were charged over a raft of violent crimes, including carjackings and armed robberies in Townsville.
Mr Katter said the high rate of arrests were good news, and acknowledged the strong police response, but said it was as soon as the offenders engaged with the court system that the wheels fell off the wagon.
“How much clearer can it be to our communities that the current approaches are not working – detention is simply a holiday for these hardened offenders or a chance for them to criminally indoctrinate those who are younger or more vulnerable,” he said.
“We need to get these kids out of town on a long-term basis and away from the influences that led to their criminality.
“Then we need to engage them in opportunities, educations and programs that give them a genuine shot at a future.”