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Bail houses scrapped, 'young thugs' sent to farms in LNP justice plan

Politics

Queensland magistrates would be forced to detain children for their third offence, while young offenders would be sent to farms and bail houses ditched under a Liberal National Party government.

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The party would also fund grants for “justice reinvestment” under a two-year trial and introduce a law to take in offences committed by children if they are sentenced in court as adults.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington says “young thugs” won’t be the norm if Queenslanders elect her party to government in October.

“The only way to solve the youth crime crisis is to change the government,” she said.

However, Professor Kerry Carrington, head of the Queensland University of Technology’s School of Justice, said elements of the plan breached the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The policy would have the opposite effect of reducing crime and instead funnel children into the criminal legal system and keep those already in detention there for longer, Professor Carrington warned.

“All these measures disproportionately impact Indigenous people, and children and young people from really disadvantaged backgrounds,” she added.

Carrington said significant investment in measures to reduce poverty and closing the health and life expectancy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians were more effective.

The LNP wants to strip away the principle of detention as a last resort for children committing crimes and reintroduce breach of bail as an offence.

That would contradict the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Australia is a signatory, Carrington said.

It also wants to legislate for courts to recognise crimes adults committed when they were children, even if a conviction was not recorded.

But Carrington said juvenile and adult justice systems are purposely divided to give adolescents a second chance, with the majority of them growing out of troublesome behaviour.

Young people on bail or other court orders would be watched around the clock by youth justice department officials under the LNP plan, and detention would be mandatory for those convicted for the third time.

The LNP’s plan includes sending kids who have been in detention to what it dubs a “Community Payback Farm”.

Five properties across the state will take children through “culturally appropriate” skills training programs, with elder mentoring to teach them to take ownership of their actions.

Youth bail houses would be scrapped and $7 million in grants set aside in a two year trial for non-government organisations offering justice reinvestment – alternative programs aimed at stopping recidivism.

-AAP

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