Joy Burch has announced more handholding and less time in detention for Canberra’s young offenders.
Ms Burch today handed down the ACT Government’s interim response to its community consultation on developing a Diversion Framework for the youth justice system, and outlined the Government’s plans to expand sentencing options for young people and improve bail services to reduce the incidence of remand.
“The changes I am proposing today will create better continuity of support for young people in contact with the juvenile justice system,” Ms Burch said.
“We will achieve that through a single case management unit for all young offenders that will create more stable relationships between case managers and the people they work with.”
Ms Burch said that this would merge the existing detention-based and community youth justice-based case management systems so that one case manager was responsible for each young person throughout their contact with the youth justice system.
“One case manager will link the young person with support services and programs, so that the support that starts before, during and after detention continues with the same provider.”
Ms Burch said that this model would be enhanced by establishing a system of parole for young people in juvenile detention. While the granting of non-parole and parole periods is available to ACT judicial officers when sentencing adult offenders, this discretion is not available when sentencing minors.
“It is important that judicial officers have the same flexibility and discretion when sentencing minors so that there is an added incentive for young people to participate in rehabilitation and education programs while in custody, and potentially minimise the time they spend in custody.
When one considers the overwhelming victims of youth crime are other youth this hardly does a service to Canberra’s young people.
Poor impulse control combined with the natural bad risk assessment of youth rarely responds well to flexibility and discretion.