SEVENTEEN-year-old Queensland prisoners should be spared the fate of being locked up in the same prisons as adult offenders, a Catholic prison ministry worker said.
The worker, who cannot be named, said even though 17-year-old prisoners were not in the same area of some prisons as adult offenders, they could still see other inmates and were housed in similar blocks.
The worker’s call for changes comes after the Queensland Government decided the planned review of the State’s Juvenile Justice Act later this year would not canvass opinion on the status of 17-year-olds within the criminal justice system.
Queensland is the only state or territory in Australia to imprison 17-year-olds with adults, which is inconsistent with UN Convention of the rights of a child, which states 17-year-olds are to be treated as children.
Communities Minister Warren Pitt said the government had considered whether a change was required in the treatment of 17-year-olds charged with offences committed after they turned 17, but had decided the status quo would continue.
The prison ministry worker said other countries had prisons just for youth offenders where they were retrained and the roots of their problems were addressed.
“How much is a government going to save if it can keep these people from reoffending over the next 30 years.”
Centacare pastoral services director Fr John Chalmers said 17-year-old should be kept out of adult prisons.
Fr Chalmers said the Queensland Government was spending millions on capital campaigns for prisons, but little on rehabilitation.
He said he was supportive of keeping children out of the harsh realities of adult prisons.
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