QLS welcomes move to remove 17-year-olds from adult prisons

Christine Smyth

Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth today (Monday September 18) welcomed the state government’s announcement that it will begin removing 17-year-old offenders from the adult criminal justice system.

“Queensland Law Society has advocated strongly for this reform, and called for the major parties to commit to it in the lead-up to the last election,” Ms Smyth said.

“The then opposition Labour party committed to this reform, and it is pleasing to see that they are honouring the promise they made to the Society; adult prison is no place for a child.”

President Smyth said that the damage done to juvenile offenders when exposed to hardened criminals is hard to reverse and often leads to a greater chance of re-offending.

“Juvenile offenders have a great chance of rehabilitation if given the opportunity, but being forced to survive in the harsh word of adult offenders reduces those chances markedly,” she said.

The President said that although the reform was welcome, it was a good start, not the final chapter.

“The Society is pushing for significant reform in the Youth Justice space, to ensure that the focus is on preventing crime before it happens rather than punishing it after the event,’’ Ms Smyth said.

“Many issues-for example, the staggering over-representation of indigenous Australians in the prison system, at all age levels-need to be addressed urgently.

“I will continue to advocate for just and workable laws that both protect the community and allow for the rehabilitation of young offenders.”

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