Converse View of Youth Bail Laws in Queensland
There has been continuing coverage in the media of the “communities view” for stricter bail laws for youth offenders. This is in response to what has been described as an increase in youths committing offences whilst on bail.
The youth crime bail laws in Queensland have been amended to reintroduce breach of bail as an offence capable of being committed by children. There has also been the introduction of an electronic monitoring device for children as young as 15 years of age. These amendments were all met with criticism from human rights advocates and those in the criminal defence space, saying these amendments are not going to solve the problem faced by parliament.
The effects of incarcerating more youths were felt in Western Australia, where an investigation revealed unsettling findings that three young detainees were subjected to unfair conditions whilst in custody. This included extended time in solitary confinement and unlawful lockdowns.
This issue will only continue to increase if youth bail laws harshen and more youths are to be remanded in custody.
There are consistent complaints by prisoners already in Queensland as to the overcrowding of correctional centres, and subjecting to youths to similar conditions in custody can only have debilitating effects on their risk of recidivism.
The approach to youth bail laws must be carefully considered and must be framed with a view of addressing offending behaviour and reducing recidivism into adult life, rather than focussing on punishment.