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Rethinking youth justice: there are alternatives to juvenile detention

Jodie O’Leary writes in The Conversation (4.8.16) about the revelations of mistreatment of youth in detention facilities in the Northern Territory, and argues how the ‘tough on crime’ approach of dealing with youth offenders, such as adopted by the previous Newman Government in Queensland, goes against the evidence of what works in terms of rehabilitation.

‘The recent exposure of the abuse inflicted on child detainees at the Don Dale facility in the Northern Territory has shone a much-needed light on youth justice in Australia.

‘Important questions are being asked about why these children were treated this way in detention. But we also need to ask why children are being detained at all.

‘… Alternatives to detention exist for those children who would otherwise be kept in detention pre-trial and for those who would otherwise be sentenced to detention.

‘There is no need for Australia to reinvent the wheel to find effective options. They can be adapted from options found in research from Europe, the US, New Zealand, and Western Australia. Many of these programs have had success in changing children’s behaviour and reducing recidivism.’

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