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Youth At Risk Strategy Undermined by 'Tough on Crime' Liberals

7 Jun 2017

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens' Leader and Human Services spokesperson 

The Tasmanian Greens welcome the belated release of the government's Youth at Risk Strategy.  It contains a strong foundation for improving the lives of young Tasmanians, but risks being undone by the Liberals' 'tough on crime' policies that will drive more young Tasmanians into the youth justice and adult corrections' system.

The strategy is compromised by the Liberals' flawed, populist sentencing policies and a failed detention model for young offenders.

The Hodgman Government is dragging its heels on reforms to Ashley, and clearly have no intention of replacing this failed detention centre with a model that follows contemporary social expectations and is consistent with expert knowledge on criminal reform.

The abolition out of suspended sentences and swathe of knee-jerk, electioneering mandatory sentencing policies will all work towards creating first time offenders who, once they are in the youth justice or adult corrections' system, are at higher risk of becoming hardened criminals.

While the expansion of drug treatment orders is welcome, the funding to back it up is not enough to meet current demand, let alone expanded capacity.

Drug treatment orders are also not available to youth, due in part to the lack of available youth-specific rehabilitation facilities.

As all the evidence tells us, binge drinking and illicit drug use makes offending and entry to the corrections' system far more likely.

It is not good enough to just intervene before an at-risk youth engages with the justice system.

At every stage of the justice continuum we need to make sure we are working towards ensuring the young person does not become a hardened offender.  These are the approaches that make our community safer.

As far as this Government is concerned, as soon as someone offends their future should be in the hands of the Liberals, not the courts.

Unfortunately for those who have invested in a good, evidence based youth at risk strategy, the Liberals are blind to the evidence base of reformist justice, and their only answer is an eye for an eye.