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Elise Archer Should Know Prison is No Place for a Child

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Tags: Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Youth Justice, Tasmanian Aboriginals

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

Tasmania’s Attorney General, Elise Archer, chaired a meeting of her federal, state and territory counterparts yesterday which again failed Australian children.

The Council of Attorneys General meeting made the collective decision to keep sending children as young as ten to prison.

The Australian Medical Association, Amnesty International, the Tasmanian Council of Social Services, the Human Rights Law Centre are among a range of key stakeholders who have been pressing governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.

The evidence is overwhelming that sending children to jail increases lifelong harm and early death.  It also significantly increases the likelihood of repeat offending and incarceration in adult prisons.

In Tasmania, as in every other state and territory, children under the age of 14 are being sentenced to imprisonment at Ashley Youth Detention Centre.  Ashley is too often a one-way ticket to Risdon.

There are alternatives that provide better pathways for young offenders and keep the community safer.

In Scandinavian countries, for example, the age of criminal responsibility is set at 15 years.  Juvenile offenders under that age are dealt with by child welfare agencies, with a focus on a therapeutic rather than punitive response.

Minister Archer needs to explain herself.  Why did she join her counterparts in rejecting the pleas of experts to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years?

Why does the Tasmanian Attorney General think it’s acceptable to send children to prison?