Adult prison is no place for kids, youth advocates say

April 06, 2017 |

Adult prison is no place for kids. It’s pretty straightforward, say 21 community organisations and youth advocates in a video released today.

Their message follows revelations of harsh regimes and systemic mistreatment of children in youth justice across Australia, with experts slamming the inhumane and ineffective practices uncovered.

‘Most kids in custody endured trauma and abuse long before coming in contact with the justice system,’ Convener of Smart Justice for Young People, Tiffany Overall said.

‘Locking them up sends the wrong message – that when communities fail to protect vulnerable kids, we can simply blame the children and wash our hands of the consequences.’

Within existing punitive systems, children with histories of abuse and neglect often leave custody more traumatized than when they entered.

‘It makes no sense to double-down on something that doesn’t work and makes us less safe,’ Ms Overall said.

Advocates say communities should focus on keeping kids away from prisons, not entrenching them in the system.

‘There are alternatives to locking up kids, which should be used wherever possible,’ Ms Overall said.

‘In cases where a young person must spend time removed from the community, they should be placed in suitably secure youth justice facilities, not adult jails that make the problem worse.’

‘Adult prison is no place for kids.’

For further comment, contact:
Abby McCarthy
0458 131 517
Mediacomms@youthalw.asn.au

or Tiffany Overall
0400 903 034
tiffany@youthlaw.asn.au

View the video on YouTube.
Credit: Ryan Sheales, Victorian Council of Social Service.