Concern about young people transferred to adult prisons

Concern about young people transferred to adult prisons

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Reports of young people being transferred out of specialised youth detention facilities and into adult prisons is a worrying development in the treatment of youth offenders in Victoria. Acting Executive Director, Criminal Law Dan Nicholson says he is concerned about reports of young people being moved into adult prisons.

'This is a significant and concerning step in the management of youth offenders which ultimately may not make the community safer,’ Mr Nicholson said. 

'We know that young people have unique behaviours and needs which differ from adults. They require responses that focus primarily on rehabilitation, such as having access to education and other therapeutic programs. This is what is available in Youth Justice facilities. We’re concerned that an adult prison will not be able to provide an appropriate environment for young people.

'We have always been very clear that young people should not be put in facilities which are not designed for them, or be subjected to arrangements that do not meet their therapeutic needs.

'If holding a young person to account is to have a lasting and beneficial impact – both on that young person and in the community – we need to focus our efforts on addressing the causes of offending and preparing them to re-integrate successfully into the community. 

'While we appreciate the challenges in managing some young offenders in Youth Justice facilities and in ensuring the safety of staff and other detainees, the decision to transfer to adult prison should be a matter of last resort and should be undertaken following a careful process.

'At present the process to move a young person involves an application to the Youth Parole Board by recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Justice and Regulation. When a young person appears before the youth parole board in these applications they aren’t represented by their lawyer, so there is concern that they may not fully understand the application or the full consequences of the transfer and have limited capacity to effectively engage in the process.'

Media enquiries 

If you have media enquiry, please contact Acting Associate Director Strategic Communications, Jasmine Fiegehen on 0416 922 229 or email jasmine.fiegehen@vla.vic.gov.au