In its report, Insights from the coalface: The value of justice reinvestment for young Australians, AYAC condemned an overuse of jail by courts and by state justice agencies, which was failing to reduce criminal behaviour, and which signified the failure of youth justice policy, past and present.
The report points to evidence of a rise in juvenile incarceration since 2004, and a jump in the number of young people on remand. There was also a critical lack of services available for crime prevention, early intervention and diversionary measures for young people, particularly in rural and remote areas. It costs more than $600 a day to keep a young person in youth detention – almost double the cost of adult detention.
AYAC calls for policy to reflect the extensive knowledge and good practice of the sector, and to ensure incarceration and remand is not the affliction of our most disadvantaged. AYAC wants to see marginalised young people getting the right support prior to contact with the justice system, rather than bearing the brunt of ‘tough on crime’ policies.
The Justice Reinvestment approach is being used in Australia by some services to great effect. However, the current climate in Australia means that most of these services, while doing important work, are piecemeal, under-resourced, and targeted at specific needs, as opposed to the comprehensive, coordinated Justice Reinvestment approach.
The report is available for download from the AYAC website: http://www.ayac.org.au/news/230/67/The-value-of-justice-reinvestment-for-young-Australians.html
(Source: Youth Field Xpress, 22 May 2013.)