Five changes to Youth Justice Act govt needs to make
TOWNSVILLE has been suffering under the weight of a crime crisis for too long.
Something must be done now to save the lives that could be lost if the city continues to bear the brunt of inadequate youth justice laws.
The Townsville Bulletin has long pushed for change, helping the community and politicians share their ideal version of the Youth Justice Act. As the community once again endures the pain of another fatal crash on our roads, which has links to a stolen car, the Bulletin is proposing a plan for change.
Even after the death of Jennifer Board in a fatal crash, another six cars were stolen from Saturday night to Sunday morning, with some found burnt out around the city. There were another 15 house break-ins, with one of those into Jennifer's home.
The Bulletin is calling for five things that could help turn the city's crime problem around:
MANDATORY sentencing for young offenders;
A DEFINITION of serious offender to make it clear the court system meets community expectations;
A DEFINITION of unacceptable risk to make it clear who should and should not be released into the community;
A GRADING scale of crime, for example what is a serious offence? What should apply to a first, and second time offender? and,
TOTAL review into the departments of housing, families and child safety, communities and youth justice.
These five things will strengthen the Youth Justice Act to make it a clearer guideline for the courts to follow.
Magistrates, judges and justices will no longer question what an unacceptable risk is or what makes a serious offender.
In June 2020, the state government strengthened the youth bail laws, changing the legislation to say if an offender was a risk to the community, they must not get bail.
But the change did not go far enough. Townsville, and many other parts of the state, have continued to weather the youth crime storm.
Last week, in the wake of the alleged murder of Kate Leadbetter and Matthew Field in Brisbane, Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said she would put forward suggestions to change the laws.
Ms Carroll vented her frustration over a core group of repeat offenders who keep walking free.
"We're always opposing bail for (them), we're always before court for (them) and we're always arresting," she said.
"I wish more were actually put in custody and remain in custody, because we are finding that very difficult … It is very frustrating."
She said police across the state were doing everything they could to put these kids before the court.
Originally published as Five changes to Youth Justice Act the government needs to make