In a letter sent this week, Youthlaw calls on all candidates to consider the critical youth justice issues leading up to and beyond the upcoming Victorian election.
We urge candidates to back Youthlaw’s platform and the realistic solutions and evidence of what works to support all young people to have the opportunity to realise their potential.
We highlight the disturbing statistic that 60% of young people in child prisons are from communities that are significantly disadvantaged, dislocated and often excluded.
We stress that it is imperative that our leaders are vocal in their condemnation of growing racial abuse directed at these communities.
We emphasise the need to assist a significant and growing number of vulnerable young people across Victoria and address disadvantage and exclusion of their communities.
We also highlight the substantial increase in youth and adult prison numbers over the past 10 years and the high return rate to prison.
We remind candidates that prison is largely ineffective and very costly and that building more prisons is clearly unsustainable.
We call for a solution that redirects investment in prisons toward community-based initiatives that deal with the underlying causes of crime. Justice reinvestment is an internationally proven approach that builds community capacity, reduces crime, and saves taxpayer’s money.
We caution candidates about the harms of introducing harsh laws to deal with a small but high offending cohort of young people in Victoria. Laws that reverse the onus of bail and bring in mandatory sentencing for example will have unintended impacts & net widen, bringing more young Victorians in contact wit the criminal justice system.
We call on candidates to commit to scrutinising all laws that negatively impact on young people & uphold their human rights.
We also call on all candidates to publicly support increased independent investigation of police complaints and the resourcing and implementation of the IBAC committee’s recommendations.