Articles:

The Difficulties Associated With The Incarceration Of Children 

Juvenile detention

Australia’s harsh juvenile detention regime was in the spotlight again last week, with a report from the Banksia Hill juvenile facility in Perth, showing that about 100 of the cells were damaged so badly, they cannot be used.

The centre has a capacity for about 250 inmates – almost half of the centre is not able to be used. And so again, we’re faced with a round of parliamentary and media debates about why these juveniles are locked in detention and are not having their (very complex in many cases) needs met.

Youth advocates say that the damage being done inside Banksia Hill is simply an expression of the pressure these young people are under.

Vandalism, broken toilets, smashed walls

Beds, toilets, communications equipment and even walls between cells have been pulled apart, torn down, graffitied on, or destroyed. A 14-year-old boy who played a leading role in a riot at the facility last year was charged with criminal damage after he climbed onto the roof in protest and allegedly proceeded to damage air conditioners, windows and aerial antennas. 

However, the court heard that the young man had spent 23 hours a day in the ISU (Intensive Support Unit) during his five month stint at Banksia Hill and the confinement had taken its toll. In this context, the young man’s actions are not difficult to understand.

The entire WA youth justice system is coming under mounting pressure, with recent figures showing that youth crime rates are rising. More than three hundred juvenile offenders were arrested in the region in 2021 and 163 already arrested so far this year. 

Children as young as 10years old are locked up

Australia already has one of the highest rates of juvenile incarceration in the world because in most states children as young as 10 years old are held responsible for their crimes. 

Figures also show that the highest proportion of juvenile offenders in detention are indigenous. Often they are youths who come from seriously disadvantaged backgrounds, and suffer from intergenerational poverty, substance abuse, little to no education, and often undiagnosed learning or mental health disorders.

While criminal offending isn’t acceptable and young people who break the law should be held accountable, locking youths up is not always the answer.

Most psychologists agree that if given the right tools, resources, psychological assistance and nurturing, young people who break the law do have a good chance to turn their lives around and that locking them up, away from family, friends and the community does more harm than good.

Did we learn anything from Don Dale?

All of these issues were highlighted by abuses conducted at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in the Northern Territory. Footage from the detention centre, and which was eventually aired on national television, showed teenage boys being tear-gassed, hooded, threatened, restrained and held in solitary confinement for more than a fortnight.

The systemic mistreatment of young people at the facility led to a Royal Commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory. The Royal Commission report recommended a move towards prevention, diversion and rehabilitation, and the raising of the age of criminal responsibility, and at the time, a good number of politicians, commentators, and youth advocates suggested that these recommendations be implemented across the nation, in order to stop the institutionalisation and abuse of young people.

Again, little has been done. In fact, in the case of the Don Dale juvenile facility, no criminal charges have been laid against any adults who engaged in misconduct against the youths, and despite a commitment from the NT Government to shut down the centre after the publication of the findings of the in 2017, to this day, the facility remains operational.

Why do we keep locking up kids when we know better?

Most other states have not fully committed to diversional programs and other rehabilitation initiatives either. Instead, children continue to be locked up in the same way adult offenders are.

More thorough assessment and consideration is needed for their mental and emotional wellbeing and further commitment is required to ensuring that they are given the full opportunity to choose to take a different path.  

Otherwise these young people grow up being instutionalised and, knowing very little about how to cope in society, where they continue to re-offend. 

The entire system sets them up to be lifetime criminals – a significant burden on society – and yet we have the research and the know-how to do better. We also know that long-term cost analysis shows it is more expensive not to help people to get out of the justice system.

Currently, one Western Australian youth advocacy group is sponsoring a class action lawsuit, against Banksia Hill alleging mistreatment at the facility over the excessive use of solitary confinement.

Earlier this year, the President of the Perth Children's Court His HonourJudge Hylton Quail condemned the treatment of a teenage detainee at Banksia Hill, saying: "if you want to make a monster, this is the way you do it". https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/wa-s-juvenile-prison-a-lesson-in-how-to-create-a-monster-perth-children-s-court-judge-20220210-p59vgo.html

Only days later, staff at the facility raised concerns, warning increasing violence was putting staff and detainees at high risk. 

Another recent report by the Prisons watchdog – the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services – found "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of detainees at Banksia Hill.

How many warning signs do we need? The facility is a pressure cooker that’s damaging some of our most vulnerable Australians.

Banksia Hill has been undergoing some upgrades over the past few years, although these have been hampered somewhat by constant repair work. The facility itself is one matter, the treatment of inmates is another matter entirely.

According to a statement from the WA Government, “a new operating philosophy and service model is being developed that will better enable the delivery of services to young people using trauma-informed principles in line with child safe practices” …. including "new or refined assessment and intervention frameworks, a "redeveloped therapeutic culture that supports positive behaviour management", individualised case planning and the promotion of cultural responsibility.” https://www.wa.gov.au/government/announcements/banksia-hill-getting-back-track

It all sounds very positive. We can only hope that the Western Australian Government demonstrates more progressive action than its other Australian counterparts and actually delivers on a system that will focus on rehabilitation, rather than neglect and mistreatment and that it does so, sooner, rather than later.

Need Advice?

If you’re looking for an experienced Criminal Defence Lawyer and Barrister in Perth who will provide expert advice, you’ve found it.

Andrew can guide you through this difficult chapter of your life and work towards achieving the best results for your case.

Call Us Now: (08) 9278 2575

 

This post is informative only. It is not legal advice. If you have a specific legal matter you’d like to discuss, please contact us.

 

PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.

Contact our lawyers now

At Andrew Williams Criminal Law we're here to help you with the best legal advice.

Testimonials Hear from our valued Clients

Words cannot express my gratitude for Andrew agreeing to take my case on, commit to returning from annual leave early, and the personal support and legal expertise provided in defending the driving charges made against me.

The delays I experienced by the two adjournments, while prolonging my anxiety and reducing my faith that I would receive a favourable outcome, worked very ...

Rel M
Rel M

I had Andrew deal with my case recently and couldn't of been happier with the result he got for me. From the start Andrew was quick to reply to any questions and queries I had regarding my matter. He was very professional in my opinion, very easy to talk to and explained things quite well. I felt very comfortable in the courtroom knowing that Andrew wanted to get the best result he could for me, and I would highly recommend Andrew Williams to ...

Colin W

I was on a very tight rope where, if it balanced the wrong way, it would have totally devastated my life. Andrew was honest through the entire process preparing me for the worst but never let me give up and thankfully with his help got a great outcome that let me move forward with my family. I cant praise Andrew enough and recommend him 100%.

...

Jason M

I cannot thank Andrew enough for his support and would not hesitate recommending your service to anyone who would need your help. I am eternally grateful to Andrew Williams who kept me informed as and when he had to and had no doubt in his professionalism. Thank you.

...

Pamela J
Pamela J

Had Andrew defend a reckless driving charge. He gave good solid advice throughout the process and defended me well at the trial. His costs were affordable and he was a great guy in general. The most important thing is we were able to have the charges dismissed via a not guilty verdict. I would recommend him to anyone.

...

Joly M
Joly M

Andrew represented me recently in a few difficult situations. I found him to be very professional, easily contactable and generally wanting a good outcome for me. I've passed his contact info to friends and if I ever need legal representation again I'll definitely be using his services.

...

Ryan B
Ryan B

After making several calls to various law firms, I came across Andrew Williams who was quick to respond providing knowledgeable, honest and friendly legal advice. At all times I felt confident in Andrew's ability to defend the charges. The case went to trial with an outcome of not guilty. I was awarded full legal costs. Could not be happier.

...

Matt K
Matt K

Andrew was fantastic to deal with. His courtroom demeanor and skills were apparent. He was always able to assist with a complex matter across nearly 3 years in rural WA. Would highly recommend his services.

...

Wesley H
Wesley H

Of my limited experiences in the judicial system, I can’t rate Andrew Williams highly enough. He was fantastic on my day in court and was very straight up during my consultations. He is such an awesome person, and the best professional criminal lawyer I have ever encounter. Need help call Andrew.

...

Aaron J

Andrew was brilliant with my case and achieved the best outcome. He was very professional and was very impressive in the submissions he presented to the magistrate. Again, I can't thank you enough Andrew.

...

Danni H

Andrew was very preffesional and welcoming when dealing with my case.

In the court room I felt at ease knowing andrew was representing me.

I would highly reccomend andrew for everyone no matter how big or small the case is!

...

Harry

Thanks a lot for handling my case and getting the pleasant outcome. Since the first time I talked to you I have known that my case was in a capable hands. I am impressed by your knowledge and confidence which gave me confidence. Cheers.

...

Joe Y

Thank you so much Andrew for grooming me and going over the process over and again. It was a traumatic time for me and you kept me focused. I really appreciate your guidance and we came out with the best result.

I wouldn't of been able to hold up as I did if not for your valued support.

Sincerely, Kyley.

...

Kyley S

Andrew was very approachable, knowledgeable, professional and focused on the best outcome. I would always recommend him.

...

Kieran C

My personal experience with Andrew Williams was a pleasant one from day one. In the midst of a police raid and the inability to find legal representation I considered myself done for when Andrew took the time to call me back after I contacted his office (during which time he was in trial). Upon soliciting some legal advice, Andrew was straight with me and I made an appointment with him in which he clearly explaine...

Franciosco R

I was charged with the offence of aggravated common assault. I engaged Andrew Williams to act for me.

From the first time I met Andrew I knew that I was in the right hands. His level of professionalism both in and out of the court room was very impressive. Following a two day trial in the Perth Magistrates Court, I was found not guilty.

Andrew Williams assisted me through a very stressful peri...

Kyran H

My wife and I were so glad that we chose Andrew Williams to handle our sons Reckless Driving charge. What a relief to know we have people like him around to help.

Besides a failure to indicate and cutting the corner of a very sharp S bend in the road all other allegations by Police were not substantiated. After using a previous Law firm that basically told us that it was the 2 Police Office...

George M

I have nothing but good things to say about Andrew and his law services. He helped me more than I could possibly ask for during a difficult time facing the court. He was very efficient and precise and always happy to help and answer questions even last minute and after hours.

I believe he charges a very fair price considering the amount of work he put in for me to achieve the best possible result in cour...

Trent W

I trusted that Andrew was the person to defend my case in our initial contact on the phone. He was very confident in his approach, from the first point of contact to the court room. I believe this must be from years of experience. Another added bonus for Andrew is that he is very honest and fair. He tells you like it is in the book of law and does not appear manipulative. His communicat...

Abraham A

Unhappy with my then representation, I went searching for a new criminal lawyer. Andrew responded quickly and professionally to my enquiry. It was quickly apparent during the first meeting that Andrew was knowledgeable, honest and was committed to getting us the best possible outcome. Andrew looked at all avenues available to me in a Magistrates Court matter. He negotiated on my behalf with the pros...

Timothy R

After being charged with Common Assault of a minor I made a sensible decision not to use the local Kununurra law firm. I engaged Andrew Williams to assist me with resolving this matter (to the point of me being awarded costs). Despite being 4000km away I never had any issues with Andrew's commitment to my case. He promptly returned all calls and demanded I do likewise when important information needed to be e...

David C

Andrew Williams is a criminal laywer of much dedication I will never have the words of gratitude and admiration for his honesty and integrity I would highly recommend him to anyone who may require his services in the future

...

Helen M

I just wanted to take my time to explain my experience with Andrew Williams. I had an incident that could have really affected my future. As anyone does I called around all the lawyers in Perth and just not any lawyer but the ones who are highly respected amongst other lawyers and get the results. I have a friend who works in the industry and she recommended Andrew. She said she always sees Andrew in the paper with amazing outcomes to cases th...

Phillip C

Very happy with my representation and fair fees by Andrew, I highly recommend him.

...

Damian A

I found dealing with Andrew Williams Law Firms to be quite pleasant and professional. I have nothing but utmost regard for this firm and would recommend anyone who needs a good criminal lawyer.

...

Andrew H

If you want to get the best lawyer money can buy and get results? Look no further than Andrew Williams and get him in your corner. Not only is he a great guy I found his legal services very professional and knowledgeable and his attention to detail was faultless. This was a very tumultuous time in my life I was facing two criminal charges and my anxiety and stress levels were through the roof, but thanks to Andr...

Dan G

Go to top