The decision published by Justice Tottle yesterday in the Supreme Court of Western Australia finding that the State repeatedly broke the law with its lockdown treatment of three children in the Banksia Hill detention centre, and that similar treatment of some children housed in the maximum-security Casuarina Prison Unit 18 was also against the law, was unsurprising. The Law Society has for some time now raised concerns that the solitary confinement of children for more than 20 hours a day is unlawful.
The Law Society recently met with the Minister for Corrective Services, the Hon Paul Papalia MLA, and at that meeting it was reinforced to the Minister that the Law Society has and will continue to take an active interest in this matter and in particular the extended periods of cell incarceration which, as we discussed, is completely inappropriate for these children with this form of punishment contrary to the object and purpose of the Young Offenders Act 1994 (Act).
Law Society President Ante Golem has repeated his calls that, “The extended periods of cell incarceration are completely inappropriate for these children and this form of punishment is contrary to the object and purpose of the Young Offenders Act. The Western Australian Government needs to urgently look at how it can redirect funding to programmes that work to reduce the root causes of crime before behaviour escalates, and how to house children appropriately when bail is inappropriate, or a custodial sentence is to be imposed.”
The Law Society looks forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the Minister of Corrective Services and his department on this important matter.
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About us: The Law Society of Western Australia is the peak professional association for lawyers in the State. The Society is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the representation of its more than 4,600 members. The Society enhances the legal profession through its position as a respected leader and contributor on law reform, access to justice and the rule of law. The Society is widely acknowledged by the legal profession, government and the community as the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.