THE detention rate for juvenile offenders, particular those of Aboriginal descent, is too high and has the potential to create longer term issues for the state if not addressed immediately, said the Law Society of Western Australia.
The comments comes after it was revealed that a 12-year-old boy was held in detention at Northanpolice station after receiving a stolen Freddo Frog worth 70 cents, and as the State Government announces it will build a bail hostel specifically for juvenile offenders in Kununurra.
“Approximately 140 juveniles are in custody each day in Western Australia and the vast majority, around 75 per cent, are Aboriginal,” says Society president Dudley Stow.
“This is a highly alarming statistic, one that must be addressed by implementing social programs for juvenile offenders to prevent repeat offending, rather than building new juvenile detention facilities and locking up our state’s youth.
“The very real problem is that we are exposing these juveniles to the justice system at an early age, when we should be trying to limit their interaction with the courts and prison cells.”
The Auditor General’s Report in 2008 stated it cost approximately $500 per day to keep a juvenile in detention.
“Considering the report also states that approximately 140 juveniles are in custody each day, that’s around $70,000 per day and more than $25million per year to keep these juveniles in detention,” said Stow.