Queensland takes national lead in jailing under-12 yo’s

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Queensland tops all other states in Australia in jailing under 12-year-olds, a new Amnesty International report has found.

Furthermore, most of these children are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Amnesty International’s Head Held High report for Queensland found.

“This flies in the face of international laws and standards,” the organisation said in its announcement of the report.

“Decades of harsh policies have seen too many kids, especially Indigenous kids, trapped in the criminal justice system,” said Claire Mallinson, National Director of Amnesty International Australia.
"Amnesty has supported the Queensland government’s recent positive reforms to the youth justice system. These have been a big step in the right direction, but our research shows more should and can be done.”

On a national level, the report said that Indigenous children make up more than half of the youth detention population despite being just 6% of the population of 10- to 17-year-olds.

“Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 24 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous children,” the report said.

In Queensland, Indigenous children make up 65% of the average daily youth detention population, despite being just about 8% of all 10- to 17-year-olds.

Indigenous children overall in Queensland are 22 times more likely to be locked up than non-Indigenous children, with Indigenous girls detained at 33 times the non-Indigenous rate, the organisation noted.

The report also found that Queensland had the highest rate of holding children on remand in Australia.
As many as 83% of children are being held in children’s prisons without bail, whether prior to court proceedings or prior to sentencing on an average day, the report revealed. Two thirds of them are Indigenous.
More than 20 recommendations were made by Amnesty International in its report, including that Queensland stop jailing 17-year-olds in adult prisons. Queensland is the only state that allows this.
The organisation is also calling for the criminal responsibility age to be raise to 12, saying detaining children under 12 is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The organisation also called for funding for culturally-appropriate Indigenous-led holistic family support and early intervention and legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in Queensland.

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