More young offenders in South Australia will avoid custody after reforms were passed in parliament allowing courts to sentence young people to home detention.
The new Youth Justice Administration Act allows young people to be held in home detention for up to a year, up from the previous six-month maximum, with the option of exclusion from certain areas or curfews, monitored by a 24-hour GPS tracking device.
“I’m satisfied that the courts will make the decisions about what is an adequate deterrent (to committing crime) and an adequate opportunity to rehabilitate (an offender),” said Youth Minister Zoe Bettison, who added that there are currently 15 young offenders serving home detention sentences.
“Through home detention, young people are able to maintain important connections with their family and community and continue or participate in education or training opportunities,” Bettison said.
“We want to ensure that children and young people in the justice system are inspired to change.”
Judges would now take into account the age and crime committed when assessing the punishment, any potential concerns of victims and where the offender would live. Bettison said she expects the number of offenders serving home detention to grow.
But according to the Adelaide Advertiser, opposition spokesperson John Gardner said his party would be watching what sort of offenders would be granted home detention.
“Home detention can be a suitable option that rehabilitates young people but it is critically important that any violent or dangerous young offenders are not eligible,” he said.
“That’s where community safety might be put at risk.
“All of those things must be taken into account by a judge.”
He said home detention is cheaper than jail and called for savings to be spent on rehabilitation programs.
“I don’t want to see this just as a cost-saving measure,” he said.