Young people on remand awaiting sentencing for offences could continue to be housed with young offenders in detention until 2029, a new plan for youth justice in Tasmania shows.
Education, Children and Youth Minister Roger Jaensch has released the Youth Justice Blueprint 2024-2034 which he says will expand the focus on prevention of offending and antisocial behaviour through early intervention and diversion.
There are 15 detainees at present in the Ashley Youth Detention Centre, of which 12 are being held on remand to wait court proceedings and sentencing.
The blueprint stated that anecdotal evidence suggested that one of the key reasons that children and young people were remanded to, or held in detention, prior to sentencing was due to the lack of suitable housing to which they could be bailed.
"Consequently, children and young people who have not been found guilty of an offence, or whose offence may not otherwise require a sentence of detention, are being placed in detention because they are unable to access appropriate accommodation options," the plan read.
It stated the over-representation of young people on remand in detention was extremely costly and increased the risk of a young person to become entrenched in offending.
It noted all other states and territories had some form of statewide bail assistance program, which included after-hours support service, bail supervision and accommodation support.
"Bail support programs that assist children and young people charged with committing a crime to remain in the community in appropriate accommodation are critical to ensuring that they are not detained unless absolutely necessary," the plan read.
The government has accepted the commission's recommendations for:
- improved legislation around bail;
- funding additional bail support programs;
- the establishment of a 24 hour bail system;
- and specific considerations around new assisted bail facilities.
The government has a deadline of July 2029 to implement an improved bail system for young people.
The blueprint has stated an ambition to raise the age of detention to 16 years old and the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years old.