The Alternatives to Secure Youth Detention in Tasmania Inquiry originated from a request by the Minister for Children to the Commissioner for Children for advice in relation to the role of secure detention within Tasmania’s youth justice system.
This Inquiry is part of a much broader review of the Youth Justice system in Tasmania, currently being undertaken by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Ashley Youth Detention Centre is the only secure detention centre for youth offenders (both sentenced and unsentenced) in Tasmania.
The Inquiry found that:
- Only a very low percentage of Tasmanian youth commit crime
- The trend in numbers of young offenders and those who are detained at Ashley Youth Detention Centre (including those on remand) has declined over the last 5 years.
On an average day in 2011-2012, there were 21 young people in Ashley or 94 over the year.
The Ashley Youth Detention Centre takes up a disproportionately high percentage of the Youth Justice budget in Tasmania – approximately $10 million. This is despite the lack of evidence to suggest it is effective in deterring young offenders or that it promotes and facilitates reintegration into the community upon release.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the importance of diverting young offenders from the criminal justice system. It also provides that detention should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time.
The Recommendations made in this Report are consistent with these fundamental principles.