People Are Furious After National Campaign Fails To Raise Age Of Criminal Responsibility
"If you're a politician who has given up on finding a better solution than prison for a 10 year old kid, then do us all a favour and resign."
Ten-year-olds will continue to be sent to jail in Australia after the Council of Attorneys-General ignored a national campaign fighting to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
The campaign had lobbied the council to raise the age from 10 to 14, arguing that children that young should be supported with mental health care, mentoring and education — instead of jail. But at their biannual meeting yesterday the council said more work needed to be done to figure out alternatives to prison for young offenders.
Now, people are furious that apparently our top legal minds can’t see any options other than chucking kids behind bars.
A working group was put together more than a year and a half ago to look into this, and eight months ago they announced they would report back with recommendations this year.
Now any decision has been deferred until next year to give the working group more time. Meanwhile, last financial year almost 600 Australian children aged 10 to 13 were in detention. But hey, what’s the rush?
truly astounding that yesterday a group of powerful people got together and agreed that 10 was an appropriate age to imprison a child. wtf was that conversation? shame on you. #RaiseTheAge
— Alex Dane (@AlexDane_) July 27, 2020
It’s hard to imagine anything worse for a child than being locked up. The decision is stupefying.
— Der Kevin (@kbkorb) July 27, 2020
“If there is a move to raise the age of criminal responsibility you have to identify what is the alternative for children who would otherwise be subject to the criminal justice process,” NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said.
“And that is where further work needs to be done. What are the therapeutic interventions the behaviour interventions, the social support, the educational interventions that offending children need if they are not going to be dealt with by the criminal justice system?”
A nationwide campaign pushing for the age to be lifted had encouraged people to share images of themselves at the age of 10 to try and bring a bit of humanity back into the discussion.
This is me at 10 doing what every 10 yr old should be doing. Our kids belong in schools not in prison @MarkSpeakman #raisetheage No 10 yr old is a criminal and no child belongs in jail pic.twitter.com/62sc6opHlE
— Charlee-Sue (@CharleeSueFrail) July 23, 2020
Me at 10. On Monday Aus Gov Ministers will decide whether to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14. Right now 10 year old kids are being locked up. 70% of them are Aboriginal children. #RaiseTheAge
Sign the petition https://t.co/NFkyXws7zz pic.twitter.com/z5A4rmfsGM
— Nova Peris OAM OLY (@NovaPeris) July 26, 2020
People are understandably exhausted and furious the council has avoided making any changes. In a media release, the Koori Youth Council — who put out a report two years ago which recommended raising the age (and included solutions to support Indigenous kids) — called the news disheartening.
“The alternatives to imprisonment have been identified, along with solutions and research that supports the need to raise the age. Further delays will continue to have detrimental effects on children and young people in the youth justice system,” their statement said.
And if you're a politician who has given up on finding a better solution than prison for a 10 year old kid, then do us all a favour and resign – you don't deserve the role#RaiseTheAge https://t.co/icLcm3HU2a
— Scott Phillips (@TMFScottP) July 28, 2020
This news made me more sad than I’ve felt in a long time. How can this proposal be rejected when there is so much evidence about the harms done to children as a result of imprisonment. A sad day indeed #RaiseTheAge https://t.co/kyViZyaFJ5
— Dr Anthea Rhodes 👩🏻⚕️📚🎙 (@DrAntheaRhodes) July 28, 2020
I’m struggling with the discourse today. The government has refused to raise the age, covid feels insurmountable and all anyone is talking about is fucking Karen.
— blak milf writer (@NayukaGorrie) July 27, 2020
How can Governments use medical evidence (despite no evidence of community transmission) or "concern" for our lives to deny right to protest on #BlackLivesMatterAustralia, at same time ignoring evidence delaying #RaisetheAge decision, exposing kids in prison to lifelong damage?
— Roxy Moore (@Roxy_Moore_) July 28, 2020
We're disappointed the Council of Attorney Generals has missed a historic opportunity today to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.
Children should be in school, not jail.#RaiseTheAge
— Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria (@CommunityLawVic) July 27, 2020
The Koori Youth Council is part of the collective Raise The Age Campaign, which is made up of experts in the legal, medical and social justice fields.
I’m not a policy maker. But given #RaiseTheAge was developed and/or supported by these respected orgs, I would’ve thought this was a no-brainer.
To argue there is no alternative to locking kids in prison is a failure of imagination and admission of our inability to protect kids. pic.twitter.com/0Zi6WnLqgZ
— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) July 27, 2020