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Royal commission must consider alternatives to prison for children

Australian Red Cross calls for the royal commission on youth abuse in Australia's detention centres to urgently explore alternatives to detention for young people.

Tuesday July 26, 2016

Rethinking justice
What we'd save by rebalancing the justice system.

"We have just witnessed the abuse that children can experience in the prison system and it must stop now. Red Cross encourages the Northern Territory Government to establish interim independent monitoring of youth detention facilities pending the recommendations of the royal commission," said Red Cross Community Services Director Kerry McGrath.

"Looking at how prisons are run is only half the solution. We also need better ways to keep kids out of prison in the first place, as well as help them reintegrate into the community afterwards," said McGrath.

"We need an honest conversation about rebalancing our justice system. Funds that now go into incarcerating kids can be better spent on community programs that help them stay out of trouble."

A recentĀ Red Cross report into the Australian justice system showed how a reduction in the incarceration rate of 2% a year would save almost $2.3 billion over five years. This money could be reinvested in addressing the underlying causes of crime.

"Education, mental health support, drug and alcohol treatment and parenting programs need the same kind of investment that now goes into incarceration.

"It's not a choice between protecting kids and having safer communities - we can have both," she said.

For more information or interviews, contact Alice Crowley 0400 942 861.