Young Queenslanders can now be locked up for minor offences after new laws passed state parliament.
The laws scrap the long-standing principle of detention as a last resort for juvenile offenders, something Amnesty International says is a breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli has told parliament the laws also make an adult defendant’s juvenile criminal history admissible in sentencing.
“This is the start of turning around a culture of saying to people `It’s okay because you’ve done it a bit tough’,” Mr Crisafulli said on Tuesday night.
“The people that we represent are under siege because of this.
“Because of gangs of youths out of control, people are living like prisoners in their own homes; going into their front driveway and some little thug with a knife is carjacking them, in the driveway of their home.”
But Opposition MP Jackie Trad said the laws, which remove the differentiation in punishments for minor and serious juvenile offenders, would not work.
She said it would ensure the justice system took in wayward kids and turned out hardened criminals with limited prospects.
“The government wants to lock up even minor offenders and leave them to intermingle with our worst, most intransigent young offenders in detention centres that will no doubt become a college for crims,” Ms Trad told parliament.
“Queensland’s youth justice centres will become production lines, turning rebellious teens into intractable criminals with no respect for the law and the skills to put their criminal attitude into practice.”
The law also allows repeat offenders to be named and paves the way for some 17-year-old offenders to be transferred to adult prisons.