Urgent Action Needed (Amnesty Int.)

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As you read this our politicians are pushing through a disastrous new law, one that will steal the futures of our Indigenous kids.
Right now the ‘Home Burglary Bill’ is being debated in Western Australia’s Parliament, despite overwhelming evidence that it won’t actually reduce burglaries. [1]
What it definitely will do is send more young people to prison, thanks to expanded mandatory sentencing laws for 16 and 17-year-olds.
The situation is most dire for Indigenous kids. WA already locks up Indigenous kids at a higher rate than anywhere else in Australia.
If you’re an Indigenous kid in WA, you’re 58 times more likely to be in detention than your non-Indigenous peers.
If the Bill passes, three ‘strikes’ for burglary and you’re in prison, even if you’ve never been to court before. Gone will be the option to send kids to diversion programs or use community-based orders focused on rehabilitation. Judges will have no other choice but to lock up even more young people — a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We have just hours to stop this Bill getting through.  It was debated in Parliament on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday. It is about to pass WA’s lower house.
If it passes, this Bill will cost Western Australian taxpayers $43 million by the fourth year, and another $93 million if another detention facility is needed.
It’s labelling kids as unreformable criminals before they’ve even reached adulthood, and giving them no path in life except towards a prison cell.
If we don’t act now, this Bill could be law by the end of the month.
Premier Barnett has previously made a “personal commitment” to reduce the number of Indigenous people in the state’s jail system, and deaths in custody. [2]If enough of us call this Bill out, he’ll have no choice but to scrap it or risk reneging on his commitment.
For the future,
Julian Cleary
Indigenous Rights Campaigner
Amnesty International Australia
PS. It doesn’t take a criminologist to see that cutting out the options for diversion programs and rehabilitation is likely to increase crime. Tell the Premier to get smarter about justice now.
References:
[1] Mandatory Sentencing in Western Australia & the Impact on Aboriginal Youth. Neil Morgan, Harry Blagg (UWA Crime Research Centre) & Victoria Williams (ALS).