Concern over juveniles in jail

MOUNT Isa Mayor Tony McGrady disagrees with legislation that allows 17-year-old juveniles to be transferred to adult prisons.

Cr McGrady, who was formerly the Queensland police and corrective services minister, agreed with most of the contents of the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Bill passed through Queensland Parliament last week, as he believed it will help regulate youth crime in Mount Isa.

However, Cr McGrady was concerned the legislation will expose juveniles to hardened criminals at an earlier age.

``I don't believe placing juvenile kids in adult prisons is the right way to go, because all you will do is bring `apprentice criminals' in jail with some of the worst prisoners,'' Cr McGrady said.

Other legislation reforms in the bill that Cr McGrady agreed with included the allowing of names of repeat juvenile offenders to be published by the media, and for allowing juvenile criminal histories to be available in adult courts.

``Why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't this information be brought to the judge? Why should we protect these people?'' Cr McGrady said.

The bill revealed that 400 juveniles last year were charged with more than 7000 offences while on bail.

``People make mistakes when they're young, but there comes a time when you say enough is enough,'' Cr McGrady said.

``They are not learning their lesson.'' 

Cr McGrady said youth crime was become worse in Queensland and that community group grants were not yet fixing the problem.

``It's not worse in Mount Isa than anywhere else, but that's no consolation,'' Cr McGrady said.

``My view is it's not improving, it is getting worse.'' 

Cr McGrady said during an early morning walk recently he noticed up to 100 youths loitering on the street in groups.

``I suspect they are not there for morning prayers, I suspect they are up to no good,'' he said.