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Electronic monitoring undermines rehabilitation

Electronic monitoring undermines rehabilitation

By Karin Derkley

Punishment Young Persons 


Tracking young parolees with electronic bracelets may undermine the objective of rehabilitation that is a fundamental principle of juvenile justice, youth justice experts say.

New laws announced by the Andrews government this week would see some young offenders on parole fitted with electronic bracelets to ensure they comply with the conditions of their parole, including maintaining curfews or restricting their movements to certain areas.

The law will apply to young offenders 16 and older who have committed serious crimes including home invasions, carjacking or culpable driving resulting in death.

The LIV’s Criminal Law Section co-chair Melinda Walker says electronic monitoring, often used for violent adult offenders and sex offenders, is inappropriate for juvenile justice because it introduces a punitive element to the parole of young people.

“These young people have been judged as ready to reintegrate into the community. Their parole is designed to enhance rehabilitation and is not meant to be additional punishment,” she says.

“There are already monitoring conditions that can be included for a person released on conditional parole or bail that involve them being checked on as to their location after curfew. If they feel they are constantly under watch that is likely to mitigate against their rehabilitation."

The LIV Family Law Section's Children and Youth Issues committee member Bree Solomon says electronic monitoring will only act to further stigmatise already vulnerable young people as they make efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate into the community.

“The community would be better served by the State Government pouring substantially more funding and resources into mental health, drug and alcohol and education services that will support young people on their path to recovery and ensure long-term success in reducing young people's initial contact with the justice system and recidivism."

Anthony Kelly of the Police Accountability Project says the measure is in line with an increasingly intensive surveillance and scrutiny regime, and an overarching trend towards “predictive policing” that targets people on the basis of their assumed future behaviour. “The problem with that is that biases feed into it and it can end up being a discriminatory practice that targets specific people.”

Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards questions whether monitoring young people is the best way to reduce offending and says the focus should be on supporting young people to “take accountability for their actions and address the issues behind their anti-social behaviour.

“Young people must have access to safe and secure housing, education, training and employment pathways and other community services,” she says. “This is the best way to reduce re-offending and get people back on track”

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