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Statutes Amendment (Youths Sentenced as Adults) Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading

(Continued from 28 September 2017)

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:35): This bill will give the courts the ability to use the sentencing principles of adult offenders rather than youth offenders when sentencing juveniles who have been tried as adults. I understand that the primary sentencing consideration for adults is to protect the community from harm, whereas for young offenders rehabilitation is the key sentencing consideration. Rehabilitation should be the key principle for the sentencing of young people, except in the most severe circumstances. Advance SA recognises that there are exceptional circumstances where the safety of the community may be placed at risk if rehabilitation is the primary sentencing consideration. It would be unacceptable to allow for there to be a risk to the community for the sake of rehabilitation.

During briefings on this matter, I was advised that the courts will have discretion as to whether they sentence youths as adults or not. I am glad that this is the case, as Advance SA has serious concerns that this bill could see 10 year olds and 11 year olds being sentenced as adults. I think there are very few people in the community who would think that 10 year olds and 11 year olds should not have rehabilitation as the primary sentencing consideration except in very rare and exceptional circumstances.

I am glad the courts will have discretion and that it is not automatic that youths tried as adults will be sentenced as adults. We will rely on the court’s discretion for this but it is important that these concerns are put on the record.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M. Gazzola.

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