Makeshift Australian youth prison unfit for teenagers: lawyers

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-04 08:47:44|Editor: Xiang Bo
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SYDNEY, April 4 (Xinhua) -- A youth justice center being used to house young Victorian offenders is unfit for children, a court has been told.

Human rights lawyers representing 15 teenagers being detained at a recently-established youth complex within Victoria's maximum security Barwon prison have launched a second legal challenge to have the center shut down.

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) launched the action in Victoria's Supreme Court on Tuesday on the grounds that the facility is akin to an adult prison and cannot meet the teenagers' needs under the law.

Ian Freckleton on behalf of the HRLC told the court that the young offenders in the Grevillea Unit currently have no access to a registered school and are often held in isolation.

"It looks like, smells like, sounds like a prison and that's not fixable," Freckleton told the court.

"The Grevillea Unit is inappropriately and unlawfully prison-like."

The 15 teenagers in the unit are being held on remand as they await court proceedings.

The unit was established after a spate of violent riots at the Parkville Youth Justice Centre throughout 2016 left the facility with significant damages that compromised the center's security.

Freckleton told the trial, which is expected to last five days, that Grevillea was being overseen by adult prison guards who did not have the experience to deal with vulnerable teenagers.

"They're guards, they're correction officers for a prison, not for children," he said.

He said the detainees were being subjected to behavioral management programs which meant those who were better detained were spending less time in isolation.

Lawyers representing the Victorian government argued that Barwon was the best option considering the damage to Parkville.

Richard Niall, representing the government, said other options would have resulted in more isolation and severe overcrowding.