The Queensland Government is offering the community an opportunity to voice its views on proposed changes to the state’s youth justice laws.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a number of law changes on 29 December in response to reported community outrage after the alleged stabbing death of a mother by two juveniles on Brisbane’s northern outskirts on Boxing Day.
Two 17-year-old boys have been charged with the stabbing murder of Emma Lovell, 41, and wounding her 43-year-old husband after breaking into their North Lakes home about 11.30pm on 26 December. The pair were detained shortly after the alleged attack and remain in custody after a brief appearance before Childrens Court magistrate Peter Saggers in Brisbane yesterday (16 January).
The incident received national media attention over the Christmas holiday period and included calls from some sectors of the community for tougher youth justice laws and penalties.
Ms Palaszczuk, as reported in QLS Proctor, late last year said the community had been heard, saying: “My government is listening and we are acting.”
The Government is now offering everyone the chance to respond to its proposed measures via a ‘have your say’ question-and-answer section on its ‘stronger laws for community safety’ web page, which says:
“Our most recent proposed legislative responses are designed to break the cycle of offending by serious repeat offenders, with stronger penalties supporting the efforts of police and the courts to reduce offending and hold criminals accountable.
“We realise that there is no quick fix for youth offending – and a range of long-term responses are needed to prevent offending and to protect the community.
“Accordingly, we want community input into how youth justice, crime prevention and related human services should be delivered into the future to reduce offending and keep communities safe.”
Public submissions can be made by responding to five questions posed and is limited to 1000 words for each answer.
No deadline has been nominated on the webpage for the close of submissions.
The proposed changes to Queensland laws include:
- an increase in the maximum penalty for stealing a car from seven to 10 years’ imprisonment;
- a more severe penalty of 14 years if the offence is committed at night, where the offender uses violence or threatens violence, is armed or pretends to be armed, is in company or damages or threatens to damage any property;
- amendment of the Youth Justice Act requiring courts to take into account previous bail history, criminal activity and track record when sentencing, and
- increased penalties for criminals who have boasted about their crimes on social media.
Other proposed youth justice measures involve:
- a $9.89 million fast-track sentencing program in Brisbane, Townsville, Southport and Cairns so children spend less time on remand and more time serving their sentences
- the construction of two new youth detention centres
- a trial of engine immobilisers in Mt Isa, Cairns and Townsville, and
- the appointment within the Queensland Police Service of an Assistant Commissioner to the position of Youth Crime Taskforce Commander.