Prison abolition campaigners Sisters Inside have warned Queensland’s new youth justice laws will open the door to United States style policing that has led to thousands of Black deaths at the hands of police in the past decade.
Ahead of next week’s debate on youth justice reforms, lawyer and Sisters Inside CEO Debbie Kilroy said the Queensland Government’s raft of new policies would escalate a “policing style based on force and suspicion, class and racism”.
“Just as the rates of police killings and mass incarceration of black people in the US are the continuation of enslavement practices, the deaths in custody and mass incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples is an ongoing practice of invasion,” Ms Kilroy said.
“These policies are only about funding police to lock up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and definitely not about community safety.”
Ms Kilroy said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children would now be “even more at risk of brutal arrests and dying at the hands of police just for walking down the street and police suspecting they might breach a bail condition”.
“These are the most dangerous laws we have seen put forward to deal with children in crisis with zero evidence to support their introduction.”
She said in addition new labour agreements between State and Federal Governments to recruit thousands of international police officers to the Queensland Police Service was “extremely dangerous”.
“Luring police officers from countries with extraordinarily violent policing policies such as the US will put communities on a path to devastation,” she said.
“Just as sending police from Brisbane to work in regional and remote communities is a recipe for disaster as they do not have cultural understanding and they do not know the community.”
Ms Kilroy said government policy had been, for decades, funnelling money into police under the guise of funding community programs.
“If you give money to the PCYC you are giving money to the police,” Ms Kilroy said. “If you give money to co-responder teams you are giving money to police and Department of Youth Justice”
“It has to end. Money must go to community where there are solutions supporting young people dealing with escalating racism, poverty, increasing homelessness and increased targeting by police.”
Ms Kilroy said government was funding organisations working to keep children locked up.
“The majority of state money goes to a system that is only interested in State control of these children,” Ms Kilroy said.
“No good has come of this and no good will ever come.”
Ms Kilroy said the only answers to creating safer communities and supporting children in crisis was funding programs that worked to give every child a better life where they experience no harm.
“What we are really seeing with these new youth justice laws is prejudice against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and women and men.”
“This is racial capitalism and it has nothing to do with community safety. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives will be lost.”
Media Contact Debbie Kilroy: 0419 762 474
How can you help?
The Sisters Inside Fund for Children supports children of women in the criminal justice system to choose their own future free of the burdens so commonly felt while their mother is in prison.
#Free Her Campaign
This campaign has been set up by Debbie Kilroy, CEO of Sisters Inside Inc. The funds raised will be used to release people from prison and pay warrants so they are not imprisoned.