detention center photo by Kconnors via MorguefileThe New South Wales Government has been forced to close a youth detention center because of a lack of inmates.

The same positive trend is occurring with teens in Saskatchewan. The number of incarcerated youth in that province has fallen so much that units have been closed at three youth detention centers and one will be repurposed to house adult women.

Changes to policing and court practices in both localities has cut child incarceration by nearly 50 percent.

“Research in Canada and around the world, particularly with regard to youth, demonstrated that harsher punishments, particularly custody, are no more effective than a lot of the community-based sanctions they could have,” said Nick Jones, a Canadian professor of justice studies.

“There are times when punishment and custody are called for, but… that should be used as a last resort, not as a first resort,” he added.

New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith agrees, saying that while detention is the best option for some offenders, it is not necessary for all.

READ the Canada story in the Star Phoenix

READ the Australia report from its ABC News

Photo by Kconnors via Morguefile – CC license

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