The Victorian Supreme Court has ordered all teenage detainees be removed from the state’s maximum security adult prison by close of business on Friday as “relieved” juveniles continue to be transferred out.
The State Government began removing the 16 teenagers from Barwon Prison on Thursday, just hours after the court ruled that their detention was unlawful and in breach of their human rights.
The court reconvened on Friday to sign orders forcing the Government to move all of the teenagers.
The inmates are being transferred back to the Parkville Youth Justice Centre, which is still being repaired following riots last November.
Lawyer Alina Leikin from the Human Rights Law Centre said she understood there was a unit and staff ready to receive the boys.
“I spoke with one of our clients yesterday, he was packing his things to be moved from Barwon,” she said.
“He was absolutely relieved, and he said the mood was of general relief.
“We have said for a long time that there were options other than using a maximum security adult prison, and the speed in which the children have been moved out of Barwon certainly suggests this option was available,” Ms Leikin said.
Thursday’s ruling was the third time the court had found the youth justice centre at Barwon Prison to be illegal.
The teenagers detained there may be eligible for compensation.
Government considering appeal
Youth Affairs Minister Jenny Mikakos told ABC Radio Melbourne the Government was considering appealing the judgement.
“We will obviously act in accordance with the judgement of the court and steps have already been taken in relation to that,” she said.
“We’ve got 28 days to make a decision about a potential appeal.”
The Government re-gazetted the youth justice centre last December to sidestep the previous court ruling that the facility was unlawful.
Ms Leikin said it was unlikely the Government would be able to re-establish the facility for a third time.
“This is an opportunity for the Government to draw a line in the sand and move forward with evidence-based youth justice policy and ensure that these kids have the best chance of coming out of custody rehabilitated and on a better path,” she said.