Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced new penalties for “violent juvenile car thieves”. The changes, which include longer jail time, follow the killing of 41-year-old Emma Lovell outside her home on Boxing Day. Two 17-year-old boys have been charged over her death.
- The maximum penalty for stealing a car will increase from 7 years to 10 years, or 14 years if the offender is violent or threatens violence, the offender is armed or pretends to be armed, or the offence is committed at night (applies to adults and juveniles)
- Increased penalties for offenders who boast about their theft on social media and measures to fast-track sentencing.
- The Government will build two new youth detention centres, fund “extreme high visibility” police patrols and appoint a Youth Crime Taskforce Commander within Queensland Police.
Palaszczuk described the changes as “tough laws made even tougher” intended to “keep the community safe”.
Queensland has relatively high rates of youth incarceration by Australian standards. A recent report by advocacy organisation Justice Reform Initiative (JRI), which opposes the overuse of prisons, found Queensland imprisons the highest number of children in the country.
JRI Executive Director Dr Mindy Sotiri has called the Queensland Government’s plans to expand its youth prisons as “short-sighted and counterproductive policy that will make it more likely that vulnerable children will commit further offences”.