Boot camps now an option for sentencing juvenile offenders in Far North
JUDGES have been given the green light to refer juvenile offenders to the Far North's first youth boot camp, due to open by the end of the month.
Since January 31, local magistrates have had the option of sentencing young offenders to the rehabilitation camp instead of sending them to detention centres.
While authorities are tight-lipped about the boot camp's location, a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the first intake of offenders was due to attend the camp in the third week of February.
Boot camps in Cairns and the Gold Coast will accommodate 80 juveniles as part of the $2 million, two-year trial.
Barron River MP Michael Trout said the community was crying out for a fresh approach to dealing with youth crime.
"We know the juvenile justice system hasn't been working and there has been a continuous revolving door of young offenders," Mr Trout said. "The community has had a gutful and they want a change.
"We can rehabilitate young offenders rather than jail them and turn them into hardened criminals."
Youths who have committed serious violent or sexual offences are not eligible for the program and candidates will also undergo a mental health assessment before being approved to attend.
Mr Trout said he expected magistrates to make the most of the boot camps.
"We believe it is the right thing to do and now need to make sure we get the balance right between serious discipline and serious rehabilitation," he said.
The Far North was selected to host the boot camp in August last year, with local social support provider Safe Pathways awarded the tender in November.
Mr Bleijie is due to visit the camp once it is finalised.
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Boot camp option: Judges have been given the green light to refer juvenile offenders to the Far North's first youth boot camp, due to open by the end of the month.