Plea to cut time  in �harsher� jail
Harsher: Hakea prison. Picture: Lee Griffith/ The West Australian

The Children's Court president is considering whether lesser sentences should be imposed on young offenders because they face a "harsher regime" in an adult jail.

The juveniles cannot be held in the State's only juvenile detention centre, at Banksia Hill, because of the damage done to cells in last month's riot.

At a hearing this week, Judge Denis Reynolds was told juveniles held in two segregated units at Hakea Prison were getting inadequate education, minimal outdoor recreation and long periods of lockdown in their cells.

Lawyers Ben Tyers, John Hawkins and Chris Miocevich urged Judge Reynolds to take into account the "harsher regime" three teenage boys faced in Hakea when he sentences them for burglaries next week.

It has not been alleged that the teenagers were involved in the riot.

In court on Monday, Judge Reynolds said the change in the detention landscape since more than 73 detained youths were shifted from Banksia Hill to Hakea last month had been "significant".

He questioned whether this should be factored into sentencing.

Mr Miocevich said that since the riots, inmates had faced increased lockdowns, including a two-week period when they were locked in their cells for 24 hours a day.

Mr Tyers told the court there was a lack of outdoor recreation available for young offenders in Hakea.

He argued the level of education being offered there was inadequate, with juvenile detainees getting just a few hours of schooling a week compared with classes twice a day at Banksia Hill.

Mr Hawkins also told of increased strip searches and a reduced ability to engage in rehabilitation programs.

Prosecutor Sean Stocks agreed there had been "a change in regime", but he rejected the submission that it was "harsher".

He urged caution on some matters and said it would be difficult to determine what impact the changes should have on sentences.

He said there needed to be a distinction between privileges and rights, submitting that juvenile offenders were not being denied their rights.

"It's not a question of whether things were nicer in Banksia," he said.

Mr Stocks argued inmates were still receiving appropriate schooling, regardless of how often they went to school before the changes, and were still allowed visitors.

He also argued that Judge Reynolds should not pass sentence based on a list of complaints, adding that some of the things complained about had been privileges.

The West Australian

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