The overall ‘tough on crime’ approach in Victoria, promoting a punitive attitude, fails to make our communities safer and is causing an expanding prison system with counterproductive and harmful effects. Excessive use of isolation, separation and lockdowns indicates a real need to develop a more sophisticated approach to the rehabilitation of justice-involved young people.
Typically, juvenile justice centres are large-scale, located a great distance from the young person’s family and community with an emphasis on high-security. As such, these facilities facilitate and maintain social isolation and therefore presuppose the need for reintegration.
Our objective is to achieve a paradigm shift moving away from punishment, towards an evidence-based, person-centred practice. Informed by international research and precedents, we established key design principles and requirements for facilities to actively build on family and community connections, education and employment opportunities and address wellbeing and mental health issues.
We have defined five key principles to inform the design of new justice facilities: Small-scale, local, relational security, therapeutic environment, and destigmatization. Recognizing that the design of justice facilities impacts the way programs and services are delivered in that space, it is discussed how facilities are able to promote more positive outcomes for justice-involved young people and addresses reintegration issues they currently face.
This project offers a new model for the youth justice system and can offer a sustainable alternative to high-security detention for young people. Ultimately, we expect this approach to promote positive outcomes for justice-involved young people and reduce reoffending rates.