Lawyers want teens out of adult jails

A TOP Queensland lawyer has called on the government to remove 17-year-olds from adult jails.

The call from Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts came after the emergence of video footage of a 17-year-old being restrained and placed in a protective helmet in a Wacol adult prison in 2013.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she agreed 17-year-olds should not be in adult prisons but said it was not a simple process to remove them.

Mr Potts said the practice of restraining young prisoners was "appalling".

"The society has regularly called for an end to this archaic and, quite frankly, barbaric practice," he said. "What we have seen of late is beyond the pale for adults, let alone children."

Corrective Services Minister Bill Byrne said restraints were still used in adult prisons - including on 17-year-old prisoners.

Mr Byrne denied the helmet seen in the video was a "spit hood" as used in the Northern Territory's Don Dale youth detention centre.

"The image used in the media reports today shows corrections officers applying a helmet. This is used to protect a prisoner from injuring themselves," Mr Byrne said.

Mr Byrne said the incident was investigated in 2013 - but he had ordered another review to ensure the response was appropriate.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the image was "distressing" but questioned why Mr Byrne was reviewing it when it had been investigated at the time. He said the findings of the review should be made public.

Ms Palaszczuk said the government was investigating moving 17-year-olds into youth detention.

"My personal view and that of a large number of my colleagues is that 17-year-olds should not be in our adult corrective system," she said.

"I have asked the Attorney-General and the Police Minister to work on this collectively. So as a government we can make a full and comprehensive decision in relation to this."

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said moving 17-year-olds to youth prisons would increase the number of youth prisons by one-third.

Ms Palaszczuk said she hoped a timeframe to move 17-year-olds into youth detention could be established this term.

Queensland is the only state where 17-year-olds are sent to adult jails - and have been since 1992. - ARM NEWSDESK

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