Computers in Cells for Youth Detainees

Media Release November 17, 2023 

The NSW Minister for Youth Justice, Jihad Dib, was questioned during a Budget Estimates hearing on the provision of computer tablets to youth detainees. His Department said they will be provided by the end of the financial year (p72.7). This is a promising move by Youth Justice showcasing their commitment to positive change. Youth will now join adults with this essential reform that will help lower rates of recidivism.

They were questioned about detainee violence resulting in long term segregation (p42). Overseas research has indicated a 60% reduction of violence against staff after providing tablets and recently published research for adult NSW prisoners shows the same trend. Instead of being isolated in their cells most of the time, they will now have access to family, music, education, and other services.

Youth Justice said they have 42 psychologists for the 212 detainees [p42.8]) offering 1 hour a week [p53.9]). However these psychologists are seen by the detainees as having a conflict of interest – they are engaged by management in decisions and yet need openness from detainees for counselling. By providing access to culturally appropriate external counsellors, via the tablets in the cells, a greater level of trust could be created as well as continuity of service after release.

The department was asked about the increased cost of $800 per day per detainee over the previous year’s expenditure of $2,700 a day (p63.8). The reason given was it was due to ‘food, costs of living, electricity’.(p72.9) The total cost is almost $1m a year (p63.8) for each young person in detention. The need to put more resources into proven diversion and justice reinvestment programs is clear.

Minister Dib supported peer mentoring. He stated that, (p48.5) ‘One of the great stories was that there was a young person who, as a result of the Try a Trade day course, got, I think, a plumbing apprenticeship upon his release…That young kid actually ended up getting…a scholarship and he’s now at university. He’s actually changing his life and he wants to do youth leadership and youth mentoring.’ We look to building social support, using positive role models to reduce youth recidivism from its current level of 63.1%, rather than locking up young people, 61% of whom are Aboriginal.

Read more about computers in cells here 

Scroll to Top