Wagga's kid jail ‘too full to take on more under skeleton staff’

KID criminals responsible for Wagga’s unrelenting crime wave are being “let off” by the court because the jail has reached capacity under a funding shortfall, justice centre staff and furious victims of crime say.

It comes as a staff member, who did not wish to be named, revealed to the Advertiser that an entire wing at the Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre was being unused.

They also claimed it would not accept any more kids because there was no funding to secure extra staff. 

Juvenile Justice strongly denies the claims. 

Turvey Park’s Tina Gavel says the system needed addressing after her son’s car was broken into and ransacked in this week’s rampage. 

Police say children are largely responsible for an unprecedented number of break and enters and car crime, which has seen a vehicle stolen and burnt nearly every night in Wagga. 

“They’re going to court and court is just letting them off,” Mrs Gavel said. 

“Our jail is getting so overloaded and that’s why our courts are letting them off. But they don’t see the ripple effect.”

Mrs Gavel knows “so many others” who have also been hit by re-offenders and wants a collaborative approach to tackle crime head on.

A Juvenile Justice spokesman said the centre had never refused admission to any young person and that it had capacity for 45 people but currently had only 33 in custody. 

The spokesman clarified staffing numbers were based on the number of detainees and stressed funding used for its 2013 redevelopment was separate to staffing budget.

“The courts make sentencing decisions based on the offence not on the bed capacity of the system,” he said. 

“Fluctuating numbers in custody means that Juvenile Justice needs to rationalise beds … Should numbers rise in future, units can be reopened.”

It is unknown whether the 45-person capacity includes the “closed wing”. 

Mrs Gavel will approach Wagga MP Daryl Maguire and council on how to tackle the crime epidemic collaboratively.

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