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Former MP's first hand experience of prison system failures

After almost two years behind bars, former Federal MP Andrew Theophanous' comments about young offenders in adult prisons ring true, according to a Jesuit-sponsored agency working with young offenders.

Mr Theophanous was quoted as saying he had observed first hand "how the prison system had failed completely young offenders".

Manager of the Melbourne-based Brosnan Centre Peter Coghlan said: "From someone who has no axe to grind about this issue, Mr Theophanous' comments are quite profound and hit the mark."

Youth Parole Board member and Executive Director of Jesuit Social Services, Bernie Geary, wants to get Mr Theophanous involved in highlighting how the system can be improved: "The Department of Justice still persists in allowing 17 year old offenders to appear in adult courts and leaves open the option for juveniles to be sent to adult jail".

"We have a window of opportunity to intervene at an early stage with many of these young lives, to prevent them committing further crime", he said. "The most effective response is to get them back into education and training, and to have prospects for getting employment."

"Except for serious offenders, placing these young people in adult prisons is just leading them in the wrong direction with the wrong role models and a completely inverted set of values and standards."

The Brosnan Centre, named after legendary Pentridge Prison chaplain Father John Brosnan, is Australia's largest non-government agency working with young offenders.

Theophanous Has "Seen the
Truth" About Young Offenders in Adult Jails (Jesuit Social Services 6/2/04)

Jesuit Social Services
Disgraced MP criticises jail (The Australian 6/2/04)
Freed, Theophanous does a Pauline Hanson (The Age 6/2/04)
Theophanous vows he will lobby for reforms (Shepparton News 6/2/04)
Theophanous becomes first MP jailed while in office (ABC 7:30 Report 11/6/02)
Andrew Theophanous Personal Website

9 Feb 2004