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Juvenile Justice bosses 'approved unlawful isolation', lawsuit claims

Monday 26th of August 2019 | Océanie, Australie
The Sydney Morning Herald
Nouvelle

Some of the state's most senior Juvenile Justice managers signed off on the unlawful solitary confinement of a teenage boy in NSW youth custody centres, a lawsuit claims.

The case follows a scandal in which sixty-six young people, many of them Indigenous, were forced to spend up to 22 hours a day in dark cells as part of a behavioural program abandoned in 2016.

It also sets the scene for a clash over whether detainees have “residual liberty” while in custody, as the NSW Crown Solicitor argues the term is “not known to the law”, despite Supreme Court justices applying it in recent years.

The plaintiff, Leaum Doolan, now 19, has been in and out of Juvenile Justice centres since he was 13. His lawyers, Maurice Blackburn, argue managers isolated him excessively as a punishment rather than for safety reasons, a breach of the Children (Detention Centres) Act.

The claim, filed in the NSW Supreme Court, also alleges Mr Doolan was unnecessarily handcuffed and verbally abused by guards, who called him “a piece of sh--” and encouraged him to kill himself.

Between 2016 and 2017, Mr Doolan was placed on a series of Detainee Risk Management Plans, first at the Reiby centre south of Sydney and then at Cobham in the city’s west.

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