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'The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) deplores the practice of mandatory sentencing which has led to the death of a fifteen year old boy in custody in the Northern Territory', said ACSJC Chair Bishop Kevin Manning today.

'The ACSJC supports the outcry on this issue from various Catholic and community organizations. The following points need to be addressed,' he continued.

  • The Federal Government should use all the powers available to it to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.
  • The Catholic community does not want to see young people criminalized and sent to prison, but rather to helped to change their ways and become responsible participants in society.
  • Imprisonment must not be an automatic response to an offence, especially in the case of young offenders.
  • This tragedy highlights the urgent need to respond to the Royal Commission on Black Deaths in Custody and to effectively implement its recommendations.
  • Indigenous Australians are massively over-represented in our prisons compared to their numbers in the Australian population.
  • It is a national disgrace that so many indigenous people have died in our prisons.

'The ACSJC is saddened by the tragic and unnecessary death of this young man and grieves with his family and community,' he concluded.