Juvenile Detention
Reporter: Tim Noonan
Producer: Ryan Heffernan

This is a place you never want to end up, where teenagers who thought they new it all. Went down the wrong path and walked straight into their worst nightmare. Cameras have never been granted this access to a juvenile detention centre. They have granted FYI to bring home to every Australian family, this is what happens when children go too far. In this place not everyone is equal. Boys will challenge boys for dominance. They'll even challenge the guards."There's a food chain for sure and what I mean by that is a pecking order, you know yeah… and the top of the pecking order has to be staff and when it its not staff you have trouble" says a prison guard."And this would be terrifying for a young person there for the first time in this life, particularly if he has never been in trouble before. It would be very, very difficult and friendless. They'd feel very, very alone" adds Barbara Holborow. "A detention centre in some circumstances can really be a saving grace for some young people it will turn them around." It was clear during our time at Banksia Hill Detention Centre that no family, rich or poor, doing well or not, can be sure their kids won't end up here."We're talking about all kids. We're talking about them from low socio-economic situations to private schools. All kids" says Barbara."The range of young people, we've had 10 year olds come in for breaking a window and we've had adolescents 14, 15, 16 year olds come in for willful murder…and everything in between" says Superintendent Peter Logan.I spoke with inmates in this detention centre and they all agreed, no child's first day is a good one."It can be pretty scary when you first come here if you don't know no-one and there's lots of bigger boys" says a detainee."Your first year of service is different than your second and your third and you start to realise that these kids if they want something they can manipulate until they get it because a lot of them can't read or write but their ability to survive on the street is first class" says a prison guard.

Many of these kids ended up in here because of drugs but even behind razor wire fences and heavy security, there's no guarantee the kids will stay clean.

"When I first went on the bench in 1980, after cracker night the most serious charge would be letter boxes that had been blown up, when I left the bench I had 10 year olds dealing drugs on their way to school" explains Barbara. "There are crimes that without drugs a lot of kids would never commit. But because they're on drugs, caution to the wind, they go off and will commit very, very serious crimes, manslaughter, robbery with violence." Detainees that are constantly getting into trouble that may be fighting can be regressed and they'll be placed into this unit here. All their electrical privileges will be removed, basically they get their bedding, they're fed."We're open 52 weeks of the year, so there's no school holidays for our young people … we do anything possible to engage them in literacy, numeracy and vocational skills" says a prison guard."A lot of our job is being a prison officer, the other part of our job is being a role model, of being a counsellor of being a disciplinarian the other part is being a phys ed teacher then other part is helping them to read the other part is being a big brother stopping two kids fighting" says a prison guard.

The biggest fear is that this could all be for nothing. The harsh reality is most kids will end up back here in court with a return ticket to juvenile jail, or even worse, they will graduate to the adult system and a life of crime.

Visit www.correctiveservices.wa.gov.au for recruitment information on Juvenile Custodial Offices
Phone 13 12 17