Over the past three years, there has been an increase in the number of minors being held at the Young Persons Offenders Unit (YOURS), especially at younger ages.
While 2017 saw only 4 minors being held at the correctional facility, 2018 saw 13 and 2019 saw 19 minors. In 2017, the minors were mostly between 16-17 years old, with only one female offender being 14-years old.
However, 2018 saw two 14-year old male offenders being held at the facility, along with four female 15-year olds. In 2019, two of the offenders were 14-years old, four were 15, while thirteen were 16 to 17-years old.
Parliamentary Member Godfrey Farrugia put forward a question regarding imprisoned minors to Minister for National Security Michael Farrugia in a parliamentary session.
Measures to reduce criminality
Farrugia also asked Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici about the measures being undertaken to prevent minors from being imprisoned due to a life of crime.
Bonnici said that there are several legal measures put in place to avoid minors being imprisoned. One such measure is the fact that the age of criminal responsibility was increased to 14 and the right for a minor to undergo the Court process in a Minors’ Court. Furthermore, age is taken into consideration when a sentence is handed down.