A mother tells of son?s detention hell

HIS young voice trembled as he gripped his mother's arm ever tighter: "Don't leave, Mum. Don't let them take me."

Sixteen-year-old Jason (not his real name) was seeing his mother briefly before his appearance in the Grafton Children's Court this week for a bail hearing relating to charges of demanding money with menace and other offences.

After being refused bail, the teenager was transferred to a juvenile detention centre in Sydney where, according to his mother, he is under regular and serious threat from gang members.

His mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said yesterday Jason was too afraid to shower and was being targeted because of a drug addiction.

"The word has been passed around to stand over him until I bring down drugs," she said.

"They want me to smuggle in drugs, but I wouldn't.

"I don't have any idea where you could get them and, besides, it would jeopardise my visits."

She said her son, who had been taking drugs since he was 13, needed to go onto a rehabilitation program and to be located close to family.

"Why do they send kids from Grafton to Sydney and bring Sydney kids to Grafton for detention?," she said.

"The whole purpose of building Acmena was so that problem kids from the North Coast could be close to their families and support networks.

"I want to see him brought back up here. I want to be able to see him four times a week."

A spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice said the department regularly provided assistance to family members who needed to visit detainees but had difficulty paying for travel and/or accommodation.

"Such assistance is available to the mother who has spoken to The Examiner," he said.

"In general, detainees may be transferred from juvenile detention centres to other detention centres for a range of reasons, including: the safety and good order of the centre, its staff and other detainees; to give a detainee the benefit of special age-specific programs that are delivered only at certain centres; to avoid the centre exceeding its capacity, and; to enable a detainee to receive specialised treatment or assis- tance."

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