More non-custodial sentences and quickly reduce the imprisonment rate for Maori

More non-custodial sentences and quickly reduce the imprisonment rate for Maori

Showing 45 reactions

  • John Gibson
    tagged this with essential 2016-12-11 11:23:07 +1300
  • Dennis Ingram
    tagged this with essential 2016-12-03 18:53:41 +1300
  • Richard Beckmannflay
    commented 2016-11-29 15:34:47 +1300
    Specifically for Maori at low security risk level, I would love to see prison funding somehow redirected to each prisoners local marae to provide an iwi based rehabilitation and work training program run day to day by whanau where possible.

    Perhaps an earlier release option bonded to longer parole period if served at marae based facility supplied and overseen by corrections, with a view to reducing recidivism whilst proving local work for whanau.
  • Richard Beckmannflay
    tagged this with interesting 2016-11-29 15:34:46 +1300
  • Richard Beckmannflay
    tagged this with essential 2016-11-29 15:34:46 +1300
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    commented 2016-11-28 23:09:23 +1300
    We need to take a big step back and look at what the issue is and why we have ended up here. In the distant past, punishment was a mixture of corporal, shame, incarceration, monetary fine and execution. Over the course of the early industrial revolution society became more humane leaving incarceration and fines as the main means of punishment.  At the time, this made sense. Most people could make a living with relatively basic skills. Over the past century, society has changed and reasonable workforce and economic participation is dependent on specialised skills learned through education and apprenticeships.  Prison for the youth essentially removes them from the opportunities to gain or (in some cases) maintain specialised work skills. People are learning machines and if we aren’t learning something useful we are more than likely learning something useless or harmful. If we look at minimising the impact of crime on the community we need to stop purpose training young people who make mistakes into hardened criminals. Being tough on crime is not harm minimization it’s hoping that fear will shape behaviours. Fear is a poor deterrent for youth. Just look at how your teenagers act.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-11-28 12:13:02 +1300
    Hi Robert
    I appreciate your worry that too nice a prison would not be a good deterrent
    But we do have some data on that – the Norwegian prisons are really nice – but despite that their recidivism rate is very very low
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-11-28 11:40:39 +1300
    Hi Liz
    We have a model for this – Norway – they manage to have much less recidivism – as an engineer I am all in favor of copying a model that works
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-11-28 11:38:10 +1300
    Hi Graeme
    I agree – BUT – there are two issues here
    (1) Maori/PI being treated worse by the Justice System
    This NEEDS to be fixed – and it is going to be difficult

    (2) Poverty being a major root cause of crime – we have too many Maori in that position
    This is effects more than a single demographic – and the way forwards is to fix it for everyone in that position

    So for (1) we need to be taking race into account
    For (2) if we do take race into account it will feed petrol onto the flames of racism
  • Robert Murray
    commented 2016-11-28 11:36:34 +1300
    Liz, I agree that for you and me prison is something to be avoided at all costs – ie it has a high deterrent factor. However, if we were imprisoned we may find that its not so bad, make some friends, enjoy a routine, be provided with 3 meals a day, and warm dry accommodation. People do tend to adapt to what they have to. So, after our first incarceration we may decide it doesn’t have a deterrent factor anymore. Our punishment system is graduated and I suspect those graduations ease the transition to prison. Maybe we need to involve the renown criminologist who was a prisoner (I think he’s CHch based) – or at least consider his writings.
    I’m concerned about advocating for a gold plated prison system in a tin country. I’d rather have a gold plated child care and education system.
  • Liz Gordon
    commented 2016-11-28 11:11:53 +1300
    I always think the punishment is the withdrawal from society. You and I can have this debate on the internet, are free to go and grab a coffee, see family and so one. Prisoners lead highly restricted lives (horrible – I would hate it). The subsequent question is whether it is a good investment to bring them out of prison with some education and some job skills. You want to latter and not the former. I think both are essential. This is quite a useful debate, I think.
  • Robert Murray
    commented 2016-11-28 10:54:06 +1300
    sorry Liz I think our children need “2 hours per day of quality, engaging, exciting and liberating learning” far more than our prisoners just like our “homeless” need better houses more than our prisoners need better prisons.
    We face a potential reality where a person may commit a crime in order to go to jail because its better than their current accommodation – possibly a retirement option?
    This raises the issue: Prisoners have infringed someones human rights: is infringing theirs justified – does it say that rights infringement is acceptable or do we demonstrate their importance by example.
    There is a wider argument that perhaps the whole justice system is broken and needs an overhaul/rebuild: pity there are so many lawyers in Parliament.
  • Liz Gordon
    commented 2016-11-28 10:36:21 +1300
    I agree with all this. One addition – a rigorous programme of education fitted to the person’s needs and abilities. I reckon every prisoner should get 2 hours per day of quality, engaging, exciting and liberating learning! Plus work training and experience. Plus jobs at proper rates of pay. This would transform prisons into agencies of personal and possibly social transformation. As they say, when any prisoner comes out, are they fit to be your neighbour or workmate?
    Just on that and some of this debate. It is an artifact of the current system that we have less crime and more imprisonment, due to longer sentences, longer periods in custody on remand (and lots of those people will never even be convicted of a crime) and longer delays in parole. This is costly to the families concerned and to us as taxpayers. It is said that victims are demanding longer periods in prison for criminals, but I believe that is only a small minority – largely in regard to those convicted of homicide and serious harm – a tiny proportion of the whole. Most want a sensible system of punishment and rehabilitation, and many want restorative justice to hold he perpetrator to personal account and right the wrong. We need a proper look at alternatives to teh current system BEFORE we build more prisons.
  • Robert Murray
    commented 2016-11-28 09:40:56 +1300
    Our prisons don’t seem to rehabilitate offenders very well (given the rate of reoffending,) they’re expensive, don’t help the prisoners or provide deterrence to those whose lifestyle is disorganised.
    My proposal to remedy this is to model prisons on the corporate structure. The prisons should be reasonably self sufficient with prisoners providing the labour and being trained in the trades/jobs required. Their pay will have accomodation and food deducted and the remainder can be saved for recompense or fines where needed or banked for the prisoner’s release. If one prison has enough land to produce food it may provide food for several prisons and receive clothes from one of the other prisons. Those who are imprisoned for fraud or theft will have sentences as long as reparation requires. Those requiring basic skills could be taught them and drug/alcohol treatment provided. Any surplus could be sold to hospitals or schools or govt depts. Building skills could be taught – addressing the lack of apprenticeships and tradespeople. With this structure, we may not need the concrete and bars for any but those who are an actual danger to the public (ie separate the punitive and protective functions).
    The problems with this suggestion are; that it harks back to the past, it is expensive (although the expense does have a social benefit), how do you start (do you have a lost generation and start with new entrants ) and it doesn’t address the point of this thread: discrimination. Some say we must have research to justify racial targeting: I would maintain that no amount of reason will alter popular perception which will brand us as more liberal left. Since it appears the discrimination is personal rather than structural (ie policemen and judges applying it) I’m not sure a political solution is appropriate. Perhaps a challenge to the chief Judges and Police Commissioners may have some effect.
    However this suggestion does provide a means to address some of the consequences of the lousy
    rearing that causes so many to offend rather than entering the minefield of telling people how to rear their children.
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    commented 2016-11-28 06:48:44 +1300
    Guess I can’t stay away. We need to be clear in our arguments. If there is a problem that affects a specific demographic then targeting that demographic is acceptable we do it all the time. A recent domestic violence campaign was addressed at men. We don’t target men for cervical smear tests or mammograms. Where there is an ill that affects society demographics is often used to improve the performance dollar invested outcome. That’s why it’s so important to have the evidence. It ads the rationality that can confirm something is the right thing to do. When a segment of the population is suffering or disadvantaged then not addressing it can be racist. As a comparison (using gender) were the suffragettes of the 19th century being sexist? If there are studies let’s see them. Let’s ask Gareth to set up a working group. Me, I want to see a reduction in crime. I want less prisons. I want a lower recidivism rate. I’m not affected directly but I care about the type of society we are. We know what an incarceration society looks like and it is ugly. We are racing ahead of Australia and the UK to get there.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-11-28 00:57:34 +1300
    Hi Liz
    I agree we do need to fix this
    Fix the basic issues AND fix the institutional (possibly unconscious) racism
    BUT – we need to be careful not to fuel the racist fires ourselves
    IMHO we need to -
    Analyse and audit results to find that racist tilt and fix it
    Have a totally colour blind approach to removing the reasons for crime – this will inherently help more Maori but it should not be seen as some sort of Maori bias or it will simply cause more resentment and more bloody racism
    In some ways that is unfair but pragmatically we do not want to make the racism worse
  • Liz Gordon
    commented 2016-11-27 20:24:03 +1300
    The research says there is bias. There is significant evidence of bias. There is significant racism and race-based judgement against Maori. There are other issues involved like poverty and unemployment and gang membership – I am not trying to say it is a simple issue. But if you are convinced, Tim, that we live in a racially fair society, you and I do not belong in the same political party. That’s what it boils down to. As I said earlier, my continued membership of TOP depends on how it views ‘opportunities’. I am looking for a complex, nuanced, high quality policy agenda that deals effectively with issues such as this one. I am embarrassed as a pakeha that we are shown up as a country that imprisons its indigenous people in such inordinate numbers. I am not going to point my finger and say “but they deserve it – they are bad”. I am looking for effective solutions. Over to you and your team, Gareth.
  • Tim O’Donnell
    commented 2016-11-27 20:10:02 +1300

    You say Maori are more likely to be stopped, detained, arrested & incarcerated. Apparently there are also 5x the amount in prison compared to other groups. Isn’t this because they are actually doing the crime? Not because they’re being specifically targeted. If they were wrongfully convicted I would agree with you. We should be trying to help them before they commit the crime not let them off after it’s been committed. You can’t help one race over another…. you can help a class in need which just happens to include more of one race than another. Race based policies are insulting to all.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-11-27 15:50:44 +1300
    This is important!
    AND it is one of the issues that a UBI would immediately help!
  • duncan cairncross
    tagged this with important 2016-11-27 15:50:43 +1300
  • John Alan Draper
    tagged this with important 2016-11-26 21:24:14 +1300
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    commented 2016-11-26 14:24:27 +1300
    I believe that the conclusion in the report would not address concerns such as harsher sentences being given to Maori for the same crime, higher likelihood of conviction when cases go to court, etc. There’s a whole level of detail to understand. Personally if our incarceration rate is 30% higher than Australia or the UK and we are planning to build more prisons, something it probably broken.
    This is another topic I would see as being a top 7. Justice reform. Theres a lot of examples, a lot of research and a lot of emotional baggage. I’ve said my piece as far as discovery of whether this could be a valuable policy area is concerned. Deeper investigation would be best done by a panel with evidence on hand.
  • Frances Palmer
    tagged this with essential 2016-11-26 14:02:11 +1300
  • Robert Murray
    commented 2016-11-26 13:42:25 +1300
    Sorry Liz, you didn’t address my question but the report you mentioned did – to wit: The conclusion of this part of
    the report was that, as a consequence of being exposed to a range of risk factors in social, economic and family circumstances, the over-representation of Māori in criminal justice statistics reasonably accurately mirrors the extent of criminal involvement amongst Māori, particularly younger Māori males.
    So the problem lies predominantly in the way Maori youth are being raised not in the justice system.
  • Liz Gordon
    commented 2016-11-26 13:12:38 +1300
    This issue is important. I have joined TOP because of the focus on reducing inequality, and if it delivers on this in policy I will remain in the party. I believe inequality and associated poverty is the key issue our nation faces.
    The Maori imprisonment/ general high imprisonment issue is one of a number that we need to address. Taxation – remove income and GST taxes and replace with a Financial Transactions Tax (Tobin Tax), possibly a UBS to reform income support, equal pay for work of equal value, regional development and economic stimulation of the regions. If TOP is to be a different kind of party, we need to address all these things.
    We shall have to see.
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    commented 2016-11-26 12:48:13 +1300
    Thanks Liz. My examples are from the US but again it demonstrates unequal treatment of certain minorities are all stages through the justice system. This is something that we should not ignore. There is too much evidence that there is a problem and too little is being done about it – possibly because those affected are different from those participating in the political debate.

    This is one topic where it sounds like there is a lot of evidence that can be brought together but very little activity in real life to leverage what has been learned. I’d be keen to be part of participating in the process of amassing the data.
  • Liz Gordon
    commented 2016-11-26 11:46:50 +1300
    Yes there is, in particular the Department of Corrections’ own 2007 report, arising from Moana Jackson’s work which showed that the exercise of discretion at all levels of the justice system discriminated against Maori. I explained this below. I do find it interesting that while every single piece of research – and Jackson notes there are over 300 publications about this – shows a biased and unequal system, some of you think that resolving the issue will set up some kind of inequality. As if NZ is a fair and impartial nation. Which, in case you think it is, is not!!!
    On the other matter. It now costs nearly $100,000 per year to keep a person behind bars. The majority are there for relatively minor offences, some are innocent of their crimes, many the victim of addictions and mental illness (most, actually, according to the recent DOC study). There must be a cheaper, or if not cheaper a more effective way, of dealing with these people than shutting them into a cell. Imprisonment is so harmful to family and society.
  • Robert Murray
    commented 2016-11-26 11:27:03 +1300
    Is there research to demonstrate that the rate of offending by Maori is not 5x that of the general population?
  • Robert Murray
    tagged this with dislike 2016-11-26 11:27:03 +1300
  • Phil Marshall
    commented 2016-11-26 09:03:58 +1300
    I think this is a very important topic and would suggest splitting the issue into two. One is unequal treatment before the law. The other is our general prison rate, which is as Liz says an absolute disgrace. It is miles worse than any comparable country. While these are both key determinants of the number of Maori in prison, they seem to me to be distinct issues.