I listened to a radio interview this morning; with a Maori/indigenous member of the NZ Drug foundation & a lawyer who works in the field. They were discussing & presenting some stats. of prison numbers; esp. around drug issues.
1) Maori makeup about 15% of the total population, of Aotearoa/NZ
2) BUT; they make up about 50% of the total prison population/muster (currently, over 4000 inmates)
3) This is more prominent, in female prisons/sections, where maori inmates make up about 63% of the population
4) It was stated that many ‘young offenders’ first come before the court for ‘minor non-violent DRUG offences’ (possession or low-level dealing)
5) This then leads on to many going into ‘detention’ which often progresses to prison. ‘Re-offending rates’ are about 80%
6) They highlighted that there is a ‘prejudice’ in sentencing; maori are more likely to go to prison.. whereas ‘non-maori’ are more likely to be fined or sentenced to community work for similar offences
7) The main issue; there is a lot of recognition that Drug treatment, is better outside the prison system.. BUT the reality is, that most of ‘hardcore re-offenders’ are only put into treatment, once they are incarcerated
8) There is a wide recognition that the system IS broken, BUT NZ Govt. are more willing to spend funds to ‘build more prisons’ & continue down this ‘established path’, rather than look at alternatives; that keep people out of prison, in the first place
9) They stated that putting young maori in prison, really has a negative effect; joining gangs, learning ‘how to be a better criminal‘ etc.
10) Upon release, many tend to mix with other ‘crims’ & often end up back in prison, in short order.. rather than ‘being rehabilitated’ & joining the ‘mainstream society’. A total FAILURE of their intent !!
btw; Today is ‘Waitangi day’ in Aotearoa/NZ.. the day that ‘Te Tiriti o Waitangi’ (The Treaty of Waitangi) was officially signed in 1840, between Maori chiefs/Rangatira & ‘the British crown’ representatives (for: Queen Victoria aka; Kuini Wikitoria).. unfortunately; rather than being a celebration, it is often a day when ‘old grievances/dirty laundry’ comes to light. 😦