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Racial orientation of policies wrong

2000 web siteLabour Justice spokesperson Phil Goff says that the justice and corrections policies released by Mauri Pacific are wrong in principle and likely to be ineffectual.

"Maori overrepresentation in our justice and corrections systems is a huge problem which cannot be ignored.

"However, separatist Mauri Pacific policies offer no answer.

"The Party proposes adopting Maori traditional practices in law without defining what those practices are or how they might operate in an integrated and multi-cultural society. It is unlikely that the solutions to problems in the 21st century will be found in practices of the 18th century.

"Mauri Pacific also suggests prisons owned and operated by Maori.

"Ownership and administration of a prison on the basis of race is irrelevant to the problems which lead Maori to be overrepresented in prison and irrelevant to dealing with those problems.

"The focus should be on Maori participation in running programmes aimed at rehabilitation which draw on cultural practices and strengths.

"Making Northland an exclusive Maori prison also means that non-Maori inmates would continue to be kept outside of their own region with consequent problems of access by families.

"The answer to overrepresentation in negative justice statistics by Maori lies in addressing the wider social crises in Maoridom. These include depressed social conditions and high unemployment, higher levels of abuse and neglect of children, low income and lower educational achievement.

"Blaming the justice system or the management or ownership of prisons is approaching the problem from the wrong end," Phil Goff said.

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