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Give Bailey Junior Kuariki a Break says Rethinking

Give Bailey Junior Kuariki a Break says Rethinking

“Bailey Junior Kuariki is due for release from prison this year. What he now needs is the opportunity to become a useful and productive citizen. Every time the community or the media publicly highlights his offending, or criticises decisions around his ongoing rehabilitation and reintegration, it will erode his determination to change. As a community, we need to give him the breaks that will ensure he doesn’t re-offend again,” said Kim Workman, Project Leader for Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

“We must continue to support the victims in this case. But we must also make certain that our actions don’t create further victims”.

Kim Workman was commenting on the recent publicity around the Department of Corrections decision to recall Kuariki from the ‘Mau Rakau’ programme at Mokoia Island. “I know this programme intimately –as a former District Director of Maori Affairs in Rotorua, and later as a participant in the programme with my two youngest sons. It’s been going for 28 years, and has changed the lives of thousands of young people in a positive way.” The organiser, Mita Mohi, is a highly resepected Te Arawa elder.

“The programme is ideal for Bailey, who I understand is making very good progress. Usually, about a 100 people attend – and participants range in age from 10 to 70 year of age. It’s a highly motivational programme, using the structure and processes of whanaungatanga (family relationships) as the means of effective intervention and social change. Typically, it includes children from secondary schools, including children supported by Child Youth and Family and the Police. Adults who attend include celebrity role models, kaumatua, policeman, prison and army officers, and some prisoners and ex-prisoners.

There is plenty of opportunity for participants to share and hear from others who faced with making choices at some point of their lives, made either a bad or good choice. Adult participants talk about how as children they suffered abuse and violence as children, but were still able to lead useful lives. Others, who have had a positive family life, will talk about making a bad choice at some point. All acknowledge the importance of taking responsibility for their actions.

“I am disappointed that Bailey has been taken from the programme. He would have benefited from living with so many positive Maori of all ages, and being exposed to a normal and supportive family environment. If what I am told about him is correct, then he in turn would have made a positive impact on other young people, including those who are at risk of ending up in prison.”

“The community and the media needs to decide how we should treat prisoners due to be released. Do we continue to stigmatise and harass them, so that their chances of emerging as useful citizens are reduced? Or do we surround them with people who hold them directly accountable for future behaviour, and support their efforts to keep on the straight and narrow?” Which approach is going to reduce the number of victims in society? What will we do the next time Bailey is recommended for a rehabilitation programme?

Society needs to rethink its approach.


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