Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Racism: You Have to Face it to Fix It

Racism exists within Criminal Justice System – But You Have to Face it to Fix It – Rethinking

“There is clear evidence that personal racism and structural discrimination exists within our criminal justice system” Kim Workman, Spokesperson for Rethinking Crime and Punishment told an audience at the Human Rights Commission Diversity Forum, held at Te Papa.

“But you have to face it to fix it. The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination asked the New Zealand government in 2005 and 2007 to address issues of ethnic over-representation in the system. The 2007 recommendation called for research on the extent to which the over-representation of Māori could be due to racial bias in arrests, prosecutions and sentences. In 2013, it urged the NZ government to intensify its efforts. We can no longer ignore this issue.”

“We need to understand that providing culturally responsive initiatives such as Rangatahi Youth Courts and Maori Focus Units, commendable as they are, do not address the fundamental and growing disparity between Maori and non-Maori in the criminal justice system.

“You can’t face it without data, and you can’t fix it without courage. If we can determine what is happening, and in what part of the criminal justice sector, we may be able to introduce policies, processes or legislation to counter it. I am reluctantly coming to the view that agencies won’t invest in the research, because they know what they are likely to find.”

“One of the hallmarks of the “get tough” movement over the past three decades has been the lack of evaluation regarding both the potential and actual effectiveness of harsh criminal justice sanctions in controlling crime. Typically, when new punitive sentencing legislation is enacted there is little funding or attention devoted to assessing its likely effects, both intended and unintended.”

Mr Workman recommended that new and existing legislation be subject to a Racial Impact Statement, (similar to a regulatory impact statement) which would identify the unintended consequences of a new initiative or legislative proposal on ethnic over-representation, and consider alternatives that enhance public safety, without creating additional racial disparity within the criminal justice system.

“Racial Impact Statements” are being used to positive effect in the USA” he said. “While proposed changes in sentencing policies are the most obvious decision-making point at which unwarranted racial disparities might emerge, a host of policy decisions at other stages of the criminal justice system can affect the racial/ethnic demographics of the offender population as well. These include adjustments to sentencing guidelines, mandatory sentencing, and other policies that affect length of stay in prison, parole release and revocation policies, and “early” release mechanisms, such as participation in drug treatment or other programs.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Australia’s Election

Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese faces an obvious dilemma, barely before he gets his feet under the desk. Australia is the world’s leading exporter of coal. Will the new Labor government prioritise the jobs for Queensland/NSW workers in its mining-dependent communities - or will Labor start to get serious about climate change, and risk the inevitable political backlash from making a major shift into renewables..?


Australian Election: Prime Minister Congratulates Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated Anthony Albanese and the Australian Labor Party on winning the Australian Federal election, and has acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison... More>>

Government: Helps Supermarket Shoppers Get A Fair Deal
Urgent Budget night legislation to stop major supermarkets blocking competitors from accessing land for new stores has been introduced today, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Dr David Clark said... More>>

Budget 2022: A Secure Future In Difficult Times
Budget 2022 will help build a high wage, low emissions economy that provides greater economic security, while providing support to households affected by cost of living pressures... More>>


Trade: Prime Minister To Visit United States
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is leading a trade mission to the United States this week as part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19... More>>

National: Jacqui Dean To Retire From Parliament In 2023

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has announced that she will not be seeking re-election at the 2023 election. “I have advised the President and Leader of the National Party that I have decided not to put my name forward... More>>

Classification Office: Following Decision To Ban Manifesto The Buffalo Mass Shooting Livestream Is Now Banned
The livestream video of yesterday’s mass shooting in the United States has now been banned, Acting Chief Censor Rupert Ablett-Hampson announced this morning. The decision follows on from his decision yesterday to call in and ban the ‘manifesto... More>>




InfoPages News Channels