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2015 Stout Fellow will write about Māori & Criminal Justice

2015 Stout Fellow will write about Māori and the Criminal Justice System

30th October 2014

Kim Workman, founder and advocate for the Robson Hanan Trust, which administers the Rethinking Crime and Punishment and Justspeak initiatives, has been awarded the 2015 John David Stout Fellowship at Victoria University.

Professor Lydia Wevers, Director of Victoria’s Stout Research Centre of New Zealand, which will be hosting Mr Workman, says she is excited about the appointment. “We are delighted to be hosting Kim and supporting him in the writing of his book. One of his referees said that Kim combines a lifetime of grassroots engagement with the helicopter view of the reforming thinker, and I’m sure this combination of qualities will make for a well-balanced and thought-provoking book.”

During his Fellowship Mr Workman will be working on a book on the development of the criminal justice system in New Zealand, Criminal Justice, the State and Māori, which will document the history of Māori in the criminal justice system and examine the relationship between punitiveness and neoliberalism.

Kim explains, “After seven years of advocacy and policy work with Rethinking Crime and Punishment, I developed a passion for writing, and wanted to do something that would make a more permanent impact on discussion about the criminal justice system.

“I will withdraw from active advocacy and writing for the Robson Hanan Trust at the end of this year. The Stout Fellowship is too great an opportunity to be squandered – the subject matter will require my undivided attention over the next twelve months.”

“I have chosen 1985 as the starting point for this book, although it will be just as important to track how the system behaved from 1840 onwards. The criminal justice system has been through 30 years of tumultuous change, stemming from the market reforms of the 1980’s. It has been characterised by changes in policing practise, shifts in sentencing and criminal justice policy and legislation, increased punitiveness and a changed political and public attitude toward the place of human rights in New Zealand society. But it hasn’t all been negative – the 1990’s saw a radical reform of the youth justice system, the introduction of restorative justice and improved responsiveness to victims. In more recent times, there has been increased diversion of offenders away from the formal criminal justice system.”

“The impact for Māori has been significant. Most contemporary writers track Māori over-representation in the system back to the urban Māori migration of the 1950’s. In 1986, I was the District Manager of Māori Affairs in Rotorua, and as the Regional Social Impact Coordinator for Government restructuring, witnessed the devastating effect on Māori, and the subsequent over-representation of Māori both as victims and offenders. We have since seen movement toward the increased social exclusion of a ‘dangerous’ underclass, the marginalisation of the poor, and increased inequality.”

“There is very little written about this period, and the Stout Fellowship provides an opportunity to take a year out and examine that period in depth. The research will consider the State’s response to growing Māori over-representation, efforts by Māori to address the issues, and the changes in public policy and attitudes that have led to the issues we face today.”

The success of this research will be measured by the extent to which it can promote dialogue about alternative models of criminal justice, the role of tino rangatiratanga (Māori self-determination) in reducing crime and social harm, and the potential to reduce Māori over-representation in the system within an indigenous paradigm.

Link: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/news/2014/kim-workman-awarded-2015-j.d.-stout-fellowship


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