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Offending by Māori - you have to face it to fix it

Offending by Māori - you have to face it to fix it

The Department of Corrections seems to be hiding its head in the sand when it comes to reducing the level of Māori in the criminal justice system," says Kim Workman, strategic adviser to JustSpeak.

In recent years Corrections has used its own measure to record the percentage of Māori prisoners (a prison census it carries out annually on 31 December). Stats NZ's official figure is based on the number of Māori sentenced to prison during the course of a year. In its most recent report, Corrections claims that only 50% of all prisoners are Maori, whereas Stats NZ puts the figure at 55.7 percent. The difference is significant and raises the question as to why Corrections has chosen to publish the lower figure.

The Salvation Army’s State of the Nation report helps put the public right and calculates that there are about 1000 more Māori in prison than a decade ago.

“What is more concerning is that Corrections is no longer publicly reporting the ethnicity of prisoners. That is probably because,as the report points out, the Māori imprisonment rate rose more sharply during 2014/15 to reach an average of 693 prisoners per 100,000 population for the year to 30 June 2015, up from an average of 674 per 100,000 the previous year. For the 2014/15 fiscal year, the Māori imprisonment rate was 7.0 times that of non- Māori, a record difference equalled only in the 2011/12 fiscal year.

“It is a sad day when the public have to rely on the Salvation Army to provide good information about Māori in the criminal justice system” says Kim Workman. “The old adage, ‘you have to face it to fix it”, surely applies’. There are many willing to get involved in reducing these numbers, but they need the information first.”

ends

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