New Zealand has the second highest incarceration rate in the OECD and prison numbers continue to rise even though crime rates are falling.
Government spends billions of taxpayer dollars every year putting people in jail, mostly for low-level crimes linked to drug and alcohol abuse, and petty issues like licence and bail infringements, and statistics confirm that it is Māori who are most likely to be stopped, detained, charged, imprisoned and given longer sentences.
The current system is deeply racist, slow, expensive and driven by policies of punishment rather than rehabilitation, and people end up going back to jail because prison doesn’t help them develop personal skills and because it is hard for people coming out from prisons to get jobs.
Jail casts a long shadow over the whānau and children of those in prison.
It does not have to be this way.
MANA supports a kaupapa Māori based justice system
- that properly addresses the colonisation and racism behind the devastating poverty that Māori and Pasifika face, and the consequences of that abuse including: unemployment, homelessness, ill health, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, violence, suicide, and the diseases and devastation of child poverty that we will be paying for generations to come
- that includes
- a focus on dealing with the causes of crime rather than just the effects
- a dedicated Māori response to reverse the racism of the present system which arrests and imprisons Māori in disproportionately high numbers
- a halt to and a timeline to reduce the number of prisons in New Zealand
- replacing punitive imprisonment with restorative and community justice options and habilitation centres as recommended by the 1989 Roper Report
MANA policy priorities are to:
Focus on the causes of crime
- Focus on the causes of crime as well as the actions of crime, by developing programmes and measures to properly addresses the colonisation and racism behind the devastating poverty that Māori and Pasifika face, and the consequences of that abuse including: unemployment, homelessness, ill health, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, violence, suicide, and the diseases and devastation of child poverty that we will be paying for generations to come
- Begin to reduce violence by addressing bullying and family violence early
- Transform the social welfare system into a supportive environment rather than the current punitive, compliance-based model
Eliminate racism in the police
- Increase the funding and focus on Māori police liaison and community policing
- Eliminate police racial profiling and racism by rigorous monitoring of police activity
- Make the Independent Police Complaints Authority a truly independent authority, with an autonomous Māori unit to review Māori complaints
Reduce prison numbers
- Reduce the overall imprisonment rate by one third, by:
- Ensure only violent or sexual offenders, large-scale drug dealers and those facing sentences of five years or more in prison are held on remand (a 30% reduction or 1200 per year)
- Divert those convicted of non-violent crimes due to their own drug or alcohol addiction to Māori and/or community-based addiction services (a 33% reduction or 3000 per year)
Replace prisons with other options
- Set a timeframe for the reduction in the number of prisons in NZ
- Investigate the range of non-custodial options
- Fully finance the establishment of a Māori habilitation centre in Tai Tokerau
- Develop habilitation centres focused on restorative and community justice
Reform prisons for serious offenders
- Reform remaining prisons into places where even the most serious offenders get treatment for their mental health and addiction problems, access to skill development and work opportunities
Invest in community-based restorative systems
- Increase funding for restorative, marae and community-based dispute resolution processes