It’s Time For Justice

by / 07/05/12

Justspeak brings Maori lens to legal system.

Maori continue to be overrepresented at every stage of the criminal justice system, according to a position paper released last Tuesday by recently launched youth advocacy group JustSpeak.

The paper “Maori and the Criminal Justice System: A Youth Perspective” addresses the issue of how the criminal justice system deals with Maori and aims to encourage discussion and debate about the topic, and suggests potential solutions to the challenges.

Coordinator and co-chair of JustSpeak, Kate Stone believes that twenty years after issues about Maori in the justice system were first raised; the issues have still not been dealt with.

“We still aren’t prepared to talk about [the issues] and that’s what this exercise is about; saying we actually need to talk about it, we need to progress the debate because in twenty years it hasn’t really progressed that much,” Stone said.

At the presentation of the position paper, Hon Dr Pita Sharples praised the group for “getting real”.

“I want to thank [JustSpeak] for urging the rest of us to get real. The problems are real, so the solutions have to be real,” he said.

Potential solutions suggested in the paper include showcasing more positive stories about Maori and the criminal justice system in the media and establishing a “Maori lens for policy”.

The paper has been described as “unique” because it comes from the perspective of young people, with a position of urgency, but also a position of idealism and hope.

Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, Kim Workman, said, “If we want a better society we must engage with those who will one day steer the ship. We need to listen more carefully to what young people are saying.”

JustSpeak is a non-partisan group of young people who hope to achieve a more just Aotearoa by stimulating debate around criminal justice issues.

“It is about advocating for positive change to the criminal system and avoiding the polarized debate that tends to occur,” said Stone.

To find out more about JustSpeak, visit their website: www.justspeak.org.nz.

FACTS & FIGURES & THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

  • ▴  Maori account for over 50% of the prison population.
  • ▴  Maori women comprise around 60% of the female prison population.
  • ▴  Young Maori males are 30% more likely to be prosecuted by police, than none Maori males of the same age, who commit the same crime.
  • ▴  The rate of imprisonment for the non- Maori is around 100 per 100,000.
  • ▴  The rate of imprisonment for Maori is approximately six times that.

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