November 12, 2015
Tribunal puts Corrections Claim on fast track
The Waitangi Tribunal has agreed to hold an urgent hearing about the number of Maori in prison and high reoffending rates.
Retired probation officer Tom Hemopo says the Crown has failed to do enough to address the disproportionate number of Maori in prison.
Maori make up 15 percent of population but account for half of all men and 63 percent of all women in prison.
Reoffending rates are significantly higher than for any other ethnicity, with more than half of Maori offenders back in prison within five years of release.
Mr Hemopo says Corrections let its Maori Strategic Plan lapse in 2013 without any consultation with Maori and since then it has had no strategy to address Maori reoffending.
The Corrections Claim is backed by Hawke’s Bay iwi Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust and the Takitimu District Maori Council.
A hearing will be held in the middle of 2016.
Waitangi Tribunal deputy chair Judge Patrick Savage says if Mr Hemopo’s claim is right, many young Maori men and women in the Corrections system face imminent and perhaps irreversible prejudice.
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