March 14, 2016
Challenge for Corrections to do the right thing
Labour’s Corrections spokesperson, Kelvin Davis, says the Corrections Department shouldn’t wait for the Waitangi Tribunal before it tried to reform its prisons.
In June the tribunal has will hold an urgent hearing top a claim by retired probation officer Tom Hemopo, backed by Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Pahauwera, that the crown is failing to reduce the number of Maori in prison and high reoffending rates.
Mr Davis says Maori make up more than half the prison population, and within five years of release half of them will be back inside.
"The rehabilitation programmes don't work. The reintegration programme is almost non-existent. As the prison programme heads towards 10,000, that means more and more Maori are going to be locked up. Prisons are huge recruiting grounds for gangs. That means we are just going to perpetuate the cycle of Maori being locked up, breaking the law. Things have got to change," he says.
Mr Davis says Police have admitted systemic bias, and it’s time for Corrections to take a similar look at itself.
Prime Minister John Key told Newstalk ZB today the Government is doing enough to prevent recidivism amongst Maori, and every prison is now a working prison where inmates get skills or trades, as well as drug or alcohol treatment if they want.
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