November 02, 2017
Control mentality blocking prison reform
A leading justice reform campaigner says the Corrections Department is a major barrier to reducing the prison population.
Kim Workman says many of the factors that have pushed the prison muster over 10,000 for the first time could be fixed quickly, such as rolling back the 2013 changes to bail laws that have resulted in disproportionate numbers of Maori being locked up.
He says Maori focus units and other kaupapa Maori initiatives have had limited impact because Corrections was unwilling to give up control.
That contrast with the police, who through intiatives like Turning the Tide, are giving iwi a greater say in how offenders can be dealt with.
"Unless they can let go and unless they can let kaupapa Maori justice operate within the prison system and the way in which Maori think about justice, the need to restore balance, the need to uphold mana, the need to recognise the tapu situations which offenders often find themselves in, will not get to where we want to be," Mr Workman says.
There hasn't been a proper review of penal policy since 1981, and new Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis needs to set up a royal commission or ministerial inquiry so there can be some well-informed strategies about what needs to be done.
Copyright © 2017, UMA Broadcasting Ltd: www.waateanews.com