NZ Three Strikes Law will hit Maori HARDEST

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Metiria Turei, Green Party leader told Waatea News that the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill, which was being pushed through Parliament yesterday by National with ACT’s support, will further embed discrimination in the justice system against Maori.

This Government is not interested in what is fair or what is just. They’re not genuinely interested in Maori issues as we saw with what John Key did to Tuhoe. They’re trying to present a nice face but it’s crumbling and we’re starting to see the real National Party, their real attitudes to Maori in particular come through, Ms Turei says.

Maori already are more likely to be arrested and face longer sentences than non-Maori for similar crimes, so they are likely to run out of strikes much faster.

Under New Zealand’s new three strikes law, once an offender is convicted of a third serious offence the judge will have to impose the maximum sentence for the crime. The offender will not be eligible for parole while serving time for their third offence.

The law, which National and Act have agreed to pass, opens the way for huge inconsistencies in sentencing, and although ACT’s Rodney Hide suggests that our law is unlike the California law, however it is clear that we are not prepared for the unintended consequences of this law (something that California was similarly unprepared for and is now in crisis as a result).

The following highlights the consequences of the California law and some of the dire issues that have emerged.

For example more Californians are serving life sentences under the 3 strike law for drug possession then for second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon and rape combined.

So the argue is that the 3 strikes regime set out in the National Act bill is not the same as in California, but it does lead us down the same path, pretending that tougher and longer sentences will make us safer, despite all the evidence that the outcomes from such regimes are always that inmates, prison officers, police and the public will be less safe if this goes ahead.

In essence what it does is takes away the judicial discretion and replaces it with a system that simply doesn’t work. Other options could include lengthening sentences for violent crime giving judges more room to extend punishment instead of creating a system which is unable to take into account unique circumstances.

So it’s not surprising that the Corrections Association and the Maori Party are opposed to this bill.

President of the CaliforniaPrison Chaplin’sAssociation, Rev. Ron Givens,who visited New Zealand recently warning against us adopting a similar regime, told us that the Californian State budget spends the following:

  • 18% of its budget on Corrections,
  • less than 1% on primary school education (WOT!!!)

The Reverend gave a first-hand account to National Radio at how California’s three-strike law works. (duration: 17?03?)

Does this sound like the sort of social spending, or indeed the sort of society, that we aspire to?

The Californian State auditor has released a very frank, and frankly chilling, assessment of the consequences of that States 3 strikes legislation. The prison population in California now numbers close to 177,000.

The highlights of the report tell us that inmates incarcerated under the three strikes law (striker inmates):

  • Make up 25 percent of the inmate population as of April 2009.
  • Receive sentences that are, on average, nine years longer-resulting in about $19.2 billion in additional costs over the duration of their incarceration.
  • Include many individuals currently convicted for an offense that is not a strike, were convicted of committing multiple serious or violent offenses on the same day, and some that committed strikeable offenses as a juvenile.
  • Inmate health care costs are significant to the cost of housing inmates. In fiscal year2007-08, $529 million was incurred for contracted services by specialty health care providers.

Additionally:

  • 30 percent of the inmates receiving such care cost more than $427 million.
  • The costs for the remaining 70 percent averaged just over $1,000 per inmate.
  • The costs for those inmates who died during the last quarter ranged from $150 for one inmate to more than $1million for another
  • A significant portion of the increased workload due to medical guarding and transportation is covered throughovertime.
  • The large leave balances of custody staff, to which the furlough program has contributed a significant amount, will eventually cost the State from $546million to more than $1 billion.

In fact the 3 Strikes law has been so overwhelming in California that their prisons have been told that they MUST reduce their prison populations by 27%!!

Kia ora to David Clendon and his frogBlogfor this articulate korero.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Kia ora, my son was given a 3 strike warning today 11 October 2011, yes it is the last thing you want to hear as a parent for my boy has just turned 18, all his offences were commited as a juvinile, and even though we were very aware that he would have to be made accountable for what he had done, getting 3 strikes at his age is absolutely guttering to him and our whanau, were is the tautoko for our rangatira, in a society that would rather see our young be institutionalised and have no regards to dealing with the core of the problem, alcohol, drugs, and low self esteem. All the putea they put towards building new prisons, hiring staff, accommodation, kare it doesnt take a genious to figure out the maths, why cant it go towards helping our rangatira, how about opening programmes that help reform our people especially our rangatira, to help them build skills, to help them build self confidence, to give them back some self control, and help them realise that they are MANA TOA, MANA MAORI. TAUTOKO RANGATIRA. Kia Ora.

  2. I totally dont agree with this 3 strikes and your out. Much research has proven indigenous cultures will be badly represented by this law. It has been proven indigenous people will serve longer jail sentences and are more likely to end up in jail for the same crime compared to non-indigenous peoples. If our jails become privatised, Im hoping Maori are going to play a big part in this this because lets face it, if this 3 strikes becomes law, its going to be Maori who will be the majority resisdents and they are going to need Maori to represent them in these jails.And it wont be good if someone who is not Maori, is going to run these prisons. Rehabilitation is the key to keeping Maori out of jail and rehab is not in the jails now.

  3. "California's Three Strikes law is irrational, unsustainable and at the core of the prison and budget woes that have devastated the state. There are no academic statistics anywhere that prove it has done one thing to reduce crime. Our violent crime rate is still 11% above the national average, while New York, who has used opposite methods of rehabilitation has fallen dramatically well below national averages. Why is New Zealand using a failed model instead of a successful one?"

    From the Sacramento Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/x-13450-Sacramento-Prison

  4. The hinaki is a nasty trap. Keeping our men out of Te Whareherehere should be the main priority of all the major iwi instead of investing in purely business oriented ventures.

    He aha te mea nui o te ao? He Putea? He Putea? He Putea? Kao, kei te he tera whakaaro.

    Mehemea kaore tatou kia whakarereke haere te huarahi o nga mau herehere maori, kei te haere tonu te wehenga o te whanau, a ka mate te ao maori.

  5. The problem is not the prisons or three strikes. The problem is why are our people in there in the first place?? We need to keep our people out of these disempowering institutions and recoup Mana Maori within Maoridom. We have too many whanaunga who are strangers to the atea … don't know who they are .. have lost the love of the whanau … the forgotten. The three strikes is a bad omen for our people who do find themselves in these institutions .. but the real focus should be to keep them OUT of these institutions instead of crying about what happens when they are in there.

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