Maori and the Criminal Justice System: Rethinking Crime and Punishment

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JustSpeak is set to have its official launch tomorrow night as well as presenting a position paper on Maori and the Criminal Justice system.

JustSpeak is a non-partisan network of young people encouraging a new generation of debate around criminal justice issues in order to achieve a more just Aotearoa.

The group is guided by a belief that young people have much to offer to the national conversation on criminal justice: amongst other things, young people bring an imaginative outlook; a feeling of urgency; and a sense of hope.
Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, said, JustSpeak is a response to the growing tendency to lock young people out of public dialogue while at the same time telling them they are masters of their fate. We cant have it both ways. 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.

Since forming at the beginning of 2011 as the youth arm of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, JustSpeak has gone on to promote debate by young people on criminal justice issues by holding monthly forums on such topics as Boot Camps (August); Preconceptions and Stereotyping (September); Desistance from Crime (October); Maori and the Criminal Justice System (November); Gangs (December); Drugs and Alcohol (February); Vulnerable Children (March); and Bail (April).

At the forum on Maori and the Criminal Justice system in November last year, Justice Joe Williams, Principal Youth Court Judge Becroft and Chuck Harris spoke to a group of 60 young people about their perspectives on the overrepresentation of Maori in the system and encouraged youth involvement in changing a broken justice system.

Ms Kate Stone, co-chair of JustSpeak, said the steering group of JustSpeak felt that Moana Jacksons report He Whaipaanga Hou (1988) posed many challenges which remain unanswered more than 20 years on. This position paper offers a fresh youth perspective on these significant issues.

Appropriately, Moana Jackson will be speaking at the JustSpeak launch tomorrow. The Hon Pita Sharples will open the event and Sir Edward “Eddie” Taihakurei Durie and Justice Joe Williams will also speak in support of the work JustSpeak is doing.
Media are invited to the launch of JustSpeak at 5.30pm on Tuesday 1 May, in the Nau Mai Room, Te Puni Kokiri House, 134 Lambton Quay, Wellington.

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