Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Any ideas?

A question is exercising me. Maori make up around 50 percent of the prison population. This has been the case since at least 1987 when the Prison Census showed 48 percent of inmates were Maori.

The question occupying me isn't, why is the proportion so high but, why hasn't the proportion gone higher? What has held it at roughly one half?


The rapidly growing representation in crime statistics post-war reflected the rapid urbanisation of Maori. But the young Maori population is still growing faster than the young non-Maori pop (except Pacific).

The fact that the Maori prison percentage hasn't continued to climb must be a good thing so what explains it?


Lewis said...

We're putting more people in jail - hence absolute numbers of Maori in prison have increased, but proportionally more non-Maori are going to jail?

mojo said...

Not 'diversion,' Lindsay?
Eons ago there were very few maori in alternative 'reform' services ... like psychiatric institutions, addiction services, prescribed social services, 'home detentions' and probation or organisation-supervised community work (as overcrowding in our prisons manifested), or perhaps the 'sleight of hand' introduced two thirds remission - nope, the latter would result in greater occupancy rate as per hospitals so, perhaps, demograhics as well. The number (ratio of maori to NZ euros.)always began to equalise with age( I think it could have been c. 48yrs), so perhaps an artefact of an ageing population.
Certainly not a function of greater educational achievement, perhaps simply 'diversion,' and an under resourced police force, so that lesser, albeit imprisonable offences are prosecuted less?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

With the higher prison population, more absolute numbers of Maori would require an increasingly higher per 10,000 population imprisonment rate than non-Maori as Maori are drawing from a much smaller population base.

So now you have made me think about the math, to maintain a 50 percent ratio in a growing prison population Maori have to be imprisoned at an increasing rate when compared to non-Maori.

So what I thought was a "good thing" actually isn't.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Mojo, Thoughtful, as always. Thanks.

Oswald Bastable said...

What the official stats try to sweep under the carpet, is the maori make up an even higher proportion of the more serious crimes, especialy those involving violence.

The proportions by offence type make for grim reading.

Anonymous said...

increasingly higher per 10,000 population imprisonment rate than non-Maori as Maori are drawing from a much smaller population base.

For what it's worth, not necessarily because Maori are increasing --- both absolutely, and relatively as a proportion of NZ's total population.

The question is: is the increase of prison population as a %age greater than the increase of maori as a %age. I'd guess, actually, that the answer is no.

To do this properly, don't fuck about with ratios and %ages. Get the raw numbers and work from there.

Anonymous said...

What definition is being used to determine who is Maori? Is it the legal definition of one 16th Maori?

To claim that a person is in prison because of their Maori heritage denies their Pakeha heritage and what effect that may have had on them so therefore funding to resolve the the high rate of Maori imprisonment based on race seems illogical and irrational and a knee-jerk reaction. I do not deny that poverty plays a role but the real question is why are those people poor be they Paheka or Maori.


Anonymous said...


report suggests Maori are getting further through the judicial system than non Maori due to a variety of features, apprehension rates, lack of legal counsel, implicit police profiling etc etc