Mr Speaker, prison statistics tell us that even though Maori are only 14% of the population we are 50% of the prison muster, and have been so for more than 20 years, but if you think that's bad, believe me, this 3 strikes bill is going to make it much, much worse because without decent rehabilitation programs, first strikers and second strikers will carry on getting it wrong because they're not learning anything, they're simply reacting to problems in the only way they know, and they're gonna get hammered.
And because I suspect a lot of people in this house don't believe me, I recommend that they read the countless reports which vividly detail the historical tragedy of systemic bias and outright bloody racism against Maori in respect of arrests, charges, convictions and jail sentences - reports which tell us that given equal numbers of Pakeha and Maori being arrested for similar incidents, the ones who are more likely to get charged are the Maori ones, reports which tell us that given equal numbers of Pakeha and Maori going to court on similar charges, the ones who are more likely to get convicted are the Maori ones, reports which tell us that given equal numbers of Pakeha and Maori being convicted on similar charges, the ones who are more likely to get sentenced to jail are the Maori ones. and reports which tell us that given equal numbers of Pakeha and Maori getting sent to jail on similar charges, the ones who are more likely to get the longer sentences are the Maori ones.
I accept there is a degree of racism inherent amongst the police and in the courts. However the overriding reason Maori make up 50 percent of the prison population is that they are, to use Hone's term, committing crimes and appearing in court in equal numbers. If they were committing crime and appearing in court at the same rate as non-Maori they would be appearing in unequal numbers.
Mr Speaker - it's a short-sighted man who thinks that legislation sending people to jail for a long time reduces crime rates; it's a blind man who sees justice in sentencing people to life for responding to circumstances they have little control over; and it's a bloody fool who thinks that this bill will do anything else but create frustration, anger and violence within our prison population, an anger that will explode at any reason and at any time, because when you're in jail for life, the only question you consider when faced with conflict is not "what can happen to me if I do this" no it's "what else can they do to me?"
And when politicians talk about a safe society, let me ask this question - what about the next generation who have to grow up with the children of those who have been jailed for life, children who grow up with a deep-seated and very real hatred of society for a life below the margins that they have been forced to lead, a hatred that will be visited back upon society through ever-increasing rates of mayhem and murder.
Here I believe Hone is on quite firm ground. If you attend a court and listen to Maori speaking bitterly amongst themselves about the Pakeha system you will quickly realise why their young are likely to follow suit. I even heard one angry man urging another to bring his kids to court to see what they could expect when it was their turn. The chance that a Maori child will follow a parent or other relative to prison is higher as shown by the following table (respondent = prisoner);
I full well know what Three Strikes is supposed to achieve but my instincts about what the unintended consequences will be would have made me vote against the bill.