Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hone Harawira on Three Strikes

Hone Harawira speaking against the Three Strikes Bill makes a couple of interesting points;

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.


Anonymous said...

Um, Hone seems to be saying that while not in jail, Maori cannot make decisions based on the probably consequences, but while in jail they can.

Which is it?

If Maori can make decisions based on the consequences (ie guaranteed jail time - potentially for life) then wouldn't that reduce crime?


KG said...

Hone is simply perpetuating the myth of Maori as helpless victims.
The truth of the matter is Maori have the same choices and the same opportunities as anybody else. And plenty of Maori make the most of those opportunities.
The way forward for Maori isn't to excuse failure, to lessen consequences--the way forward must be to apply the law in a colour-blind way and to hold Maori to the same standards as everybody else.
To do anything else is to promote separatism.
Plenty of European kids come from poor, dysfunctional families too and those are the factors which need to be addressed. Bringing race and culture into the discussion just muddies the waters and does Maori no favours in the long run.

ZenTiger said...

I thought the three strikes law was about repeat, excessively violent offenders.

If we were talking about shop lifting, he's got a good point. But we are not.

We are talking about excessively violent repeat offenders. And they may well be beating Maori to death and sending a much worse signal to the survivors than white man's rough justice.

That has to have some bearing on this conversation, surely?

Anonymous said...

This is about the worst recidivist offenders so no problem with that.
The more important question must surely be; What are we doing wrong in NZ that is causing so many young men to finish up in prison, both black and white.
This has been the question for the last 20 or so years. The question that our Govt. doesn't see fit to address.
Well lets put forward a few ideas from an older perspective.

Young men are diifferent, they are not girls, they are often not overly interested at a young age in being in a n environment that is full of sit down, shut up do this, do that you're dumb, girls can do anything but boys are stupid,academia is the only answer. The answer to what.

Our high schools have been dumbed down to the extent that unless you are academic a young man become a displaced person. Treated by (mostly women), with disdain.

More insult is added to that injury by politicians who decide d that they also know best about a young man and he can now no longer leave that toxic environment and join a workforce. He has to remain at school in an unsuccessful, environment so learns to fail. And that's what many at school do learn, HOW TO FAIL IN LIFE.

A young man at 15 can no longer go to an employer and say pay me $300 a week and teach me about this.
Young men used to say to their Dads " I want to leave school" and the answer usually was "when you get a job"

So as well as failing at school and being taught life is failure unless you follow the rules they are also locked out of any chance of stepping up from that failure.

Many of us in the slightly older generation can espouse about the very wealthy people they know who became that way despite leaving school at 13 or 14. So being at school is not a determinant of success. Being able to work almost certainly is. Giving out benefits is surely not but giving a hand up via the workplace certainly is. And education is just not sitting on ones arse at school, education and learning and inspiration requires daily work and commitment. Every now and then one of those people creates world changing idea's.

The problem now is that apart from not being allowed to employ young men at an important age where they can be mentored by men in a stable work place we are also forced by regulation, that was clearly intended to disenfranchise young people from the workplace, to pay at a rate that isn't justified by the value of the work. i.e. we cannot pay trainee wages.

So the many thousands of jobs that would be done by these young men (and some times women) have been exported to China.
We compound the problem by bringing into NZ people from other countries. We disinherit our young men to replace them with immigrants. I put that in the treason category.
The taxpayer is left with non productive angry young men who naturally take their grievances out on our society.
The taxpayer is left with paying benefits to these young men and housing them in jails at further cost.
Is it the fault of our young men that they get angry instead of being able to fulfill their days in useful work. Not in my opinion.

mojo said...

Mmmm ... you probably should have let this one go Lindsay.
A crime is a crime because it is legislated such .. to try to offer 'some systemic bias' as an explanation for overstepping that mark and consequences is probably indicative of that 'systemic bias.'
I am sure some should always be able to violate with impunity because of, well, whatever reason, Hone will know.
Courts have always been biased ... perhaps the most obvious one being recency of similar horrendous offence ... & probably rightly so.
As I have said before, the number of maori incarcerated decreases as a function of age, & I believe proportionality becomes representative of overall demographics ... this suggests that maori are but slow learners ... nihilisic & hedonistic character takes a whiles to moderate.

Anonymous said...

eresting support for my comments about non Kiwi's.

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