Legacy of colonisation still has impact on justice system, lawyer says

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Monday, 10 June 2019, 4:47PM

There are no rational reasons for why Maori are treated differently in the justice system, a lawyer says. 

The criminal justice system has come under fire after a damning report that laid bare the many issues throughout the system. 

An advisory group report recommends a complete overhaul of the system, which it says is failing offenders, victims, and communities.

Kingi, who works as a defence lawyer in Manukau, told Andrew Dickens that this is an area New Zealand has been lacking coverage on.

He says that, until things change, unconscious bias and colonisation have played a big part of these issues. 

"The legacy of colonisation is still alive today. The fact that if you are a Maori person charged with the same crime as a non-Maori person, you are more likely to be arrested for that crime, you are more likely to face charges in the court, you are more likely to go to jail. There's evidence to suggest that Maori are treated differently."

Kingi wants to see fewer people end up in the justice system, as young Maori men in the system “more often than not” they graduate to prison.

“Once you’re in prison, that’s real university for becoming a seasoned criminal.”

He says that it is easy for people to say that they simply need to stop committing crimes, and it's easy for people who have never suffered prejudice. 

"If you are Maori or Pasifika, you are treated differently, and the Police have admitted that." 

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