Press Release – The Maori Party
National and Labour are too busy politicking, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust is too busy protecting its role as a lobby group, for any of them to help cut crime, the Maori Party says.MEDIA STATEMENT
The Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Tamaki Makaurau
4 October 2011
Politicking won’t cut crime, says Maori Party
National and Labour are too busy politicking, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust is too busy protecting its role as a lobby group, for any of them to help cut crime, the Maori Party says.
“The most recent crime figures show significant reductions in most categories. Labour and National are falling over each other, trying to claim credit for getting tough on crims,” says Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples.
“The Police themselves say this reduction in crime is due to a focus on crime prevention and innovative approaches to policing; and the Maori Party would agree with them on that,” he said.
“New Zealand needs fresh approaches to reducing the impacts of offending on our communities – not a chorus of voices calling for more prisons and harsher sentences.
“The Maori Party’s review of the criminal justice system will investigate and analyse the facts as the basis for better policy. It might also expose the role of scaremongers like the Sensible Sentencing Trust, whose thirst for punishment and retribution is part of the problem with the criminal justice system.
“No sentence, however harsh, will bring back a murder victim. Prevention is the only cure, and a lasting solution will come from empowering families and communities to take control over their situation by reaching out and looking after each other in times of need,” said Dr Sharples.
“Whanau Ora has been rolled out nationwide for over a year now. We have funded 500 mara kai, community gardens, to strengthen community networks, build resilience and help to feed poorer families. We have Kaitoko Whanau and Oranga Whanau workers visiting families in their communities to support and help them with parenting and social issues. These are practical programmes that make an immediate difference.
“The Maori Party’s focus is on preventing offending, and rehabilitating offenders into their communities. We need to invest in the future of our families and children, not to spend more on prisons to lock up the parents.
“Offending creates victims. We need to look after them – including the innocent families of offenders. They suffer when a conviction limits work or travel, when families can’t pay fines, and when children are separated from parents and have to live with the shame and stigma of imprisonment,” he said.
“The evidence shows that the system creates far more Maori victims than any other group. We are not saying all Police, judges and politicians are racist, but the system is clearly biased at every step along the way to prison.
“Injustice is compounded when Maori do not bother even trying to defend themselves, because they know the system is stacked against them.
“As taxpayers and citizens, we are all dragged down as more and more public spending becomes counter-productive – national resources are tied up in prisons instead of schools and clinics.
“Our review is not an attack on the justice system, it’s a search for a better way to achieve justice,” said Dr Sharples.