Time to abolish prisons - Moana Jackson

By Ripeka Timutimu

Māori Law academic Moana Jackson is calling for the abolition of prisons in NZ and says Ngāti Kahungunu would set up their own system to deal with tribal members that commit crime. Jackson presented his evidence at an urgent hearing before the Waitangi Tribunal over the alleged failure by the government to address the high Māori prison population.

Jackson wants prisons gone.

“It's now known as de-carceration that you begin to move away from a method of dealing with wrong-doing to a system that looks at restorations and reciprocity and eventually could lead to the abolition of prisons.”

Jackson is giving evidence in support of Tom Hemopo's WAI 2540 claim. He says Ngāti Kahungunu has their own solutions for those who commit crime.

“It would not be a prison it would be a kaupapa Māori based place in which the reasons for their wrong-doing would be addressed and the whānau helped to recover and so on.”

Jackson says Māori men make up around 50% of the prison population, but Māori women are even worse off.

“The rate of Maori men in prison has stayed high at 52% but the rate for women has risen from 3% to over 60% and it’s actually a crisis that needs to be addressed.”

The hearing continues this week.