Justice system "change needs to happen now" - Advocate

By Regan Paranihi

Justice Minister, Andrew Little, released two reports today which outlines a new direction for criminal justice reform.

The Turuki! Turuki! report that was compiled by Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora and the Te Tangi o te Manawanui: Recommendations for reform compiled by Chief Victims Advisor suggest the criminal justice system needs a fresh approach.

The government are leading the way forward to a better criminal justice system and Sir Kim Workman who is the former head of prisons, an ex-policeman and now justice reform campaigner welcomes this mornings announcement.

"Today we saw a government that was brave enough to accept that we have all this history that we need to correct."

Former National MP and Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora chair, Chester Borrows adds, "This is a major change in mindset from what we've been doing in prisons so far."

The criminal justice system has seen the over representation of Māori for many decades and these reports bring hope that that figure will decrease in the near future.

Minister Little says he and his team are committed to changing the statistics of Māori in the system as the numbers go beyond the criminal justice system. 

"The commitment is if we say we have a justice system and a prison system that kind of reflects our community having the massive overrepresentation of Māori in our prisons and our criminal justice system means we are nowhere near that."

Borrows says there are other viable options out there.

"Rehabilitation centres instead of prisons that's been a suggestion that is 30 years old it's in line with saying let's do more on a community based level but none of this stuff can happen at a click of a finger."

Both reports are calling on the government to make a change, and for Māori that time is now.

Julia Amua Whaipooti who is part of the Te Uepū Advisory Group says, "This is a moment in time of which change needs to happen and the change needs to happen now it's not something we wait for so that in another 30 years I have mokopuna talking about these same issues."

Minister Little adds, "This is a change that is going to take some years to put in place and we have to move at a pace where we take the community with us."

Further announcements on Justice reform will be made on Monday.