1 Oct 2010

Native Hawaiians shown to get unfair treatment in Hawaii justice sytem

9:54 am on 1 October 2010

New research suggests that native Hawaiians are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system in Hawaii.

An Office of Hawaiian Affairs study is entitled The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System.

It says native Hawaiians are more likely to be jailed and receive longer prison terms compared with other ethnicities.

The study also contains first-hand accounts from native Hawaiians about the impact of the judicial system on their families and culture.

Ron Becker, a criminal justice professor at Chaminade University and a former judge, says socio-economics is a key factor when deciding sentencing and parole.

"Our system is somewhat designed to prejudice those who can't afford the best representation, who haven't got ties and relationships to the community. Being poor today is as much of a crime, as being a person of colour."