22 Feb 2011

'Crisis point' reached over mass imprisonment of Maori

6:29 pm on 22 February 2011

The head of the prison reform group Rethinking Crime and Punishment says the mass imprisonment of Maori has reached crisis point.

Kim Workman told the Cost of Crime conference in Wellington on Monday that there were major social consequences to locking up a sizeable proportion of a population.

Mr Workman subsequently told Waatea News that 40% of all Maori males over 15 have been imprisoned or have served a community sentence.

"The implications of that are quite disastrous," he says, citing the example of a job ad seeking six drivers for three months but stipulating that applicants must have no criminal convictions - "so that the 40% that have been in prison or have served a community sentence are not eligible for those jobs".

Mr Workman says he wants to see some independent research into the implications of Maori being six times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Maori.