12 Nov 2016

Treatment of terminally ill prisoner racist - Māori Party

10:06 am on 12 November 2016

The treatment of a terminally ill prisoner by the Parole Board was an example of institutional racism, the Māori Party says.

Vicki Letele

Vicki Letele Photo: Supplied

The Parole Board declined Letele's initial request to be freed from her sentence for fraud because of her stomach cancer, but reversed that decision on Thursday after a vocal campaign by her family and supporters.

Letele, who was serving a three-year jail term, was allowed to return home on compassionate grounds on Thursday.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said there was prejudice against Ms Letele because she was Māori.

Ms Fox said a Pākehā woman convicted of fraud was recently excused from a prison sentence because she had two young children.

"Yes, people need to have a punishment that fits the crime, but why were we not using the same ruler?" she said.

"Because if we were using the same ruler there would not be a disparity between Māori and non-Māori, Pasifika and non-Pasifika."

She said institutions and the public needed to acknowledge unconscious bias, treat prisoners as people, and provide better healthcare options.

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