25 Jun 2014

Prison report 'highlights discrimination'

7:19 am on 25 June 2014

The Prison Reform Society says a new report calling for changes to New Zealand's jail system shows how severely young Maori are disadvantaged.

The report, 'Unlocking Prisons', is published by JustSpeak, a network of young people advocating reform of the criminal justice system.

The report says at any one time, about 20,000 children in Aotearoa have a parent in prison and those children are far more likely to become offenders themselves.

Prison Reform Society president Peter Williams QC said many of those tamariki will be Maori.

Mr Williams, who has been involved in penal reform for many years, said young Maori were herded into prisons and their future could be destroyed as they do not get much assistance or support in jail or afterwards.

He said it was very difficult for them to get employment and have a career once they had been through the prison system.

Mr Williams said farms on Maori land should be established that allowed young Maori prisoners to learn farming skills and also share in the profits.