Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Mike Butler: Blaming racism for incarceration
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is still alleging police, courts, and Corrections racism for the high rate of incarceration of Maori and has got a visiting United Nations delegation to go along with his story. Flavell raised the issue about a year ago when told parliament that “for the 3495 theft apprehensions recorded as Caucasian there were 588 prosecutions; and for Maori, for the 5660 apprehensions recorded, 1173 resulted in prosecution—in other words, prosecution rates of 16.8 percent versus 20.7 percent”.
Flavell went on to claim that “if a Maori teen and a pakeha teen are apprehended for the same crime, the young Maori is more likely to be prosecuted while the Pakeha youth is more likely to get off. Does this not raise questions of fairness and of discrimination in those people who would be sceptical of institutional racism?”
But Flavell did not consider that if 5660 thefts by Maori were recorded, compared with 3495 non-Maori, not only were there more thefts by Maori, but there were proportionally many more since Maori only make up 16 percent of the population.
Flavell’s figures do show that Maori had a higher prosecution race for thefts, although the 3.9 percent margin is slender.
While Flavell and the UN delegation may want people to believe that numerous Maori are in jail because of racist police, judges, and prison officers, they still have to explain the much higher rate of apprehensions of Maori for theft, bearing in mind that for an offender to be sent to court there has to be sufficient evidence.
Flavell’s source of information was JustSpeak, a group that describes itself as non-partisan youth network seeking change in New Zealand’s criminal justice system. The data, that came from police statistics for 2011, looks at prosecution vs total apprehension numbers for 10- to 16-year-olds.
Since thefts are just one category of criminal offences, here are the figures for 15 categories of criminal offences in the JustSpeak stats:
Except for offences against justice procedures, in which many more Caucasians (44 percent) were prosecuted than Maori (15.3 percent), and except for the three homicides by youth in that year in which no Caucasians were prosecuted for the one homicide and two Maori were prosecuted for the two homicides, and apart from dangerous or negligent acts, there is a slightly higher prosecution rate for Maori, that being an average of 6.53 percent.
But the total number of offences by young Maori in that year was 18,003 and for Caucasian 11,686 – which means there are still many more and proportionally many more by Maori since, as already mentioned, Maori only make up 16 percent of the population.
Here is a question for Flavell and the UN delegation: How does alleging police, courts, and Corrections racism solve the high rate of offending by young Maori?
at 12:59 PM