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Maori and the Criminal Justice System: A New Perspective, He Whaipaanga Hou

NCJ Number
M Jackson
Date Published
51 pages
This paper addresses the problem of the disproportionately high rate of Maori offending and criminal justice system involvement in New Zealand and considers methodological issues involved in understanding Maori offending.
A review of the existing literature is unable to provide substantive explanations of the high Maori crime rates. Previous studies have focused on ethnic group comparisons, socioeconomic factors, and sociopsychological indexes. The failure of such studies is a function of a descriptive approach and an inherent sociocultural bias. To be meaningful, research into Maori offending must view the Maori as a distinct group shaped by both internal and external forces. An ethnospecific methodology combined with an analysis of systemic responses to the Maori offender is needed. Such research must be based on a process of consultation with Maori people through forums with tribal groups. Such consultation must be oral and draw heavily on the traditional Maori structure of decisionmaking. Preliminary offender-based consultations indicate a need to further investigate causes and effects of tribal dislocation, unemployment, and cultural stereotyping. Consultations on the justice system indicate that the Maori perceive all processes from arrest through sentencing as unfair and unjust. 62 notes and references.