An attempt to address Māori reoffending rates launched

The biggest problem with Māori imprisonment levels is that too many Māori get involved in crime in the first place.

People identifying as Māori make up about 15% of the new Zealand population, but just over half of those in prison are Māori.

Ethnicity of Prisoners (March 2019)

However it is very difficult to deal with problems before they manifest themselves as criminal activities.  High recidivism rates are also a major problem.

Corrections: Re-imprisonment rates by ethnicity

The re-imprisonment rate over 48 months for Maori offenders (55%) is considerably higher than the rate for both NZ Europeans (45%) and Pacific offenders (36%).

graph-6

Overall recidivism rates are bad, but especially so for Māori

So the Government are trying to break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment with a new plan. It will take time to tell how effective it will be, but different ways of addressing the problem have to be tried to try and turn things around.

Announced yesterday:


A whānau-centred pathway to break the cycle of Māori reoffending

The Government has today announced it is taking action on the long-term challenge of Māori reoffending rates and delivering on its target to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent, with the creation of a new Māori Pathway at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison and Northland Region Corrections Facility.

This initiative will be co-designed and implemented by Māori, with Corrections, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) working together in partnership with hapū and iwi. It will initially focus on Māori men under 30 years of age, as this group has the highest reconviction and reimprisonment rates. The Pathway will enable people to experience a kaupapa Māori and whānau-centred approach for all of their time with Corrections, from pre-sentence to reintegration and transition in their community.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says the $98 million Wellbeing Budget investment is a major first step in changing the way Corrections operates to help break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment.

“We are acknowledging that our system does not work for the majority of Māori. The answer is not another programme. This is a new pathway for people in prison and their whānau to walk together. This is a system change and a culture change for our prisons – and that change starts today,” Kelvin Davis said.

“The Māori Pathway delivers on a number of our Government’s priorities. It’s about reducing reoffending so there are fewer victims of crime, building closer partnerships with Māori, and enabling us to keep delivering on our target to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent.

“This is a great example of the Wellbeing approach in action, with a number of agencies working together to target long-term change.”

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare acknowledges his colleagues Kelvin Davis and Carmel Sepuloni for being bold and taking a whānau-centred approach to their mahi.

“This is real progress towards incorporating Whānau Ora into their portfolios and agencies, extending Government support and buy-in to the Whānau Ora approach, as recommended by Tipu Mātoro ki te Ao,” Peeni Henare said.

“Whānau Ora successfully supports positive outcomes for whānau because it recognises the power of the collective and promotes self-determination. It is a holistic and strengths-based approach, allowing whānau to define and work towards their own aspirations. This is an important step for Government to improve whānau wellbeing.”

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says MSD is committed to supporting the person and their whānau to achieve their goals.

“This is an exciting initiative which aligns with recommendations in the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s report to improve outcomes for Māori and enhance support for people in prisons,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Update on 3 strikes

Graeme Edgeler has obtained better statistics related to 3 strikes offending and recidivism that suggests there is a bit of a reduction in recidivism rates that may or may not be due to deterrence from 3 strikes – due to longer sentences it may simply be that longer sentences delays the opportunity to re-offend.

Three Strikes five years on! Now with accurate numbers!

A month ago, I retracted a piece I wrote in 2015 looking at the first five years of the three strikes sentencing regime for serious violent crime, attempting to see how the first five years after three strikes compared to the five years before three strikes.

As detailed in that retraction, the comparisons I then made were invalid. The two sets of data I was comparing were not comparable. I now have this data, following contact by the Ministry of Justice after my retraction (and Nikki Macdonald’s excellent work in the Dominion Post) was published

The comparison between the years before and after the coming into force is less stark, but there remains a reduction in strike recidivism beyond that in strike crime generally.

The extent to which this fall can be attributed to three strikes remains anyone’s guess.

In the five years prior to three strikes:

  • 5517 people were convicted of an offence where that conviction would have been a ‘first strike’ had three strikes been in force at the time
  • 103 were convicted of an offence that would have been a ‘second strike’

In the first five years after three strikes came into effect:

  • 5248 offenders received a ‘first strike’ (that is, a “stage-1 conviction” under the three strikes sentencing regime)
  • 68 offenders received a ‘second strike’.

That’s a reduction in offences of about 5%, and a reduction of 34% in second strike offences, albeit on low numbers.

In addition, no-one was convicted of a third strikes in three strikes’ first five years, while four people were convicted of what would have been third strikes in the preceding five years, and two of them also racked up what would have been fourth strikes.

The bald numbers provide no evidence that the existence of formal strike warnings has a deterrent effect, and arguments about what caused.

Correlation but not necessarily causation.

Though the numbers are low, the lack of third and fourth strikes could well be a consequence of incapacity, rather than deterrence – a second strike conviction means the offender is ineligible for parole, so result in longer times spent in prison.

So the jury is still out on the effectiveness of 3 strikes.

But imprisonment numbers continue to increase, as do the associated costs.