Wednesday, August 26, 2009

maori and prison

i did a little double-take on this one, until I actually read it.

"Maori are set to become landlords of a prison for the first time in a deal where Corrections will rent the grounds of Wanganui's Kaitoke Prison from tribal interests.

A similar deal is underway with Wellington's Rimutaka and Arohata prisons with an agreement in principle for the ownership of the land beneath them to go to Maori.

The deals are all based on the agreement that Maori will rent the land back to the Corrections Department, which will retain control of the buildings."

So that is good - the land the prisons are on is good land and maori are being given it back. And they will rent it to corrections for a market price.

"Maori ownership of prison land is separate from the concept of Maori managing prisons raised recently by the National-led Government's plans for private prison management.

It does raise the future possibility that a prison's land could be owned by Maori and its management contracted to Maori, with the Government's only role being tenant and owner of the buildings."

I have heard a number of arguments around this issue. It does seem strange considering maori owned and operated prisons filled with ever increasing numbers of maori because the system fails them. Are the wardens then part of the problem not the solution? Do we really want maori being the jailers for other maori?

The other side is, we actually need to address this problem. We need to rehabilitate and help these prisoners - and they are prisoners, not just physically but mentally.

Sharples has been to oz and seen how we could develop approaches that actually reduce the chance of reoffending. Should maori be the jailers of maori? Perhaps the answer is, "better them than someone else."

Getting maori involved in owning and running the prisons where many of our young people end up - makes sense. Capture them, teach them, entice them, energise them, empower them. All from a base of maoritanga. Really - what other choice is there?

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