Teina Pora just spent 22 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to spend the peak of your years behind bars as an innocent person, while those who are clearly guilty roam free.
Even though Pora’s Foetal Alcohol Syndrome wasn’t mentioned until the Privy Council and the condition wasn’t as well known as it is now, it shows how the police can treat those with mental health conditions. These injustices and unfair treatments continue today even though we now have more of an understanding about mental health than we did before.
The authority complex of the police can put great amounts of pressure on anyone. Even I tighten up when I see a cop around even when I’m not even doing anything wrong. This isn’t meant to be the case in a healthy society.
In the USA, people with mental disabilities such as Down syndrome or autism have been beaten up and sometimes even killed because of misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge about their situations.
American police are obviously more trigger-happy than New Zealand police, but if things continue as they have been we can head in that general direction where they act before they think. Some mental illnesses are harder to spot than others, which make the need to be extra careful and understanding that much more necessary.
It could be far-fetched to compare New Zealand with USA but no matter the degrees of intensity the fact remains that police brutality is on the rise throughout the world. If we’re not careful we’ll continue to have innocent people, who are already marginalised and misunderstood in society being ill treated and humiliated for no reason whatsoever by the very people who are supposed to protect us.