The New Zealand justice system does more harm than good and must be completely rebuilt from the ground up, according to a radical report into the state of justice in New Zealand published by anti-colonial socialist group, Organise Aotearoa. The report has been made public on Organise Aotearoa’s website.
The report finds that practices in New Zealand’s prison system are incompatible with rehabilitation or social reintegration, with widespread use of solitary confinement, humiliating strip searches, and double bunking, which are in violation of international human rights conventions.
“In 2017, when the Labour government came into power, they promised a transformation of the justice system,” says OA spokesperson Kate McIntyre. “That hasn’t happened. The government has backed down on implementing minor reforms promised by the Justice Minister, such as repealing the three strikes law in mid-2018.”
McIntyre says the government is overfunding the New Zealand Police and Corrections.
“We won’t see true justice in Aotearoa by just tinkering away at a rotten system, and we certainly won’t see justice by throwing more and more money at it. Increasing funding and resourcing for Corrections only increases its capacity to lock people up. We should be defunding the police and prison system.”
According to an Official Information Act request released in 2017, up to 87% of incarcerated people were unemployed or underemployed before being incarcerated.
“New Zealand’s justice system puts poor working class people, homeless people, Māori and Pasifika in cages. Our goal is to see justice returned to the community. We want to build a justice system that focuses on collective healing and harm reduction, over punishment, displacement and torture.”
The report draws from Māori scholarship, including the Matike Mai report, analysis from Ani Mikaere, Moana Jackson, as well as international scholarship. The report was also informed by notes from two public hui held in Auckland in Wellington in December 2018, shortly after the organisation launched.