Over-representation of Maori in the criminal justice system : an exploratory report


Maori are disproportionately over-represented in criminal justice statistics to an alarming degree. This paper attempts to shed light on why this is so. It examines the issue by considering the evidence for two different (though not mutually exclusive) explanatory approaches: that bias operates within the criminal justice system, such that any suspected or actual offending by Maori has harsher consequences for those Maori, resulting in an accumulation of individuals within the system; and that a range of adverse early-life social and environmental factors result in Maori being at greater risk of ending up in patterns of adult criminal conduct. These approaches are examined in the light of criminal justice data and research findings. As noted, the two perspectives are by no means mutually exclusive, and both approaches appear to offer part of the explanation for the current state of affairs. The evidence points to an interaction between the two processes, where the operation of one set makes the other more likely. (Executive summary, edited.)

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