Imprisonment rate internationally indefensible

As the Government looks at measures to lock up more people for longer sentences, the Race Relations Commissioner is warning the current imprisonment rate for Maori is putting New Zealand in a bad light internationally.

In his annual report released today, Joris de Bres highlights 50 percent of prison inmates are Maori.

He says it's a long term pattern which was raised at last year's United Nations periodical review and by the Committee on the Elimination of racial Discrimination, and it's likely to feature again this month in another UN review of New Zealand's civil and political rights.

“What this report is recommending that we do have long term targets and set specific targets to reduce that rate of imprisonment. It’s absolutely unsustainable. It’s internationally indefensible and we really do have to come to grips with it. We cannot sustain this,” Mr de Bres says.

The economic recession has increased the disparities between Maori and pacific workers and others, with 30 percent of young Maori now unemployed.

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