Wednesday, December 15, 2004

One law for all

After hearing certain MPs harp on all year about "one law for all", I'm looking forward to their expressions of outrage to the news that Maori face longer criminal sentences than non-Maori:

Corrections introduced its "risk of reconviction and risk of imprisonment" system in 2001.

All offenders who are found guilty or plead guilty are assessed under it for their pre-sentence probation report to gauge their risk of reoffending.

Answers to about 90 criteria are fed into a computer to produce a score that grades risks. But the system as introduced automatically gave a higher score to offenders who gave Maori as their ethnicity than it did to a non-Maori offender of similar background who committed a similar crime.

Unlike previous complaints of "Maori privilege" (which tend to be need in disguise, or in some cases simply fabricated), this actually is a serious violation of the principle of equality before the law. You don't get anything more basic than the idea that the scale of someone's punishment should not depend on their race or cultural background. But instead, it seems that Gerry Brownlee and Don Brash would rather worry about decile-funding in schools. That speaks volumes about what they think "one law for all" is really about...