Thursday, September 16, 2021

Racist from top to bottom

Back in 2019, the government tweaked drug laws to encourage the use of police discretion. So did it work? well, charges are down, but the burden of prosecution is falling even more disproportionately on Māori:

A 2019 change to drug laws has led to far fewer people being charged for drug use/possession, but Māori are now even more likely to be charged than non-Māori.

The trends are revealed in police data, released under the Official Information Act, which include a breakdown of how the law is applied in each police district for different ethnic groups.

It has led to allegations of "racist outcomes" - especially in the Canterbury and the Waikato regions.

Police deny this, saying that the most important factor in whether someone is charged is prior convictions - but they have provided no data to support this.

It speaks volumes that the effect is strongest in regions that are more racist. Meanwhile, hiding behind prior convictions elides the fact that whether someone has previously been convicted or not is itself a product of racial bias. What we have here is a clear example of how police discretion in practice means police discrimination. The solution of course is to legalise completely, and strip police of this excuse for their racism.

And on a similar note, RNZ looks at who gets name suppression. And surprise, surprise, its overwhelmingly rich Pākehā:

RNZ can reveal that Pākehā are granted name suppression three times as often as Māori, even though Māori are charged and convicted with more crimes.

Last year, Māori were charged with 43 percent of crimes but only accounted for 17 percent of the interim and final name suppression granted, an RNZ analysis shows.

Pākehā were charged with 36 percent of crimes, but accounted for 65 percent of interim and final name suppression, Ministry of Justice figures show.

Taken together, these two data points suggest our justice system is racist from top to bottom, delivering jail for Māori and excuses and name suppression for the Pākehā elite (and their children). And this too needs to be fixed, because it erodes the very concept of justice itself.