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Managing Ignorance About Māori Imprisonment

Chapter
Part of the Critical Criminological Perspectives book series (CCRP)

Abstract

In 2016, New Zealand’s (NZ) prison population reached its highest-ever level of 10,000 people, with over half being Māori. Māori experience prison conditions and treatments that are undoubtedly harmful and, within five years of being released from prison, 80% of Māori are reconvicted. Within a neo-colonial context, this penal capture is normalised.

This chapter considers how Māori imprisonment is systematically ignored and managed by the NZ state. It demonstrates how state violence and the use of incarceration as a means of controlling Māori have been ignored, within colonial and neo-colonial contexts. The chapter charts three main strands of agnosis: (i) an emphasis on Māori deficits and pathologies; (ii) the distorted incorporation of Māori culture into Correctional processes; and (iii) a denial of structural disadvantage, institutionalised racism and state violence as explanations of ‘crime’. Taken together, these forms of knowledge and institutional processes obscure the neo-colonial contexts that propel high rates of Māori imprisonment and entrench systemic disadvantage and marginalisation. The chapter concludes with a consideration of how ignorance has been resisted through the production of alternative knowledge and actions. In particular, it reflects upon the recent successful claim at the Waitangi Tribunal, in which the Department of Corrections was found to have failed in its role to tackle Māori reoffending. It considers the implications of this resistant counter-knowledge to challenge neo-colonial relations of power and the continued penal capture of Māori.

Keywords

Maori Imprisonment Agnosis Colonisation Resistance Indigenous culture Over-representation 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of CriminologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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