New Zealand's indigenous Maori make up 50% of the prison population but only 15% of the country's entire population! Why?
Going to prison has become normal in the Maori society of New Zealand, and it seems every Maori child has a relative in jail.
One in every two prisoners in that country is an indigenous Maori even though they only account for 15 percent of the entire population!
Why are they so over-represented in the criminal justice system?
Many believe it's due to soaring rates of child poverty, school dropout, unemployment and family breakdown within indigenous communities. There have been claims that the government is failing the children of indigenous prisoners and that leaves them vulnerable to become prisoners themselves.
Gangs look after the kids who have been left destitute while their parents serve time and young Maori have joined biker gangs like the Mongrel Mob and Black Power since the 1960’s, but some of the youths have been forming their own street gangs as well.
The New Zealand criminal justice system is trying to correct this problem now by introducing cultural units in prisons to encourage Maori prisoners to get in touch with their culture again. They've also introduced programs to connect youths with their families rather than with gangs.
Reestablishing the family bond is not as easy as it sounds, and only half of the Maori men in prison have contact with their families.