The statement that Maori are unfairly treated by the police is "ludicrous" and portrays a head in the sand mentality, says the Sensible Sentencing Trust.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has called for a review of the New Zealand justice system, which he has labelled unfair, biased and prejudiced for most Maori. His statement was backed by Rethinking Crime and Punishment director Kim Workman on Sunday, the day after the announcement.
Mr Sharples said Maori offenders were arrested at three times the rate of non Maori for the same crimes, and the entire justice system including police, courts and corrections "systematically discriminates against Maori."
Dr Sharples says Maori offenders are more likely to not get bail, lack legal representation and be denied home detention.
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Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said it was ludicrous to suggest police held a bias against Maori and that the justice system discriminated against them.
"Most Maori - like most other people - do not commit crime. To suggest that high levels of Maori offending are a result of Police persecution is an insult to every law-abiding New Zealander and an absolute affront on the integrity of Police."
"For the first time in recent history crime and prison statistics appear to be dropping and that can only be as a direct result of the new message that each and every individual is responsible for their actions - good or bad."
He said if the Maori party dropped the "three strike" legislation, as Dr Sharples indicated it would, the move would alarm many New Zealanders.
Dr Sharples is proposing new justice system be developed with Maori input ensuring the system included Maori practices, principles and programmes.