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By Gilbert Taurua

The Government's announcement they will not go ahead with plans to build a billion-dollar mega prison on confiscated Maori land in Waikeria is welcomed.

The proposed 3000-bed prison would cost over one billion dollars, and has been touted as a serious solution to our booming prison population. That's despite evidence that prisons don’t make our communities any safer, and do little to rehabilitate offenders. Congratulation to Kelvin Davis and Andrew Little for supporting the decision.

The Drug Foundation was pleased to support JustSpeak’s Julia Whaipooti at the recent UN PFII, where she urged the forum to support their call for the NZ Government to stop building more prisons that will “undoubtedly result in further imprisonment of Māori” and to back an inquiry into structural racism.

“All current research and evidence supports that prisons do not work and harm indigenous communities the most,” she said. “We see no benefit in taking land for us, to build institutions that harm us.”

Following Julia’s powerful speech, the UN Special Rapporteur agreed to include these issues in their official report to world leaders.

We know that 58% of New Zealanders imprisoned for drug-related offenses are Māori, and we know that our current drug laws directly impact the rates of Māori imprisonment.

It’s time to have a serious look at our outdated drug laws, starting with implementing the recommendations from the previous NZ Law Commission reports.

Read JustSpeak’s The Case against Prisons

News: RNZ, Waikato mega-prison off the table

Read Controlling and regulating drugs, or Controlling and regulating drugs – A review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975

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