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Structural injustice

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, May 22nd, 2016 - 54 comments
Categories: law, racism - Tags: , , , ,

Structural injustice is everywhere around us. But sometimes simple cases highlight it so clearly (ht marty mars). Compare:

Outrage over teenagers’ sentence

A sentence of home detention for four Northland teenagers for a burglary spree totalling nearly $80,000 in stolen property has been met with outrage. …

And contrast:

Trout poacher apologises for actions

A trout poacher has been jailed for four months – about 18 months after he was found guilty of the original charges. David Pake Leef, 37, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court yesterday… His co-offender Thomas Tawha was sentenced to 12 months in jail in April, 2015.

54 comments on “Structural injustice”

  1. Aye….back to the days of Lairds an Ladies ..

    And ye better not be caught hunting the Kings deer lest you be hung in th’ gibbet til death give yer sweet remembrance. What the King does with his own is his own business , the duty of the peasants is merely to obey.

  2. AmaKiwi 2

    Anthony, I am not sure what structural injustice is. But I know what it looks like when people in positions of power and authority give no thought to the social and environmental consequences their actions.

    On the other hand, the judge may have thought the poacher, David Pake Leef, needed imprisonment in order to acquire criminal skills because he’ll never find a good job with a prison record.

    I forgot. The purpose of prison is what? Rehabilitation? Keep brown people in their place? Provide profits for Serco?

    • weka 2.1

      Structural injustice is when two sets of people get treated differently because the system responds in a prejudicial way. It’s always hard to tell what would have happened if the specific situations were reversed, except we have records of sentencing for crime that shows that Māori being sent to jail and white people not happens frequently.

      At this stage it looks like blatant institutional racism. In the way the laws are written, in how the prosecutions were taken, and in judgement. DOC, FIsh and Game and the judge should have been cogniscent of natural justice principles and perceptions of racism. They all have some answering to do.

    • katipo 2.2

      Linda Tirado on RNZ this morning had some excellent thoughts on the subject….
      http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/201801602/linda-tirado-down-and-out-in-utah-and-washington-dc

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    i think the home detention sentence is fine as long as the kids undergo a rehab and counselling programme.

    The trout poaching sentence is way over the top unless he has been in court over this several times before.

    It’ll cost over one hundred thousand in tax payers money to convict and incarcerate these two fishing offenders.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      It looks to me like he could have avoided 1-2 months of this sentence if he had turned up in court when he was supposed to, instead of going on the run from the system for 18 months.

      • Richardrawshark 3.1.1

        In the UK, if you do not have your drivers license on you, you get a ticket to produce your details, insurance documents etc within 7 days at your nearest police station.

        Well you did in the 90’s.

        They chased me for two years, from Bournemouth where I got the ticket and was living for a short time, to Sunderland, After two years two detectives knocked at the Door and after some, who he’s? and a look at a picture and gotcha moment, I was arrested, held in Jail in Sunderland for a week, flown to London, dragged through the airport, as by then I was being a dick and made them drag me by the handcuffs. Driven to Christchurch, Bournmouth, held in Worchester jail for two months until I got to see a judge who went 40 pound fine andri went home.

        Ahh the joys of wild youth.

        I went in front of one judge in Sunderland who wrote off 147 failed to produces back in them days, think they changed it now and can check electronically.

        You forget things when your Bi-polar, what can I say, and I never new I was back then.

        But what i’m getting at, all that jail time, the flights, and two detectives accompanying, from one end of the country to the other for 40 quid.

        For not producing a drivers license at a police station. Hmm something just doesn’t add up.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          This is not about the money it is about the control.

          It is about taking your tax money to apply control over you.

  4. weka 4

    Legally they can confiscate people’s gear as well, including the car they drive to and from the site being poached.

    I’m appalled at the prison sentence. Shame on DOC and Fish and Game for pursuing this in this way.

    As someone else on twitter said, we allow commerical harvesting of native fish for pet food, but we send people to prison for taking a handful of introduced species that harm the native ecosystem and can actually be replenished pretty easily.

    Maybe there is more to the story that isn’t in the media yet, but DOC and Fish and Game need to front up and state whether they think it’s right and ethical to have done this. DOC are pretty much hamstrung by govt interference these days but Fish and Game do seem to have some ethical standards, so what gives?

    • mauī 4.1

      I could search the local waterways and night after night take out all the large 50-100 year old long finned eels that are classified as a threatened species and haven’t bred yet. That would be totally fine under the Conservation Act, but these guys…

      (If you’re an eeler this is why you MUST know the difference between short finned and long eels in my opinion)

      • weka 4.1.1

        The hypocrisy of the law in that is breathtaking. Marty said this is what is wrong with NZ in relation to the sentences, and I think the laws around tuna and trout are another example of what is wrong with NZ. We still have colonisation in practice.

        (don’t get me wrong though, I do love trout).

        • marty mars 4.1.1.1

          “We still have colonisation in practice”

          In many ways this is correct – although most often hidden and sly sometimes the ugly makes itself visible.

  5. mauī 5

    It’s interesting the charges appear to be bought by the Department of Conservation and they were charged through the Conservation Act for removing fish that are an introduced apex predator (and are recognised as one of the biggest threats to native fish species) in the NZ environment. Go figure..

    • mauī 5.1

      Also, if we had a just system then wouldn’t an investigation look at why the fish were taken? Were they going to on sell the fish or were they for personal consumption. How much did the men’s financial situation influence what they did? How much did cultural beliefs that they have indigenous rights play a part? When taking into account some of the above, how much of the offence constitutes a crime?

      • weka 5.1.1

        Yep, and apply that to the white guys too. In sentencing, how would a prison term impact not just on that person but their family. It’s hard to know what was taken into account (another fail by the MSM).

      • marty mars 5.1.2

        Very good points mauī

    • joe90 5.2

      (and are recognised as one of the biggest threats to native fish species)

      Buggered if I can find it now but a few years ago I read excerpts from An Entirely Synthetic Fish’: rainbow trout, ecological bully, detailing the disasters wrought the globe over by acclimatisation societies and their damn fish.

      Suppose that more than a century ago, U.S. government officials became concerned democracy itself was at risk because men seemed to be less virile. Suppose that to reverse this trend they decided to populate streams, rivers, and lakes with “an entirely ‘synthetic’ fish”—quarry with which Americans could rediscover their abilities to capture and kill animals. And suppose that, up to the present, these creatures were still being produced and distributed on a massive scale, sometimes even being trained like gladiators and pumped full of the same supplements as the best human athletes so that they would provide a better fight.

      Such is the true story of the rainbow trout. Sometimes vilified for their devastating effects on the native fauna, sometimes glorified as the preeminent sport fish, the rainbow trout is the repository of more than a century of America’s often contradictory philosophies about the natural world. Exhaustively researched and grippingly rendered by award-winning journalist, aquatic ecologist, and lifelong fisherman Anders Halverson, this book chronicles the discovery of rainbow trout, their artificial propagation and distribution, and why they are being eradicated in some waters yet are still the most commonly stocked fish in the United States.

      http://andershalverson.com/about

      http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/an-entirely-synthetic-fish-rainbow-trout-ecological-bully/

  6. save nz 6

    Shocking!!!! Hope the poacher appeals!

  7. BM 7

    These guys are idiots and got what they deserved.
    You tell the court to fuck off and you’re skating on really thin ice.

    Also this wasn’t a first time.

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/alleged-poachers-jest-at-courts-rights-2014081219#axzz49FDcdEGV

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/justice-system/news/article.cfm?c_id=240&objectid=11385368&ref=rss

    • weka 7.1

      What’s being objected to is the sentence not the conviction.

      Not the first time? It looks to me like one instance of poaching and being caught.

      • BM 7.1.1

        You’re right, I must have miss read it.

        Thing is though you can’t tell the court to piss off and say you don’t recognise it and refuse to turn up.

        That’s why these guys ended up inside, for thumbing their nose at the court system, not for the fish poaching,

        All they had to do is turn up on time, do a few mea culpas and they would have got off with a fine.

        Stupid stuff and now they’re spending time in the big house for their idiocy.

        • Gangnam Style 7.1.1.1

          That’ll learn ’em, feel all better now?

        • weka 7.1.1.2

          I still don’t think the sentence fits any of those crimes. And the institutional racism still exists anyway.

        • ianmac 7.1.1.3

          The Judge did not sentence them for their behaviour. It is not illegal to deny the Court’s authority.

        • marty mars 7.1.1.4

          “That’s why these guys ended up inside, for thumbing their nose at the court system, not for the fish poaching,”

          No that is incorrect and there are many Māori that struggle to recognise the ‘system’.

        • save nz 7.1.1.5

          Maybe they were hungry that is why they caught the fish?

          Or they had no transport to go to court.

          Or they are illiterate and can’t read the paperwork or got the time wrong.

          Anyway who knows, but prison for poaching is not on.

          Also agree the teenagers should not be in prison either.

          Instead of wasting money on prison for Serco there should be courses for these people about life skills, anger management, that they are sentenced to.

          In the ‘old days’ there were jobs for these people, fruit picking, labouring, farm work. Now a days, the jobs are gone with people imported in from Fiji and Philippines rather than bothering with training locals. (And if they were in work they probably would not be up to no good and stealing, because they have money in their pockets from an honest days work and used to getting somewhere on time and following rules).

    • Yes, you have to wonder what Leef’s sentence would have been if he hadn’t tried to claim the court had no jurisdiction over him, hadn’t refused legal representation and hadn’t failed to turn up. It’s not clear whether the different outcomes in these cases are due to structural racism, or due to stupidity.

      • weka 7.2.1

        Or the young white guys had access to better lawyers. See, there’s another aspect of structural injustice.

        It’s not unusual for Māori to argue that they don’t accept the authority of the state. Whether these guys were serious or being stupid I don’t know, but let’s make that structural injustice issue #3.

        • Psycho Milt 7.2.1.1

          A defendant can argue they don’t accept the authority of the state, sure. I could argue that I don’t accept the law of gravity, but I’m still going to accelerate towards the ground at 9 mps squared if I step off a roof. That’s effectively what’s happened to these guys.

          Also: everybody, regardless of ethnicity, has access to a better lawyer than someone who rejects legal representation.

          • weka 7.2.1.1.1

            Except that unlike the laws of physics, the laws of NZ can be interpreted in different ways, and the outcomes different depending on what class one belongs to. Imagine if gravity had instituitional bias. The treaty suggests partnership. Where one partner consistently renegs on the agreement the other side is likely to rethink it too.

            Your second point suggests that there is bias along class and socio economic lines (education is an issue too) as well as ethnicity.

        • Chuck 7.2.1.2

          “Or the young white guys had access to better lawyers. See, there’s another aspect of structural injustice”

          Money buys better lawyers, no doubt the legal system does favor people who can afford the best. Its far from perfect…

          “It’s not unusual for Māori to argue that they don’t accept the authority of the state.”

          Complete idiots…no doubt listening to some “elders” living a fantasy.

          • marty mars 7.2.1.2.1

            “Complete idiots…no doubt listening to some “elders” living a fantasy.”

            that made me chuck chuck – there is a fantasy in this country and it starts with the ‘we are all one so just shut up about any injustice’ bullshit.

            • Chuck 7.2.1.2.1.1

              No fantasy marty mars…its fact. Are you suggesting because of bloodlines people can choose to ignore any and all laws of the land?

              In case you think I am a redneck – a good portion of my family has Maori blood running through our veins.

              • the jury is still out, the fight has not finished, the injustice is still being sorted – The Treaty needs to be honored and until then it is a viable, respected position to state that the agencies of justice are not applicable. Of course the agency of justice doesn’t give a monkeys about what indigenous people say – so that is why there are some very, very good Māori lawyers fighting on that front.

                You may disagree but so what

  8. ianmac 8

    Appalling on the face of it.

  9. Tim 9

    Bullshit. Different ages, and the trout fullas didn’t turn up to legal proceedings. There are a heap of shop owners in South Auckland who say teenagers (largely Maori/PI) committing armed robbery there are not being sentenced harshly enough

    • mauī 9.1

      And why are Maori/Pasifika commiting those crimes in South Auckland? The answer might be revealing.

  10. Jenny Kirk 10

    Moana Maniopoto tells it like it really is – pity some Pakeha cannot see it for what it is :
    institutionalised racism.

    http://e-tangata.co.nz/news/the-racism-that-too-few-of-the-privileged-can-see

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Just note that it was the correct decision not to send those 4 young guys to prison.

      • Richardrawshark 10.1.1

        Why? CT( Corrective Training) good sharp shock, 2 months, be justice for the shock to the owners of the properties when they came home.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1

          What is CT? Does it occur in a prison environment?

          • Richardrawshark 10.1.1.1.1

            In the 80’s you as a youth got DC , then they changed the name to CT, Corrective Training, Rangipo and Turangi had corrective training camp.

            2 months you could get a month off if you were good carrot stick.

            Ran like Military training induction.

            I know it’s a completely failed system , all it did was make me super fit, gave me a bigger authority chip on my shoulder than I already had, filled my address book up
            with other guys like me into fun and getting wasted and partying. Taught me a few more car thieving tricks.

            When I got out no cop could out run me. for a while. Man I was fit.

            However, the trip through Wikeria on the way to Rangipo with the adult prisoners there, made me damn scared of heading to adult jail. That worked properly.

            I reckon the best thing you can do to shock them straight is force them into a group session with some real hardened criminals, lifers, proper bad buggers, to tell them the truth and what WILL happen to their lives if they don’t change.

            • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Ahhhh thanks for your detailed reply. Well, if its not in an adult prison environment and some good can come form it, then yeah it should definitely be an option.

              Better than lounging around at home on the XBOX waiting for your folks to cook your meals and do your laundry.

              • Richardrawshark

                The system of justice frankly is 95% wasted money. Do you realize that?

                The years where we should identify antisocial or mental health issues is a non event.

                The rest of the costs are a roll on from not correctly identifying an individuals issue and correctly resolving it.

                I should write an piece, on it, I have excellent inside(pardon the pun) knowledge.

                Take metal health

                How many Bi-polar, depressed, abused, neglected or mentally ill people are allowed to continue acting out before they are treated, instead of thrown through a blame and punishment regime?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Sure we have a very stupid, inhuman (and inhumane) set up in many areas of our society.

                  Then we support political parties which want to tinker with insignificant parts of it, and try and convince ourselves that voting for the least shite is a virtue.

                  Your knowledge and personal experience is invaluable.

                • weka

                  Please do write a piece!

                  Completely agree. And the connections between mental health, abuse and prison are known and clear.

        • North 10.1.1.2

          That was essentially the borstal of old……there’s no such facility now.

          Main concern re the prison/home detention issue is that poor people are much less able to meet requirements as to housing, location, cellphone coverage and so on. Which denies them access to home detention.

          Relatively thus, poor people don’t get the benefit of the law in the same way as others do. That is egregious. Add to that subliminal racism.

    • marty mars 10.2

      + 1 Jenny – very good article indeed!!!

  11. Colonial Viper 11

    OK so I understand now, DoC and Fish and Game were always going to prosecute to the full someone attacking a trout spawning area.

    I suspect that if he had accepted legal representation and had turned up to court as ordered, he would have had a sentence of 2 months or 3 months max, and would serve only half that time.

  12. weka 12

    Felix Geiringer – ‏@BarristerNZ

    Jean Rostand said, “Kill one man, & you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, & you are a conqueror.” It turns out it applies to fish too.

  13. Mosa 13

    You can have all the laws you want and decide how to apply them but if entrenched attitudes don’t change then we will get the racist decisions that we see now despite the law.

  14. slumbergod 14

    A corrupt MP can bypass airport security with a slap on the wrist and an apology. A beneficiary with a girlfriend or boyfriend is guilty of fraud until they can prove it isn’t a relationship.

    MPs get their salaries upped every year because they need parity with the private sector. Beneficiaries were cheated out of one day’s benefit which they were entitled to by law…except that the govt pushed through a change in legislation to legalise their fraud.

    Not only is there structural injustice, but our parliament is dripping and oozing with corruption. ONE SET OF RULES FOR THE PRIVILEGED; ONE FOR THE POOR.

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