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Ed Sheeran

Bias concern in justice reform
Members of the new Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group

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A member of a new advisory group on criminal justice reform says she wants nothing to do with politics that could stigmatise or target Māori.

Lawyer Julia Whaipooti was picked for the Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group because of her work with reform advocates Just Speak.

The new group is chaired by former National MP Chester Borrows, who says he wants public and the media to take an evidence-based approach to crime and justice, rather than letting the debate be dominated by emotion.

He also says it was possible to predict from an early age who would end up in jail, and he urges early intervention.

Ms Whaipooti says that sort of risk factor definition can perpetuate discrimination against whānau Māori.

"We’re got a lot of mahi to do to make sure we move away from what is both conscious and unconscious bias in our justice system and those kinds of markers can often create discrimination that is often not seen that way by the system but I won't sit around the table and those things won’t be heard of," she says.

Ms Whaipooti says the terms of reference for the group allow for independence and flexibility

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