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A critical analysis of Section 27 of the Sentencing Act (2002)

This thesis analyses the effectiveness of Section 27 of the Sentencing Act (2002) in achieving its primary objective of addressing the high rate of Māori incarceration. This problem largely stems from the destruction of Māori culture through colonisation and is held in place by systemic and institutional racism in the contemporary context. Theoretically, Section 27 provides a mechanism to off-set the societal dislocation and disadvantage Māori have experienced as a result of colonialism, crime control policies and urbanisation. Analysis of the operational reality of Section 27 focused on the following questions: • Is Section 27 being utilised as intended by legislation? • What are the underlying rationale and reasons why the Section is utilised by Court officials? • What are the underlying rationale and reasons why the Section is not utilised by Court officials? • What changes to legislation, policy or institutional practice are required to enhance the use of Section 27? The research involved qualitative interviews of eight lawyers from two different geographic locations in New Zealand, and four cultural consultants (those employed to write professional Section 27 reports). Their responses were analysed and grouped into three different themes: benefits, barriers, and improvement to legislation and practice. Major findings of the research include positive outcomes such as improved community re-engagement for offenders and improved sentencing outcomes. On the other hand, however, there is an inconsistency of use of Section 27, as well as a variable impact when it is used during the sentencing process. This inconsistency appears due to a lack of cultural knowledge and understanding within the court system. Thus, there is a need for cultural education of those working within the court system and for the development of a framework and guidelines. For this to be imbedded as a consistent practice for use in sentencing decisions it needs to be backed up with adequate government funding and legislative and policy support.
Type of thesis
Oakley, T. J. (2020). A critical analysis of Section 27 of the Sentencing Act (2002) (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13583
The University of Waikato
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