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Prisoners' compensation to be appealed

Prisoners' compensation to be appealed

Justice Minister Phil Goff has reacted strongly to news that compensation has been awarded to six people who sued the state for mistreatment while in prison.

"I find it personally offensive that people who have shown no consideration for their victims, have committed grievous crimes, and frequently show no remorse whatsoever, should have to be compensated for alleged wrongs done to them," Mr Goff said.

"An appeal has already been filed against the decision on the question of liability and may also be appealed on quantum.

"Last week I directed the Ministry of Justice to draft changes to the law to ensure that in future the first call on any such compensation payments will be to victims or families of victims, who have never themselves been compensated for the harm done to them by the offender.

"This would at least bring a measure of justice to situations like this, as well as providing a strong disincentive against any recalcitrant offender who might be financially motivated by this decision to make a spurious compensation claim.

"By far the largest sum of money awarded – for costs – will of course not go to the inmates but rather be applied to the legal aid costs incurred by the inmates, which effectively means the sum will be transferred from one government account to another."

Mr Goff said the Department of Corrections has already made changes and would consider whether further changes were necessary to operational guidelines in light of the court's ruling.

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