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Time To Stop Making Crime Pay, Says Franks

Time To Stop Making Crime Pay, Says Franks

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today launched his Corrections (Criminal Payouts) Amendment Bill 2004, which aims to ensure the prisoners do not benefit from damages awards and compensation.

"New Zealanders are sick and tired of serious offenders receiving compensation for tough treatment that many - including myself - consider they deserve, while the victims have gone uncompensated," Mr Franks said.

"This Bill seeks to redress the balance. The key features of the legislation are:

• It will end the power judges gave themselves in Baigent's case to award damages for breach of human rights law. Complaints about mistreatment and prison discipline will be covered under the Corrections Act 2004;

• It restricts damages awards to the compensation of actual losses so that damages cannot be used as disguised penalties, tempting offenders and their counsel to pursue them as windfall bounties;

• It strengthens the independence of investigation of prisoner complaints by reinstating the requirement that visiting judges be real judges - not JPs;

• The Crown Law Office will be authorised and instructed to undertake civil proceedings for victims against criminals who get compensation awards under the law prevailing before the changes made by this Bill;

• Victims of crime will be entitled to direct payment of any amount they might otherwise have received, to Victim Support or the Sensible Sentencing Trust;

• It provides for court orders that prisoner compensation awards be kept intact until civil proceedings have been completed, with an extendable expiry date of 1 June 2008.

"I am confident that other political parties in our Parliament will support my Bill. I would like to think that the Labour Government could put the interests of victims, the upset public and taxpayers, ahead of petty politics. They could make good use of this contribution on a bi-partisan basis," Mr Franks said.

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