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Crims’ compo bill heads for the stratosphere

Crims’ compo bill heads for the stratosphere

United Future law & order spokesman Marc Alexander revealed today that the taxpayer is facing a potential bill of close to $44 million in settling compensation claims from criminals alleging mistreatment in jail.

Mr Alexander said “Recently five Auckland prison inmates were awarded $130,000 for alleged mistreatment under the provisions of the Bill of Rights Act 1990 – but that’s only the beginning.

“The total external legal costs incurred by the Department of Corrections was $616,938.20 (as at June 2004). The total amount of legal aid paid in relation to these proceedings was $357,961.96 (as at September 2004). The government is appealing the claims which will escalate the costs to taxpayers, but regardless of that course of action $1,104,900.10 has already been spent.

“That works out at an average of $220,980 per criminal.

“Their lawyer Tony Ellis has filed a claim on behalf of 18 other criminals and has sought permission to represent 175 more. Assuming similar costs and outcomes, that means at least another $3,977,640 for the eighteen and a whopping $38,671,500 for the other 175!

“Add it all up and the taxpayer could be stung for $43,754,040.10 and that’s without looking at possible appeals.

“The fact is that complaints from inmates have been escalating at an alarming rate. From 96 in the year 1998/99 to 147 in 2001/02, 204 in 2002/03, and 226 in 2003/04.

“Successful claims for compensation will only incentivise these criminals and their lawyers at the expense of our notions of justice.

“The very idea that criminals are getting their taxpayer-funded day in Court to claim taxpayer-funded compensation for such things as ‘hurt feelings’ and for being segregated because they pose a genuine threat to the safety of guards and other inmates can only be seen as a slap in the face for all victims.

“And all because the Government is putting international treaties ahead of the interests of justice in our own country. It is an ironic and absurd situation when those who most despise the law then use it to assert their so-called rights.

“Rather than these criminals pursuing rewards that eluded them in the pursuit of their unsuccessful crimes by appealing to the Bill of Rights, it’s a pity we don’t have a Bill of Responsibilities under which we can make them pay instead of their victims and other taxpayers,” said Mr Alexander.

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