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Prisoners claiming millions in compo

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

4 June 2006

Prisoners claiming millions in compo

Pressure created by overcrowded prisons is resulting in millions of dollars in compensation being claimed by prisoners, says National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on answers to parliamentary questions that show:
• There were 21 individual prisoner claims and appeals against the Corrections Department as at March 31, seeking a total of $4.854 million.
• $621,655 was paid out in compensation in the past six years.
• The number of guards assaulted by prisoners has jumped from 107 in 2003/04 to 180 in 2005/06, a rise of 68%.

“These are clearly symptoms of an overcrowded prisons system which is creating increased tension between prisoners and guards, and prisoners and prisoners.

“Prison staff are also feeling the pressure, as evidenced by the large number of investigations into breaches of law and policy by staff.

“Corrections are currently dealing with 16 such investigations, and they are on the increase. There were 112 last year, compared to 92 in 2004.
“This is worrying because breaches by staff will inevitably lead to more compensation claims by prisoners.

“Corrections are also dealing with 103 other employment issues, 75 which relate to personal grievances, and 28 to discipline.

“Many questions remain about whether our prisons system is a safe environment for both prisoners and guards.”

Ends

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