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Labour spends $2.5m on prisoner compo claims

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

11 January 2008


Labour spends $2.5m on prisoner compo claims

The Labour Government has spent more than $2.5 million since 2003/04 to defend compensation claims by prisoners, according to figures released today by National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

The figures also show that as at 29 June there were 33 claims totalling $4 million awaiting adjudication, at an average of $121,600.

Some $91,408 in compensation has now been paid into a prisoner claims account.

“The sad aspect of all this is that only one claim – for $9,500 – has been made by a victim, while four prisoners have walked away with $32,383.83.

“This is further proof that Labour’s promise that victims of crime would be the winners from its law that allowed prisoners to continue claiming compensation for alleged ill treatment is not working.

“How can it be when prisoners are walking away with almost 80% of the payouts? Any compensation scheme should put the needs and rights of victims first.

“Justice Minister Annette King should explain how those figures square with the comments of her predecessor, coincidentally the new Minister of Corrections, Phil Goff, who said the legislation:

- Would ‘restrict compensation for inmates to exceptional cases’.

- ‘Maximises the prospect that victims will be the beneficiaries’ in those cases where compensation is paid.

- Would provide a strong disincentive against any offender who might be encouraged by other payouts to make a claim for themselves.

“Labour’s 2005 Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act has proved to be not a disincentive, since claims totalling $1.2 million have been made in the past year alone.

“At the current rate of success, prisoners will get more, victims will get very little, and taxpayers will continue to shell out good money to defend these cases.

“This law is a flop for victims.”

Attachment: answer to financial review – 3 pages.

ENDS

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