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Prisoners get more compo than victims

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

7 November 2007

Prisoners get more compo than victims

The Labour Government’s promise that victims of crime would be the winners from its law that allowed prisoners to continue claiming compensation for alleged ill treatment has flopped, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is releasing figures which show that of the $91,408.11 in prisoner compensation so far paid into a claims account under Labour’s law, only one victim has made a claim – for $9,500 – while four prisoners have walked away with $32,383.83.

“Labour says it cares about victims but here is a system that is seeing prisoners walk away with almost 80% of the amount paid out.

“Justice Minister Annette King should explain how those figures square with the comments of her predecessor Phil Goff, that 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.

“Clearly, rather than benefitting the victims of crime, Labour’s law is still proving to be something of a cash cow for prisoners.

“That law, which Labour has just extended for three years, has also failed to deter inmates from making claims.

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“In the past year alone, prisoners have made claims totalling $1.2 million.

“At the current rate of success, prisoners are set to walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation, while victims will get very little.

“The law is proving to be a flop – for victims, at least.”

Below: answers to parliamentary questions, claims for damages

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Answers to written parliamentary questions – Prisoner compo


15111 (2007). Simon Power to the Minister of Justice (28/8/07): How many victims have made claims for damages under the Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act 2005, and what has been the total amount claimed?
Justice Minister Mark Burton replied: I am advised that one victim has claimed for damages. The total amount claimed was $9500.

15112 (2007). Simon Power to the Minister of Justice (28/8/07): How many victims have made claims for damages under the Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act 2005; how many have been successful and for how much?
Justice Minister Mark Burton replied: See the answer to question 15111 (2007). The claim was successful and the claimant received $9,825.49, being the amount of the prisoner's compensation payment ($9.500) plus interest accrued.

15113 (2007). Simon Power to the Minister of Justice (28/8/07): How many inmates who have received compensation from the Department of Corrections have been able to keep that money because victim claims for damages under the Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act 2005 have either been unsuccessful or have not been forthcoming, and how much was involved in each case?
Justice Minister Mark Burton replied: I am advised that four former inmates have received payment from the Victims' Claims Trust Account. The amounts paid out were $5,073.50, $7,844.56, $15,245.29 and $4,220.48. None of these cases was subject to an unsuccessful claim.

15116 (2007). Simon Power to the Minister of Justice (28/8/07): How much has been paid into the victims’ claims trust fund so far, and how many prisoner claims does this represent?
Justice Minister Mark Burton replied: I am advised that to date $91,408.11 has been paid into the Victims’ Claims Trust Account. This total represents nine individual compensation awards to prisoners. A further $23,000, representing two prisoner compensation awards, is being held in the Victims’ Claims Cheque Account. Once any outstanding reparation and/or fees owing have been deducted, the balance will be transferred to the Victims’ Claims Trust Account.

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