Labour’s broken promise 8 : prisoner compensation
Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman
9 October 2008
Labour’s broken promise No 8 on law and order: prisoner compensation
The Labour Government has failed to live up to a promise that it would stop prisoners keeping compensation awarded to them, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.
“Labour’s failure to live up to this promise is another example of how they have let victims down.
“They said they would let prisoners make claims but that they would be unlikely to get the money.
“Former Justice Minister Phil Goff said that under Labour’s Prisoners and Victims’ Claims Act 2005 ‘there will be no financial incentive’ for prisoners to claim compensation [26 August 2004], and that it would ‘restrict compensation for inmates to exceptional cases … and I make no apology for that’ [15 December 2004].
“But Labour’s bill has not restricted compensation for prisoners ‘to exceptional cases’, and prisoners continue to get more compensation than their victims.
“Figures show five prisoners have received $35,081.94 in compensation while only $19,960.67 has gone to two victims.
“As recently as seven weeks ago, a prisoner was awarded $21,612.25 compensation, and the Justice Ministry says that if that prisoner’s victim does not make a claim on that money by February 21 next year, he will keep that money.*
“And Labour is happy to let that happen.
“Since Labour’s law, there have been upwards of 33 claims awaiting adjudication totalling $4 million, proving that prisoners have not seen it as a disincentive to making claims.
“Labour likes victims to believe it cares about them, but it’s their law that still allows prisoners to walk away with pockets full of money.
“As long as there is reluctance on the part of victims to make claims – caused by fear or unwillingness to re-live a traumatic event – offenders will continue to benefit.
“National will put compensation won by prisoners but unclaimed by victims into a scheme to help victims with out-of-pocket expenses not covered by ACC or other state help.
“Victims have been waiting nine long years for just another broken promise from Labour.”
*Notice on Justice Dept website:
National’s Victims policy is at: http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=28242