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CORRECTIONS

New Bill ensures victims can lay claims against prisoner compensation

Wednesday 12 December 2012, 2:11PM
By Judith Collins
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A Bill to ensure victims of crime can continue to seek a share of compensation received by prisoners passed its first reading in Parliament last night.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims (Continuation and Reform) Amendment Bill makes permanent the Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act 2005, which will expire in July next year.

“The Act responded to public concern that offenders should not receive compensation for wrongful treatment, without first repaying the debt they owe for the harm they caused their victims.

“It’s important that victims continue to have an easy way to make a civil claim if prisoners do receive compensation payments,” Ms Collins says.

The current Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act 2005:

  • outlines the rare circumstances in which courts can award financial compensation to prisoners for breaches of their human rights.
  • allows certain amounts that prisoners owe (such as reparation and legal aid related to their human rights breach claim) to be deducted from any compensation.
  • provides a simplified process for victims to make civil claims against compensation payments before anything is paid to the prisoner. Victims can make civil claims seeking redress for the harm they suffered, such as emotional harm or property damage or loss caused by an offender.

 

The new Bill replaces a previous Bill introduced in 2011. The previous Bill put any money left over from payments to offenders’ direct victims towards funding general victims’ services, rather than to the prisoner.

“The new Bill will ensure the system is fair, balanced and won’t lead to any unintended injustices,” Ms Collins says.

“The new Bill will make sure victims continue to benefit from the current regime, while also recognising that we must strike a balance between victims’ rights and the legitimate claims of prisoners whose human rights have been breached.”

The Bill has been referred to select committee where anyone with an interest in it will have an opportunity to have their say on the Bill.