Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ploughing on regardless

Phil Goff is going ahead with his law to prevent prisoners being paid compensation by the government. The law will apparantly cover any compensation payment by the state to an inmate and give it to the prisoner's victims. There's an obvious problem in that this seems to be far too broad. Compensation cases can take years to progress through the courts; is Goff really trying to say that people should be denied justice on a years-old ACC or police brutality payout dating from before conviction (and having nothing to do with any criminal activity) because they happen to be in prison at the time? There's also an obvious loophole, in that prisoners may complete their sentences before filing or seeing a judgement - several of the BMR claimants had been released, as had Andrew MacMillan). Plugging this would require effectively saying that no prisoner can ever receive compensation for something done to them while in prison - which will give our prisons carte blance to violate the law and victimise and brutalise prisoners with impunity. Don't think it doesn't happen here, because this case proves it does, and there are far worse.

No society should single out a section of its population as ineligable for justice. But that is exactly what Goff is trying to do here. Not explicitly, of course - that would be a little too blatant, even for him - but by denying incentives. And that is bad enough.