Thursday, October 24, 2019

Still paying for the BMR

Back in 2004, a group of inmates at Auckland Prison took the Department of Corrections to court, alleging that the Department's "Behaviour management Regime" (BMR) amounted to cruel, degarding and inhuman treatment. When they won damages in 2004, the then-Labour government responded by passing (with the assistance of the Greens, who they then screwed over) the excreable Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act, which attempted to prevent and deter such awards. But the victims weren't deterred, and went on to win hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But that's not all - because the original claiments weren't the only victims of the BMR. 72 others have since lodged claims, and yesterday, the first of them won their case:

The first six of 72 prisoners unlawfully held in solitary confinement 20 years ago will finally be paid out by the government.


The first six have been offered $87,500 to be shared among all of them.

Assuming similar offers are made for the remaining 66, a final payout would exceed $1 million.

It has taken fifteen years, apparently because Corrections has refused to consider settlement until now. Meanwhile, none of the Corrections managers who oversaw the BMR faced any employment consequences, despite costing their department more than a million dollars fifteen years ago. And with the amount of time that has passed, there seems absolutely no hope of them being held accountable now.

Update: Clarified that the current payments are settlements. The obvious question is why Corrections waited 15 years to make an offer - and how much they wasted on legal fees in the interim.