Inmates awarded $453,875

New Zealand prisoners have been awarded more than $450,000 in compensation since 2005, of which about $47,000 has been paid to their victims and $27,000 in other payments, including fines.

To date, just $133,070 has been paid to prisoners, following a claims process for compensation awarded for any act or omission by or on behalf of the Crown.

It also covered out-of-court settlements, most commonly between the Department of Corrections and prisoners, for administrative errors which caused prisoners to be detained beyond their release date.

The Otago Daily Times obtained information about prisoner compensation from the Ministry of Justice under the Official Information Act.

In total, 38 prisoners were awarded $453,875 in compensation for wrongs which occurred in the corrections and criminal justice systems.

In accordance with the Prisoners' and Victims' Claims Act 2005, $401,691 of that compensation was held in the Victims' Claims Trust Account.

Any victim of a prisoner awarded compensation could make a claim to the money.

Since 2005 just eight victims have made claims, of which five were successful and resulted in them collectively receiving $46,949. None of them was from Otago.

Of the 38 cases of prisoners being awarded compensation, 13 had yet to be finalised through the victims' claims process.

For the 25 finalised cases, $247,250 of prisoner compensation was paid to the Secretary of Justice, of which $43,793 was paid as reparation to victims in addition to the almost $47,000 awarded to victims through the claims process.

Claims were handled by the Victims' Special Claims Tribunal, which publicly notified any instances of compensation being awarded to prisoners and held in the Victims' Claims Trust Account.

In September, $35,935 awarded to three prisoners was made available to their victims, who had until mid-March to make a claim.

It was held on behalf of prisoners Graeme Raymond Hewitt, Luke William Cowie and Patrick John McGreevy.

The latter was a convicted sex offender who made headlines in 2008 when he escaped his electronic monitoring bracelet and went on the run from police in Christchurch.

McGreevy (42) had been released from jail in May 2008 under an extended supervision period of 10 years, but was sent back to prison for six months later that year for breaching his release conditions.

He was again released under supervision but in May last year was sentenced to six months' jail for another breach.

McGreevy's victims could claim against the $25,000 held on his behalf in the Victims' Claims Trust Account. To be eligible they had to be a victim of an offence for which McGreevy was convicted in a New Zealand court.

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