Sensible Sentencing - Prison Officers Should not Be Held Accountable for Actions
“Garth McVicar’s view that the Corrections decision to pay compensation to a prisoner for the loss of property, was
‘just plain wrong’ doesn’t accord with Sensible Sentencing Trust’s views that everyone should be held accountable for
their actions”, says Kim Workman, Director, Rethinking Crime and Punishment. He was referring to a Dompost article
“Crims receive Six Figure Compensation” (10 Dec 12), which reported that a prisoner had received $5000 compensation for
the loss of a suitcase and contents.
There are plenty of countries where the prison and police staff regularly “lose” offender’s property and either sell it,
or keep it. They are the same countries where victims are exploited, and have to pay law enforcement officers a koha to
get their stolen property back. New Zealand is in comparison a corruption-free country and we need to keep it that way.
One way of doing that is to hold prison and police officers responsible for discharging their duties in a professional
and efficient way. That includes taking responsibility for failure, and putting things right with those that have
suffered as a result. That includes both victims and offenders.
Corrections CEO Ray Smith is right to point out that the number of prisoners receiving compensation is small, given that
108,000 prisoners have been through the system in the last five years.
If we want to keep that number low, then the responsibility lies on government to “guard the guardians”.