More than 500 inmates have been jailed for longer than required because of errors the Department of Corrections made, the Supreme Court ruled.
However, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said that prisoners who will be released are unlikely to get compensation for their longer stay in jail.
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Corrections mistakenly interpreted the Parole Act of 2002 leading to prisoners being jailed longer than entailed by the law.
The decision is connected to appeals by Michael Marino and Edward Booth. Marino has told the New Zealand Herald
that they will seek compensation.
The Corrections Minister, however, said Marino “shouldn’t get his hopes up,” a report from NZ Newswire said.
“It's very clear that any claim for compensation would be very difficult to bring given that Corrections was complying with the law as it was, having been interpreted by the Court of Appeal on four occasions,” she added.
The minister warned that any claim for compensation will be “vigorously defended".
Collins noted that the Supreme Court ruling upended more than a decade’s worth of rulings.
“The law goes back to 2002 and there have been four Court of Appeal decisions in the past that upheld Corrections' interpretation of the law,” she said.
“We now have an entirely different interpretation, which is un-appealable, and therefore Corrections will comply with it,” she conceded.
According to reports, 21 prisoners will be released today while a further 500 are scheduled to be released earlier than initially anticipated.