So, Phil Goff finds it "personally offensive" that prisoners can go to court and win damages from the crown when they are grossly mistreated by the Corrections Department?
Well, fuck it, I find it personally offensive that Phil Goff thinks that keeping people in solitary confinement for extended periods of time and forcing them to live in their own filth is acceptable treatment. I find it personally offensive that he believes that there is a group of New Zealanders who are not entitled to equal justice under the law or to the fundamental protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. And I find it personally offensive that he wants to "solve" this "problem" by trying to retrospectively punish these people for the crown's crimes.
What the Department of Corrections did to these prisoners was unlawful, and it was wrong. They are therefore deserving of compensation. If the government believes it is appropriate for violent offenders to pay reparations to their victims, then it should give judges the option to impose such at sentencing. But to impose them post facto, in an unlimited fashion and without the oversight of a judge is grossly unjust (not to mention a fairly transparent effort to insulate the crown from liability for future misbehaviour). If justice is to mean anything, it must apply equally, to everyone - even prisoners and criminals.
As for Goff, he symbolises everything that is wrong with the Labour Party today. He has compromised on its fundamental values of human rights in favour of arbitrary state power and pandering to the vicious vindictiveness of the "hang 'em high" brigade. As long as he holds his ministerial warrant, those who support human rights should not support Labour.