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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Lobbying for changeThe Court of Appeal has ruled that it's unlawful for someone given an "indeterminate sentence for public protection" (IPP)

to be kept in prison beyond his 'tariff' (the period set by the sentencing judge as the minimum required for punishment, release thereafter being permitted on condition that the offender satisfies the parole board that he won't reoffend) if he hasn't been able to take one of the prison courses whose completion is a condition of release. It seems that a thousand or more prisoners serving IPPs are in this Kafkaesque, nightmare logical trap.
It is a life sentence in all but name. The only real difference is that it can be given for far less serious offences. But even after the tariff, the person remains in prison until they have done the courses necessary to demonstrate they are ready for release. He would only be released if he "admitted guilt"
Mr. Blunt commented that the previous Government had to reform the IPP arrangements in 2008, and that the current Government had inherited ‘a very serious problem’ with IPP prisoners. He said, ‘we have 6,000 IPP prisoners, well over 2,500 of whom have exceeded their tariff point. Many cannot get on courses because our prisons are wholly overcrowded and (they are) unable to address offending behaviour. For example if you had a prison term of 3years you may have five offending courses to finish as part of your sentence plan before you can be released. 18 month waiting list to do 1 course and that’s if they have the course at all at that prison .So instead of doing 3 years it may be 5 years or more until you have finished the courses. It seems you have to be smart to badger the prison to get on these courses. But what if you have learning differeces you may not of done a single one, and be left to rot.
So I have become very interested and concerned about the number of inmates with literacy and numeracy problems,  dyslexia and other 80% of prisoners have poor writing skills, 50% have reading difficulties and 65% have trouble with numeracy. Half of all prisoners are at or below the level expected of an 11 year old in reading, two-thirds in numeracy and four-fifths in writing.
This can cause truancy and also misconduct, even to the point of expulsion from school, which would lead to poor performance and low exam results, if any results received at all.
“Nearly half of male sentenced prisoners were excluded from school and nearly a third of all prisoners were regular truants whilst at school and more than half of male and more than two-thirds of female adult prisoners have no qualifications at all.” It is therefore not inconceivable that an individual with a learning disability can leave school being unable to read and write, having no qualifications and little prospect of employment due to even seemingly small details of being unable to fill in an application form or read an article to find a job.
But still many tens of thousands do and this can become the start of a vicious circle.
According to the Offenders Learning and Skills Unit in the Department for Education and Skills, just under a third of the prison population is attending education classes at any one time, half of all prisoners do not have the skills required by 96 per cent of jobs and over 50% were unemployed before imprisonment.The whole justice system is it helping or damaging the criminal. Surely we can't be that worse off. We are just not moving on with times. Some Criminals don't like to reoffend, but the system lets them down instead of helping them. I'm sure there is a lot of good in all of us if we channeled our efforts in the right direction.
End the “IPP”, training and education!!!

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