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Wednesday, 10 September 2014


IPP A view from the landings.

From an  Prison officers point of view this is a nightmare situation. Give a prisoner a life sentence with a low tariff (often under two years) and almost no way of securing a route out of prison. Add to this the propensity of IPP prisoners to have mental health issues or “personality disorders” and the fact that nearly all IPP prisoners drift wildly over tariff, the result is conflict. Lashings of it.
I have acted as personal officer to a number of IPP prisoners but I’ve only seen one move on. He had no discernible mental health issues, he found out what he needed to do, got his head down and got it done. He was released near tariff. This strategy is wildly out of reach for most IPP prisoners.
Being blunt about IPP sentences it seems that a persons mental health issue will reflect itself in their crime. Levels of violence will be excessive or bizarre, crimes themselves will be unusual or odd. A feature of the IPP prisoners I have dealt with is how very few crimes have a profit or monetary gain ambition. Most prisoners tell of very dramatic situations, fake guns, fire, hostages, churches, fear and attention. Very few speak of robbery or theft or money.
You can’t speak of IPP sentences without mentioning Joseph Hellers book, Catch22. I am reminded of one particular incident in the book that relates so closely to IPP.
“If you want to see the base Major you may wait in his waiting room only when he is not in his office. When the Major is in his office you may not wait in his waiting room to see him.”
The Catch22 for IPP prisoners runs something like this;
“You will be considered for release when you have completed certain courses and shown acceptable behaviour. The courses don’t run anymore and the secret behaviour passwords are Not Mentally Ill Anymore”

By prisonscrew.

IPP Petition. We have another opportunity to go back to parliament.I want the parents of all ipp Family and supporters to be there this time. To stand up and fight back !!!

The email is a response to my letter sent last month. We have another opportunity to go back to parliament to see what more can be done, we must seek to move forward . I have worked hard to get us this opportunity. A date is yet to be set and when it is I expect all the familys to be there this time, and know accuses. Please don't say your going but have know intention oat  lather, there is nothing worse. If your Ipp is important to you and you want to see them home do something about it. If you all thought the same some one else will go which happened last time very few bothered to turn up, how sad is that.The way i see it If you cant be bothered well frankly why should I.

When the group began, the aim was to encourage each other and individuals to work together represent the Ipp’s, that we can work together to raise awareness to take positive action . To work with others in the aim to bring about change I'm hopeful that we can make this happen together.      IPP Petition

 RE: Your email from Kelvin Hopkins 9th September 

Dear Katherine,

I am looking to see how we can best assist you from here.

Would you like me to book a room for you and other families? If you know of other families whose Member of Parliament was involved in setting up this EDM last time around, it may be worth asking them to lobby their MP to table a new EDM. As I’d said before, Gavin isn’t in a position to be able to do this unfortunately.

Equally, if you would like Gavin to raise queries directly with the relevant Home Office Minister, he would be happy to do that.

Kind regards,

Amy O'Callaghan
Office of Gavin Shuker MP
Labour MP for Luton South and Shadow International Development Minister

The Forgotten Lifers

The Forgotten Lifers

Following the decision in Osborn and the unprecedented increase in Parole Board reviews, a considerable amount of interest has been generated in the national media regarding IPP sentences.
Of course, this interest must be applauded and any pressure which can be applied to finally curtail this monstrous piece of legislation should be welcomed. However, there are other prisoners in the estate who to a significant degree can find themselves understandably frustrated by the spotlight being set on IPP and at the same time leaving them in the shadows. They are those imposed an automatic life sentence between 1997 and April 2005, essentially for a second offence for one of 11 very serious offences, commonly referred to as the 'two strikes and you're out' sentence.
The history of such punitive periods for lifers started when life sentences were introduced in 1983 by the then Conservative administration. This was amongst other things as a result of the policy of "Three Strikes system" in the United States. However, the philosophy of US penal policy is somewhat different from that in the European Continent. The ideology and driver behind the US "Three Strikes system" is in my belief based upon the fundamental US premise that 'rehabilitation doesn't work', which means lock criminals up forever or kill them; both options are ridiculously expensive.
However, the European ideology is essentially one of working toward rehabilitation. The UK wants to go down the US system but realises it is too expensive, (even with the savings it can make with contracts to the private sector) and at the same time it has to contend with the European Courts and therefore it is limited from going the whole way.
In short, although in recent months the public and media attention has been focused that IPPs are a bad idea and the implementation of them was ill thought out, the reality is that the fundamental model of sentencing policy is not fit for the purpose of what one would hope is a modern enlightened and pragmatic penal system. Sadly, the current administration would appear to have contempt for the whole issue of prisons in relegating the minister in charge to an unpaid role, I am given to understand. There is a saying, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys ... what happens when you are not paying anything at all?
There are two ways to stop recidivism, lock up offenders forever or have a programme of proper rehabilitation, with proper access to the resources to enable that rehabilitation. The current position is an ill-conceived adhoc 'compromise' of the two. The concerns highlighted with IPP sentences recently are equally valid for life sentences. The Parole Board and the Prison Service need a full time paid minister with a full grasp of the issues to implement a dramatic review of automatic lifers. Sadly, given the current 'demotion' in status, I have to conclude the will is not there on their part to do so.
Simon Rollason is a Solicitor Advocate and Prison Law Specialist at GC Law Ltd in Hereford. Simon has represented inmates on Death Row in The State of Texas.

Comments about this article

8/9/2014 MARTINA
It's not only the prisoners with no release date that suffer, it's the supporting families that go through it with them too. Mental Torture not having a release date. When is the justice system going to REALLY do something about this mess, if at all?