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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

letter from a Mother to Michael Gove - The Ipp situation being one of a matter of life and death!

Dear Michael Gove

Firstly i would like to thank you for taking the time to address my email.
I appreciate you are a busy man and it may be somewhat insignificant, however i really need you to personally read this, not another MP you personally, and i will keep sending this until i get some sort of personal response, for the sanity of myself and my children, for my partner who is at his wits end!

To me it is now in the situation of being a matter of life and death!

Whilst i am aware and appreciate you are in the process of addressing the current, yet abolished IPP sentence, i strongly and passionately believe it is impossible to do so without some in-depth first hand life experiences of families and prisoners alike serving this awful sentence.

I for one am completely in favour for punishment, as a mother of 3 and with elderly grandparents i am often left shocked beyond belief to the awful degrading crimes individuals commit against innocent people, and that prison first and foremost is the safest place in respect of the victims of these crimes and in many cases for the prisoner and general public, i am not blinded to dangerous offenders just because i am the partner of a man who indeed many years ago committed a serious crime.
However i am also a realist who after 9 years of being a big part of the prison environment have seen prison, in many cases is only a small part of the required punishment,
and being a partner of an IPP prisoner for almost 9 years has been the biggest insight into how the system has massively failed both victims and prisoners and their families alike.

It also goes without saying the damage this particular sentence is having on the prison system and staff also. I am confident you are all too aware of the situation, but undoubtable unless you have somebody close to you serving an IPP sentence it is very difficult to understand the impact on a personal level, which is why i have wrote to you to give you a bigger, more accurate flip of the coin so to speak,

I would like to begin with a little background information regarding my partner, i find it only fair to refer mainly to him as every individual has a different case, however the current need in my opinion is required in a vast majority of IPP cases.

My partner who i will … removed…….was given an IPP sentence in January 2008, of 2 years 256 days for a section 18 GBH with intent, he had previous for mainly minor offences, and had lived a life of somewhat disruption, devastation, abuse and neglect, and like many others turned to crime and anti-social behaviour in his teen years, abusing drugs, he served several very short sentences before receiving his IPP, in Jan 2008, addicted to cocaine and suffering major depression and wanting to end his life, he committed the offence as a massive cry for help, he wanted to be returned to prison for a lengthy sentence to get himself clean and safe from himself and the constant battle of life without any support or love, so much so, he even called the police on himself for which he was praised as they admitted if he hadnt he would never have been caught.

After his sentencing in jan 2008, he straight away engaged on all the courses required of him, RAPT PASRO CALM.. etc and completed all successfully, and got himself clean from drugs and remained a model prisoner, for well over 3 years was an enhanced prisoner, and in August 2011 after a successful parole hearing was given his category D status and moved to an open prison, things went good for him until he went to a children’s barbeque party, where alcohol was available for adults and he made the stupid mistake of having 2 or 3 cans of beer which addmittingly was not a part of his conditions, however that said, he did not consume drugs, did not resort to any violent behaviour, simply enjoyed a relaxed environment and fell into the normality he had been away from for over 3 years and meant no harm to anybody, however he realised this would have consequences and returned to his open estate an hour early of his curfew of 9pm and attmitted he had consumed 3 cans of beer and accepted he would suffer for it.

However this is where i feel the system has some of its biggest issues, staff seem to have no idea on a set protocol for licence breaches and instead of returning him to his room and losing his town leave for several weeks he was immediately returned to closed prison, having only been a first and minor breach.

im sure to yourself this may seem a little unfair that for this occurance alone it has cost him a further 4 plus years in prison at a cost of 40 thousand plus a year!
I am aware some prisoners do commit crimes on licence and in open conditions, but in this case i am sure other measures could have been taken?Sadly after discussing with many other IPP families this seems to be the case in many of there situations, their relative being recalled for a non criminal or violent minor breach.

This in my eyes is a major area that need addressing for not only prisoners and their families but for staff who also find the recall situation extremely unfair.
I myself have spoken with many officers over the years who find the system is flawed in this area and that many prisoners are being unfairly recalled. thus in return clogging up prisons with prisoners who could have been dealt with in another form.

Secondly i would like to give you an insight to the impact a recall has on everybody involved.
0nce again my partner had to come to terms with it being at least another 2 years before being given another chance of freedom, after initial shock we all came to terms with this and he engaged once again in courses and alcohol rehabilitation, even though probation said they did not see this as a requirement (despite returning him for consuming alcohol!) and in accordance to his offender manager within the prison he had completed all necessary work to be re- released at his next parole hearing.

However just one month prior to his hearing, despite recommendations from all to be returned to open conditions, he was assessed by a prison psychologist who had never met him or assessed him before who reported back he needed to do another course!
but with a month until his hearing, nobody recommending release felt the psychology assessment was deemed true enough to have his hearing postponed and it went ahead, however due to the psychology assessment alone he was denied open conditions.

This broke my partner, sent him on a downwards spiral, gave him no hope, made him feel all his rehabilitation work was useless to him, what once was rehabilitation measures now became institutionalisation, keeping him locked up purely for preventative measures, being recommended to do the SCP course by only one person, that the rest of his supervisors did not recommend, this left him emotionally unstable, having to do another 2 years, for me to have a breakdown, my children to suffer, causing nightmares, ill health in my young diabetic son who wanted to die because he still couldn’t play football with his dad still, i suffered from major anxiety, couldn’t sleep for months worrying he would take his own life, which he then started self-harming, the was no hope, no future for any of us.

We then proceeded in getting independent psychology reports done by 3 different psychologists, all of which confirmed he had no need to do the SCP and should be returned to open conditions, as did an IPDE assessment.

My partner on the advice of many professionals including his offender manager and probation officer and 3 psychologists declined to do the course and sat yet another parole hearing in October, despite all of this, he was yet again refused release on 4th November, my birthday, and 3 weeks after our best friend committed suicide, this was the final blow for us all, early this year, my partner started serious self harm, saw no future, no hope, told me to leave him, cried repeatedly, begged me to help him somehow, turned to spice for relief from his mental state, and several weeks ago was found in his cell, hanging, unconscious, had to be cut down by an officer and revived.

the devastation and reality of this sentence has broken an entire family, innocent children, their mother, a man who did his best to prove to the public he wanted to be trusted again, a man who did a charity marathon in prison, a man who talked many prisoners out of violent behaviour, a man who stopped numerous prisoners taking their own lives, who has assisted officers in dealing with hostile situations, a man who put himself in prison to correct his ways, a man who simply just wants another chance, to be a dad a husband, a law abiding citizen once more, the system wanted him to rehabilitate, he did, and for what?

To only be repeatedly punished for his offence.

I feel like there is so much more i can say, i also feel like i need to apologise for the long winded personal information i have divulged, but i wont apologise, i need to be heard, thousands of families stuck in the same situation need a voice, and i have done something i find very difficult to do and speak out for all of us, for the prisoners who have lost all hope, who watch their release goalposts being moved further away from them sometimes on a daily basis, for all the

IPP prisoners and their families, who have already taken their lives through having no hope,

no release date, for parents burying their children, for children burying their daddies, for children who have missed all their first days at school due to being severely over tariff.

They say if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime, but these men HAVE done their time, some 2- 3  AND 4 times over, many, through no fault of their own.

Surely its only fair with this sentence no longer existing it is unfair to treat them as if it still is, no man or woman nowadays can be subjected to this deemed inhumane system so its unfair they still are living this nightmare, we all are, no hope, no future, no plans, nothing, you sir have the power to make it stop, make it better make it easier, make it fair, make us equals, before the loss of life increases out of control.

These are my requests, and im sure are many others, and do not find them unreasonable requests.
1. Recall process is made clear and fair. Recall to be for offences that are reconvicted, or pose real risk to the public.
2. Prisoners who have done double their tariff and pose no PROVEN immediate risk to the public to be given determinate sentences released promptly and a shorter realistic licence period, for which would enable them to be around the much needed support of their loved ones.
3. Make available independent reports from psychologists not just prison based staff.
4. Ensure sentence plans are fair and achievable, and realistic to the individual, and cannot be changed simply on one person’s recommendation.
5. Make the IEP system fair.
6. Limit the amount of courses in sentence plans to avoid unrealistic goals and unavailability due to insufficient resources leaving some prisoners with no available rehabilitation work.
7. Actually make available immediately the resources for intense courses over a shorter period not courses lasting a year or more making progress unrealistic.
8. Make ROTL more family orientated as this is the ultimate support required to reduce reoffending.
9. Improve the bail hostel situation.
10. Provide better training for outside probation; make clear what can be done to avoid recalls.
11. Most importantly improve the support network for prisoners once released.
I appreciate you have the responsibility of the public to protect, but in all honesty, the public have a completely different view on this sentence than you are led to believe, after years of scaremongering people, namely the media, most of the public i have spoken to, and have taken part in surveys find this sentence inhumane and unfair, most in fact feel it has not been used as intended for serious offences such as child abuse, terrorism, serious cases of domestic violence, rapists, paedophiles etc... this is even the admission of David Blunkett.

I fully appreciate your stance on rehabilitation not punishment being the long term answer, however most if not all these men have already completed many courses, and are still not given the chance to put these into practice.
All we are asking is for change, to be heard, to be saved from a no longer existing LIFE sentence.
I have faith you can be the gentleman to bring hope to thousands affected deeply by this.

I wholeheartedly appreciate your time and patience to read this email/letter and will look forward to hopefully a detailed, open minded, helpful response

Much appreciation

Miss Kerry cove.

And on behalf of all IPP prisoners and their families

Heart felt letter from a Mother to Michael Gove To:
Subject: IPP SENTENCES. 18 May 2016

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