This morning BBC Radio 4's Today programme examined the enduring legacy of the Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection. Nearly four years since its abolition, there are still over 4,000 people in prison serving this discredited sentence, unsure when or if they will ever be released. Four out of every five are still stuck behind bars despite having served their minimum term, no longer in prison for what they have done, but for what they might do.
The programme profiled case of James Ward, who in 2006 was given an IPP sentence with a ten month tariff, the time he must spend in prison. Ten years later he is still in prison and has no release date. You can listen to James' story by clicking here.
Prison Reform Trust director, Juliet Lyon, appeared on BBC Radio 4 to press for a case by case review for people stuck in prison on the IPP, unsure of when they will be released. Click here to listen to the interview on BBC Radio 4, and click here to listen to her interview on BBC 5 Live.
Today's welcome intervention by Ken Clarke, who abolished the sentence whilst justice secretary in 2012, and the admission by former Home Secretary David Blunkett that he regrets the injustices of the sentence, place further pressure on the government to address this injustice and outline a clear plan to confine the IPP to the history books once and for all.
Following correspondence and a meeting with the Justice Secretary, PRT noted that Michael Gove was considering how best to tackle the terrible legacy of this discredited sentence.
Click read more for further information about the IPP sentence.
Up to half of all children in custody have been in care at some point. This is a tragic waste of young lives which must be addressed if all children in care are to get the best start in life, an independent review chaired by the crossbench peer Lord Laming has said.
The review, established by the Prison Reform Trust, calls for a coherent programme of reform, led from the very top of government, to help improve the life chances of looked after children and prevent future crime.
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Commenting on today’s announcement of a Prisons Bill in the Queen’s Speech, Juliet Lyon director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“It's good that prison reform is at the top of the government’s agenda—for far too long prisons have been our most neglected, least visible public service. The most pressing priority is to restore prison safety and stem the catastrophic rise in suicides, violence and disorder.
More freedom for governors, long overdue access to modern IT, sensible plans for release on temporary licence and constructive use of tagging to curtail liberty should all be part of a modern justice system.
But reform will run into the sand unless government is prepared to tackle prison numbers and introduce major sentencing reform as part of its groundbreaking Prisons Bill."
Commenting on the Justice Committee's report Peter Dawson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“The Justice Committee’s shocking report requires an urgent practical response. Recruiting and retaining staff is part of that. But we are also paying the price for our over-use of imprisonment. The Government’s prison reform package must tackle both issues if stability is to be restored.”