Commenting on the ruling by the European Court on the indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“This judgement should prompt the new Secretary of State to institute a review of the cases of over 3,500 people held beyond their indeterminate sentence tariff dates, use his discretion under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012) to change the release test and eradicate a stain on our justice system.
The Prison Reform Trust has recently provided evidence and a submission to the Justice Committee’s inquiry on women offenders, and the Scottish Prison Service’s consultation on women in custody.
Read our responses here
The Prison Reform Trust has welcomed the appointment of Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary and called on him to have the “strength and courage” to build on the important programme of justice reform begun by Ken Clarke.
Overcrowding and high reoffending rates are a fact of life in today’s prison system according to an analysis of recent prison population statistics by the Prison Reform Trust. Despite opening two new prisons this year with a capacity of 2,500 places, 59% of prisons in England and Wales are operating at an overcrowded level.
Although the growth in the prison population has slowed down in recent months, prompting plans to close HMP Wellingborough, there are still 7,294 more people in the prison system than it is designed and built to hold. On 31 July 2012, there were 77 out of 131 establishments over the Prison Service’s Certified Normal Accommodation: “the good, decent standard of accommodation that the Service aspires to provide all prisoners”.
Commenting on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons thematic review of remand prisoners, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
People held on remand awaiting trial are innocent until proven guilty but the findings of this worrying review make a mockery of that principle. It’s clear that people remanded into custody are often held in worse conditions and receive less help and support than those convicted of a crime and serving a prison sentence.
On Tuesday 22 May the European Court of Human Rights published their judgment in the case of Scoppola v. Italy (no 3). The Court has confirmed the Hirst (no. 2) v. the United Kingdom judgment of October 2005 that a blanket ban on all serving prisoners losing voting rights is a breach of their human rights.
Prison Reform Trust's company secretary Geoff Dobson has written an article on the future of probation, originally published in the Guardian's Society section on Wednesday 23 May 2012.
Below is his article in full, and you can read the Guardian article here
What does a modern effective Probation Service look like? The closing date for two important Ministry of Justice consultations will be reached on 22 June. Proposals to reform community sentences have received publicity to date, not least because of eye catching suggestions to extend the use of electronic monitoring to track offenders and to introduce sobriety bracelets. Within that report is an important section on restorative justice, opening up the possibility for far greater use of this approach, both pre and post sentence.
The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and the Justice Minister Crispin Blunt have outlined the progress made towards diverting people with mental health needs from the justice system into treatment and care at a Westminster reception on 23 April.
The ministers detailed steps taken towards the creation of a national liaison and diversion service for vulnerable offenders by 2014, backed by Department of Health investment of £50 million towards its development and evaluation.
The coalition Government has abandoned plans to axe the Youth Justice Board, justice minister Lord McNally announced on 23 November 2011.The U-turn comes after Justice Secretary Ken Clarke announced that his department would not go ahead with plans to abolish the role of chief coroner.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill presents an opportunity to get to grips with a distorted, often ineffective, system which places too much store on what imprisonment can achieve.
With government amendments to reform indeterminate sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs), the Bill contains many important features of the Green Paper. It has, however, lost some of its clarity of purpose. PRT published a briefing for the House of Lords second reading which propose amendments to strengthen the Bill and help create a fairer and more effective justice system.
A copy of the briefing can be viewed by clicking this link.
You can also download Prison Reform Trust's detailed response to the justice green paper by clicking this link