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‘IPP Sentences’ – the ‘Nightmare.’ by David Wells
I was delighted to read in Converse recently of Government plans to end the IPP ‘nightmare’ – but my delight was short-lived when I quickly realised any changes they make will not be backdated and so won’t apply to those who are already serving this sentence: for them the IPP nightmare continues, and I’m determined to do what I can to help.
To impose a sentence, riddled with issues which mean no-one can realistically complete it, is nothing short of criminal in my opinion. Too many IPP prisoners remain in jail having completed their tariffs, sometimes having served years and years beyond the minimum term.
I’m not interested in any attempt to cover up the embarrassment that this sentence has caused successive Governments, on the contrary my mission is to expose it. The truth is that IPP sentences don’t work, they destroy the lives of prisoners, and ruin the lives of their families too – the Parole Board is no better.
They moan about heavy caseloads, while others just argue IPP prisoners are responsible for prison overcrowding and are a drain on resources – whatever the problems are, they are NOT the fault of the serving IPP prisoner. Courts impose IPP sentences with no regard to long-term mental anguish for the inmate and the breakdown in family relationships they create.
As the Parole Board buckles under pressure they become more and more ill equipped to make informed decisions on risk – evolving in to an organisation that is allergic to risk and, as a former Parole Board Chairman shockingly admitted they detain prisoners over tariff rather than release those who only ‘might’ re-offend.
The problems faced by IPP inmates, who are often some of the most vulnerable people in society, illustrates how such prisoners have been neglected. I genuinely hope that if the law does change, those that remain in the system are shown dignity and respect – and I will do my level best to ensure that happens for my IPP clients.
What we must do is give prisons the vital resources they need for IPP sentence progression; allow IPPs access to courses, setting achievable targets – and house IPPs in prisons offering the right Offender Behaviour Programmes.
Even those IPPs deemed to have the intellectual capacity to attend courses (and many through no fault of their own who do not) will ultimately be assessed for release on ‘risk’, and risk that is itself founded on wholly inadequate contact with probation, and reports prepared by, at best, wholly inexperienced staff. These reports are often done at the very last minute, by those with virtually no knowledge of the prisoner at all, other than what they read – and what they read has often been written by others like themselves, in a rush and with a tragically similar lack of knowledge of the inmate concerned that they possess themselves.
ot really no anything about the law in regards to sentencing but feel that the IPP sentencing seems unfair and my belief it needs reviewing.