Friday, November 30, 2012
Injustice - The IPP Hostages
The injustice that is the IPP sentence has passed much of the public by. There are few column inches dedicated to it, rarely a televised word, and only a sprinkling of legislators have given a damn. And yet over 5,000 people sit in prison for no reason other than the fact that their avenue to release has been blocked by the very institutions which put them there in the first place.
In thrall to the populist media mob the last government created a new indefinite sentence – Indefinite detention for Public Protection, the IPP. There was no legal requirement for this new sentence; Judges had the Discretionary Life Sentence at their disposal to deal with those who they believed posed a future public danger.
This was insufficient for the government, in that Judges had the temerity to use their judgement. With the IPP sentence, judicial discretion was neutered. A defendant who fitted a set of fixed criteria was obliged to be sentenced to IPP. Government predicted that only a few hundred people would be affected. It was a calculation of monumental stupidity and instead thousands of IPP sentences were handed down.
The government threw these people into the maws of the prison service and has watched them been crushed ever since. Those serving IPP can only be released by the Parole Board. And the Parole Board will only order release if the prisoner has completed various Offending Behaviour Courses.
The government has refused to resource the prison system to supply sufficient courses for the IPP prisoners, leaving them stranded and choking up the whole lifer system.
Now, thousands of people are stranded in prison. The government has abolished the IPP sentence – at last – but offered no solution or hope to those thousands remaining in prison serving that sentence. This is not only one of the most disgusting populist measures any government has instituted; it ranks as one of the grossest injustices.
Over 5000 people languish in prison, and their families stew in anguish, awaiting a solution.