The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue August 2010

IPPs branded ‘inhumane’ and ‘grotesquely unfair’

From Michael Robinson – Partner At Emmersons Solicitors

The Prison Reform Trust has published its long awaited report on the IPP sentence, entitled ‘Unjust Desserts.’ The report considers not only the considerable cost implications of the IPP sentence, but also the wider cost of social injustice and the lack of confidence that results from the unfairness and inconsistency in the IPP regime. Unsurprisingly the report found that more than half of all IPP prisoners have ‘emotional wellbeing’ problems, and had ‘relatively high suicide rates’, as well as finding themselves stuck in a ‘vicious circle’ when it came to accessing risk-reducing courses: the more IPP prisoners there are in the system, the harder it is to access courses and prove risk reduction.

Eoin McLennan-Murray, the President of the Prison Governors Association, welcomed the PRT report and called upon government ministers to review the IPP sentence. He said, ‘Day in and day out, Prison Governors and their staff are placed in the invidious position of having to try and defend the indefensible.’ Branding the IPP ‘absolutely inhumane and unfair’, he said that the sentence ‘totally undermined the fundamental principle of fairness for a significant proportion of the 6000-plus prisoners currently serving this sentence.’

The Chairman of the Parole Board, Sir David Latham, recently told the BBC that he considered that many prisoners were spending longer in jail than necessary, labeling the system for indeterminate sentence prisoners as ‘grotesquely unfair.’ In particular he said that the current system was too heavily focused on risk-aversion, and that no one had thought through the consequences for IPPs since the introduction of the sentence in 2005.

The Open Letter (Inside Time June 2010) has now been sent to every current Member of Parliament, and we will continue to push for reform. We recently received a response from the Prime Minister, who noted our concerns and informed us that he had sent the letter onto the Ministry of Justice for a full response (not yet received). As before, prisoners are welcome to contact us for more details on our campaign.

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Comments about this letter

12/8/2010 Malandra Wheelley -

Dear Sirs,

My son received a 2 year IPP sentence 2 years ago.
For the first twelve months he was under the impression that he was actually 'doing the courses requested by the court' it was only after that year he learnt that in actual fact he hadn't done anything.
Whilst in prison there has been all sorts of trouble. There's been times when violence has started and he hasn't been in a position to avoid it. The thing people refrain from remembering is that they're IN PRISON and not in the outside world, they're surrounded by hardened criminals so life is rather more difficult than out here.
What both of us have been through has been unbelievable. We've had a death in the family and a tragic accident. Has the prison service catered for the fact that he's been suffering with depression? No it hasnt.
Prior to going to prison my son already suffered with post traumatic stress and was prescribed with anti-depressants. As soon as he went to prison the doctor insisted 'he knew best' and refused to administer him ''anything'' even when we had the death and tragic accident in the family, he was left to cope with it alone.
Knowing now that he's no release date is a daily burden. Every morning he knows when he opens his eyes that he doesn't know when he'll be released. When he saw the Probation Officer she told him not to think of his freedom for (and I quote).

12/8/2010 Jo Ining -

My son is also serving an ipp sentence. From what I've heard a 2 year ipp sentence is severe, when the courts give out them as little as 6 month ones. However, it doesnt matter really does it? because non of them are getting out no matter what tariff they were given.
My son waited a year in prison and then he's been in prison a year after the sentence. But the first year isn't taken into consideration because of the sentence.
Please tell me if anything is going to be done for these lads? Please be honest and say whether they will be given release dates? I also joined the John James site supporting ipp prisoners, which proves that theres a lot of people on it. That man is helping both the loved ones who visit, write and their mental states of mind supporting the people who care for these lads. He is also doing all he can to try and support the lads themselves. Together we're hoping to highlight to the general public how disgustingly inhumane these sentences are. I mean, rapists, child molesters, they don't get them. They're out and bk on our streets whilst these poor lads rot in jails waiting and waiting to hear the news of their release dates. Please take all this into consideration and help them.
Jo Ining

Moderator's Note.
The Prison Reform Trust produce an excellent advice booklet about IPP sentences. You can download it from:

13/8/2010 kay lew is

My son was given 2 yrs IPP 3 yrs ago he's only just done one of the courses he needs to do, I agree there should be a release date. This is like mental cruelty not knowing.

17/8/2010 wendi -

We need to stop the trainee psychologists adding more and more courses long after the tariff that has been given there are so many errors by this department which prolongs the sentence this we are learning from experience. My partner has done 6 courses plus education and they want him to do another course in which he will have to wait another 18mths before he can start the course the course takes between 18mths to 2yrs to complete and he is already 29mths over his tariff why 4yrs ago was this not suggested? I believe that the prison service do not understand the IPP sentence at all so they treat IPP's as lifers which is wrong please email me please if you agree

29/8/2010 rita lister -

i agree with everyone the ipp sentence is harsh and inhumane. having no release date is mental torture i have a son on ipp sentence and its his first time in jail hes already self harmed this sentence is barbaric and needs abolishing can everyone get together and get a petition together to send to david cameron.

21/9/2010 margaret

will all prisoners reading these post please get your famly and friends to join john james on fb ,we are trying to get as many names as possible and then deliver the petition to the prime minster

1/12/2010 Linda -

Yes i agree this IPP should be sorted out. My son too is serving a 3yr IPP, has done the courses that was asked of him , and now been told he will have to do another which will not start untill 2012 - that will take him 2yrs over his sentence, then the course is 2 yrs long, its not only inhumane, for our lads but the stress it puts on family members as well. I'm not getting any younger and finding it a real struggle to see him twice every month, but will not give up on him as all parents, will stand by their siblings. PLEASE PLEASE, GET THIS STOPPED.

7/12/2010 sheila dalal

i agree as my son has had 2yres ipp and its been 4yrs he has not heard anything he has done all the courses .i m really stressed out cos i have health issues and it makes me wonder wat if something happens to me while my son is please do help all of us and think wat we r going through .

8/12/2010 horne -

my husband has just been given a 7yr and 120 days ipp for something he didnt do,and i cant find this john james site supporting ipp prisoners on fb or any where can someone please help me thanks.

21/2/2011 sandra taylor -

my son recieved a 1yr tariff in 2006 with a inhuman ipp he was due a parole on the 13.1.2011 20 mins before with the parole board in attendance it was cancelled because his probation officer in earlstoke prison had to go home on compationat grounds why could no one else in the prison step in to see his parole through.this goverment are all mouth they say in the papers etc about releasing these sentances but like all goverments they are all say and no do. they dont even have the decency to answer your letters when we write.what is your local MP for because mine in arundel couldnt care less.

Moderator's comment:
MP for Arundel is Nick Herbert (Con), educated at Cambridge and elected in 2005 he is Minister for Police.

24/3/2011 Bridgit Brooks-Palmer -

There is a lot of tragic cases surrounding these ipp prisoners and its only us, the families of loved ones doing these inhumane sentences who appear to 'really' care about them. John James has set up a site supporting IPP prisoners. If enough people will join, he can write to the Houses of Parliament and deliver a petition showing the amount of support for these men. Please, please join, because to make any kind of an impact upon these politicians it will have to show that there are a lot of the general public behind it. At the moment theres around 2,000 supporters.. lets see another 2,000 then maybe it will make them sit up and take notice??? thank you . Bridgit

24/3/2011 John James -

I am desperately trying to help IPP Prisoners and need the help of anyone reading these messages.
My name is John James – if you look up my name you'll see Supportering Ipp Prisoners in a box (instead of a picture) on facebook.

I opened the site last year and we have over 2,000 supporters joined us.
(because facebook limited the amount of people that were joining I opened about seven different sites, but they're all in one big umbrella and are genuine supporters for IPP prisoners.

Thank you to Bridgit Brooks Palmer as I am indeed trying my best to get these men help, release dates instead of people just ignoring them and leaving them to rot in prisons.

Ken Clarke MP is the only one who has stood up for us. I havent read ONE newspaper that will ''listen'' instead of making assumptions that ''all these prisoners are a danger to the public
We NEED the general public to realise that not ALL our men are a danger.
We NEED release dates, not suicides!!!
We NEED thousands of these men home with their wives, girlfriends, children, parents.

Please join us.. when I get double the amount of support we have now I am ''handing into Downing Street'' a petition showing the loyalty of you all. So please join us. John James

24/3/2011 Kenny Jackson -

I have just been reading the messages, as I usually do on the IPP Page (as I have a doing an ipp sentence) and it's no joke whats happening to our men.
We're sick of hearing we're supposed to be living in a civilised society.
We're sick of listening to politicians who constantly make a complete mess of bills put through parliament.
JOHN JAMES has got a site and along with thousands of others I am supporting this site.

John wants ''as many'' supporters as poss to join. He's writing a petition and handing it to Downing Street. To help him get these MP's to take notice – that our men need release dates, then John needs to have a lot of support. (for there's millions of people out there wanting to keep our lads locked behind bars labelling them all as danger to the public)

So he needs some serious support here ..
Lets get together and do something about it instead of sitting back talking.

(by the way John has wrote hundreds of letters to MP's. Inside Times, and even spoken to BBC Panorama – who ''might'' be able to bring this out in the open some time next year!!!
Another year behind bars for our lads.

In the meantime, lets get supporting this petition ''now''

29/3/2011 miarose -

this so called ipp order is inhumane it needs to be abolished now,waste of life and waste of time and money,

4/4/2011 rachel

My brother is currently on an 5 Year IPP sentence, for the first 3 years he was in a privatised prison that did not have facilities or courses for IPP prisoners. For the past 2 years he has done everything and more can have his category down graded and 9 months after his 5 years were over he gained his open conditions status, but that was last September and he is still waiting to be moved. There is no proper advice or support for him as there is allot of conflicting information on the IPP sentencing. He feels completely trapped and forgotten about and is completely institutionalised. Something has to be done, surely its against human rights to do this.

3/9/2011 katrina gallagher -

Hi everyone. Its over 18 mnths ago we all wrote to mp's (on the John James site) hundreds of us - Ken Clarke has tried to show parliament that this IPP sentencing is inhumane and not working. So we go on week after week visiting our relatives. My brother got a 2 yr IPP nearly 4 yrs ago, my mum had a heart attack in the end with the pressure of it all, she's in her 60's of ill health and afraid she wont live to see her son come home. Suicides happen when lads cant take anymore, how desperate must they be to end it all? theres no light at the end of the tunnel for them. Our lads are not rapists, child molesters, or beat up old people. Why they are these evil people allowed bk on our streets and STILL nothings done for those doing IPP's? I read the info left under my last message. What a load of crap. We all know what is expected of them.. but wheres the resources for the lads to do the courses coming from? and its even worse today because MP's that are fiddling expenses, living it up on tax payers money means prisons will never see a penny .. is anyone out there going to stand up and help us????

17/10/2014 charlotte gibson -

my stepson has served 9 years and is currnetky ib durham and is being treated so unfairly for disobeying a direct order which he hadnt even done and has two witnesses which are willing to make staements for him so i ring to get his solicitor to go and see him as hes ony got 7 days to seek legal advice if this cant happen he needs a fax sent to the govenor to get it adjourned so to have time to see his soicitor then you ring them they say they cant help cos of legal aid issues whats he meant to do it stinks especially as hes done nothing wrong

Post a comment

Summary of letters in the Mailbag for August 2010
Fair Trial?
Spread the word
Nose Distraction.
Get Tough On Sentencing.
Prisoners right to vote – British Courts local claim
Prison Visits And Maintaining Family Ties
Adopting the political swerve.
Personal Property
Thank you wing staff
Wax Or Tax
Isn’t this an ‘exceptional circumstance’?
Accessibility to items
Who’s extracting the urine?
Absolutely Absurd!
Probation hostels, sim cards & mobile phones
Call this protecting the public?
Viral outbreaks
Politeness Costs Nothing
Clarke’s Cuts
Investigatory Powers Tribunal
Gulag Lewes
Current page: IPPs branded ‘inhumane’ and ‘grotesquely unfair’
IPP Situation
IPP, If Your Face Fits
Ticking over
Roslyn Mary Runnette 1941-2010


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December 2014 Headlines
> Treat Prisoners as Human Beings, Not Criminals
> What are prisons for
> A search for any trace of the government’s Rehabilitation Revolution
> Tell us why you did it?... You must be joking I didn’t do it
> Care Act - what does it mean for prisoners
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> Take your first Steps to Success in 2015
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> Over-tariff IPPs: an appeal for your stories
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