Prisons in the press – 3 June

Students call for prisons ban and former justice secretary demands a change of rules 

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Two prisoners in both the UK and the US mistakenly spent time in jail. Image: Krystian Olszanski

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Prisons in the press brings you the best articles from the past week to keep you up-to-date on prison news.

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Hot off the press

Former justice secretary says rules on “public danger” prisoners need to change. Ken Clarke says parole boards should have more power to free criminal jailed because they were a danger to the public. The BBC has the story

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Revealed this week

  1. A project that helps dads in prison connect with their children is under threat. The “Mellow Dads” programme has improved the parenting skills of inmates at HMP Oakwood but its future hangs in the balance. Community Care has more.
  2. Prison officer reveals shocking inside story of life in Britain’s crisis-hit jails. In an alarming expose, The Secret Warder describes prison as “one big revolving door” and says legal highs have created a battle ground. The Mirror has the story.
  3. Students call for prisons to be banned. NUS group headed by union’s “anti-semitic” new president says all criminals should be freed. Delegates of the NUS black students’ conference said jail is “sexist and racist” and called for inmates to be freed. MailOnline has more.
  4. Prison Islam course “could turn prisoners to violence”. A manual used by imams to teach prison inmates about Islam risks “turning people into jihadis”, cleric Sheikh Musa Admani has said. The BBC has the story.
  5. Wrexham’s super prison jobs still up for grabs. The £212m HMP Berwyn site which is being constructed at the town’s former Firestone factory base is due to open in February next year. The Daily Post has more.

 

In comment this week

Why we should close women’s prisons and treat their crimes more fairly. Professor Mirko Bagaric, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Sentencing explains that sentencing systems around the world should be radically reformed to start with the assumption that women should not be sent to prison for their crimes. The Guardian has more.

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News in context: Public danger prisoners

Former justice secretary Ken Clarke told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “absurd” to keep prisoners in jail beyond their original terms.

In 2012 Mr Clarke abolished IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) sentences, saying they were “a stain” on the justice system.
Introduced by Labour in 2003, the IPP saw offenders serve a minimum jail term set by a judge, after which they could apply to the Parole Board for release. The boards could only approve release if it regarded the offender as safe to rejoin the community.
Mr Clarke said told the Today programme there was a “ludicrous amount of incarceration in this country” and added:

“It is quite absurd that there are people who might be there for the rest of their lives, in theory, who are serving a sentence which Parliament agreed to get rid of because it hadn’t worked as anybody intended.”

“The trouble is this ridiculous burden on the Parole Board of saying they can only release people if it’s proved to them they’re not really a danger to the public.”

“No prisoner can prove that – you never know when people are going to lose their control, what’s going to happen to them when they’re released.”

 

Michael Gove  Image: Policy Exchange

Michael Gove has ordered a review of IPPs. Image: Policy Exchange

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IPP was originally intended to be applied when the most offenders were sentence, with an estimated 900 expected to be affected.
But it was applied much more widely, with 6,000 people serving the sentence at its peak.
Justice Secretary Michael Gove has now ordered a review of the position of thousands of prisoners serving an IPP. Some 4,000 people sentenced with an IPP remain in prison.

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In other news 

In the US: A man spent five months in prison because “no on told him his bail was $2”. Aitabdel Salem languished in Riker’s Island prison even though he could have walked out at any time. The Independent has the story.

In the UK: Prisoner spent nearly a year in jail – after he forgot his solicitor’s name. Paul O’Hare spent 23-and-a-half hours a day in his cell, with cockroaches and rats, until he finally remembered the name of his solicitor. The Mirror has more.

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If you’d like to be added to the Prisons in the Press list to receive the newsletter every Friday, please email us at: UKprisonwatch@gmail.com 



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