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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Controversial probation reforms .Recalled to jail on his birthday following a near 12-year battle for freedom.Why use a barrister and not a solicitor? Students and prisoners join forces .Literacy is a tool for daily life in modern society.Bromley Briefings Summer 2017.

key plank of controversial probation reforms shows no sign of improving re-offending rates

and could be ditched immediately with little impact being felt, a highly critical report concludes.So-called Through the Gate services were introduced as part of a partial privatisation in 2015 to bridge the gap between prison and the community as criminals prepare for release.

But a scathing joint report by two official watchdogs found none of the early hopes for the measures have been realised.Support for prisoners leaving jail was poor and bodies tasked with delivering the services are making little difference to convicts’ prospects on release, the review warned. It said community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) were focusing most of their efforts on meeting contractual targets, and called on ministers to look again at the arrangements.

The report by the Chief Inspectors of Probation and Prisons said: “If Through the Gate services were removed tomorrow, in our view the impact on the resettlement of prisoners would be negligible.”he findings are the latest in a line of critical assessments of a shake-up of the system for the management of offenders in the community in England and Wales.

A door being closed by a prison guard (Peter Macdiarmid/PA)

Known as Transforming Rehabilitation, the overhaul launched in 2014 saw the creation of the National Probation Service to deal with high-risk individuals, while remaining work was assigned to 21 CRCs.Previous reports have warned that the public has been left at greater risk of harm as officers manage dozens of cases at any one time and offenders are unseen for weeks or months.

The latest inspection by HM Inspectorates of Probation and Prisons focused on resettlement services for criminals serving sentences of at least 12 months. Publishing the findings, Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey said: “The gap between the Government’s aspirations and reality is so great.

“There is no real prospect that these services as they are will reduce reoffending.”

Through the Gate arrangements were set up to ease the transition for offenders preparing to re-enter society by helping them find accommodation, employment, training or education, as well as providing support managing finances, benefits and debt.A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Public protection is our top priority and we will take all necessary action to make sure the probation system is reducing re-offending and preventing future victims.

“We have undertaken an overarching review of probation, looking at the standards we set for providers and how we hold them to account.

“Additionally, we have made changes to how Community Rehabilitation Companies are paid so they can focus on activities that will help cut crime.

“As part of the probation review, we have been looking at Through the Gate services and will be publishing our findings in due course.”



Messages of support to  Danny Weather son


Big-hearted readers have been sending messages of support to ‘trapped’ prisoner Danny Weatherson after he was recalled to jail on his birthday following a near 12-year battle for freedom.
Maurice Stevens, Danny’s dad, asked our army of readers to write cards so he can forward them on to HMP Leeds to perk up his son.
And he is showing his gratitude by saying a big thank you to them all.
From inside prison, Danny said through his dad: “I’d like to thank everyone for the cards and the postal orders, I’ve got over £400 in postal orders which is great. I was down but this has made me proper happy but I still don’t know how long I will be in here.”

In a card that had printed on the front “sometimes it takes a lot of rain ... before you see a rainbow”, Paul and Angie wrote: “Hiya mate, me and my wife heard about your story on the news and it really moved us. Can’t imagine what you’re going through but all I can say is what’s in this card: ‘Stay strong’.
“You’ve done the hard part and so don’t fall at the last fence. Sounds like you’ve got good family around you. I hope when you do get back in the Toon you can find a good job and settle down. I bet you’ve had enough of that place. Hope you make it.”
Eileen wrote a card saying: “Stay Strong Danny, love & very best wishes

And a woman from Northumberland who befriends prisoners through their toughest times said Danny’s story was “tragic” and she would be “delighted to support” him.
Danny tugged on their heartstrings after Maurice told how he hoped his son doesn’t attempt to take his own life after being banged back inside.Danny fought for his release after being caught up in the controversial Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences which came into force for England and Wales in 2005 but was axed in 2012.

He was just 18 when a judge recommended he served almost 16 months for two attempted robberies before he could apply for parole - but it took 11 years and nine months for him to be released.'Trapped' prisoner Danny Weatherson released after 11 years nine months for a 16-month jail sentence
He got out on July 3 and was told to spend three months in a hostel in Leeds before being allowed to return to home soil in Newcastle.Frustrated to not be with his family, without benefits and miles away from home, Danny threw a chair on the floor in the hostel which bounced and cracked a window.It was on his 29th birthday on July 18 and he was recalled to prison charged with criminal damage.Maurice fears for his son’s mental state as he has already attempted to take his own life in 2016 when he was locked up.

Builder Maurice, dad-of-12, has now visited him in prison. He said “I feel a lot better now that I have seen him, it makes me feel happy seeing him happier. However I can’t stop thinking of his mental health and I wish the authorities would tell him how long he will be in for.”
When Danny, of Scotswood, Newcastle, spoke after his release, he said: “I have wanted to get out of
“I’m not getting the support I need, I am bipolar and things have changed since I was out last. I feel like handing myself back into prison because I can’t cope out here. I wanted to be back in Newcastle to be with my family.”

West Yorkshire Police, which covers the Leeds area, said they would not comment on individual cases.Last year we told Danny’s plight of how his time inside has been in high security prisons including HMP Northumberland, HMP Moorlands in Doncaster, HMP Armley in Leeds, HMP Frankland in Durham and lastly in HMP Hull.
His family revealed in February 2016 the parole board said he could be moved to a category D open prison.But weeks later, Danny was told the prison that had been chosen was changed and he tried to kill himself.
His dad used his son’s attempted suicide to highlighted the IPP sentences, intended to protect the public against criminals whose crimes were not serious enough to merit a normal life sentence but who were regarded as too dangerous to be released when the term of their original sentence had expired.Ministry of Justice data shows the number of IPP prisoners still being held since the sentences was abolished are over 3,000 and last year 553 were released.
The authorities admit the IPP sentence was widely criticised and “used far more widely than intended”.It was replaced with a new regime of tough, determinate sentences, alongside life sentences for the most serious offenders.
 
 

What’s the Difference between a Lawyer, a Solicitor and a Barrister?

The term Lawyer is a generic term used to describe anyone who is a Licensed Legal Practitioner qualified to give legal advice in one or more areas of law. Put simply, Solicitors and Barristers are both types of Lawyer.

Why use a barrister and not a solicitor?If you are eligible for public funding (also known as “legal aid”) if you wish to take advantage of this funding, a barrister should advise you to approach a solicitor first. This is because barristers cannot do legal aid work unless they have been instructed by a solicitor. Once you have a solicitor a barrister   can then work  along side the solicitor .

You may not wish to investigate whether you qualify for public funding, or if you qualify for legal aid you may prefer to instruct a barrister directly. In this case For more information contact: the Professional Practice Team on 020 7611 1444 3
Find your Direct Access Barristers on myBarrister., is a direct, easy access to expert lawyers, who offer the best advice on the difficult legal problems you may be facing – whether something that affects you personally
They are said to help you resolve your legal issue more quickly, more efficiently and often at a lower cost than a solicitor.Finding a barrister through myBarrister is completely free. However, please bear in mind that this does not mean that free advice.

Barristers are skilled at working out solutions to legal problems quickly and telling their clients. You won’t have to keep chasing them to deal with your issue.
Skilled advocates: using a barrister doesn't mean you have to go to Court. However, if you do need to go to Court, they are skilled advocates, who will present your case better than anyone else.
Better value: barristers can charge less than solicitors, because they’re self-employed and do not have the costs of running a law firm. They will agree their fees with you in advance of taking on your case or advising you on your problem.http://www.mybarrister.co.uk/#
 

 

Learning Together – students and prisoners join forces and overcome systemic obstacles

Many prisons now have some idea of what ‘Learning Together’ looks like and is capable of providing. With over twenty established partnerships between Higher/Further Education Institutions and prisons in England and Wales (and even Australia!), Learning Together ensures that ‘learning’ in prison is not confined to a means of obtaining qualifications primarily designed to quell fears about ex-prisoners being released to unemployment, and the links between this and re-offending.
 
In 2015, Drs Ruth Armstrong and Amy Ludlow pioneered the first ‘Learning Together’ course (‘LT’, for short), taking University of Cambridge Masters students to study with men at HMP Grendon. This prison-university educational partnership was underpinned by their vision of education as the very “practice of freedom” within prisons, focusing on “providing progression and pipeline opportunities for learners” and “challenging social disadvantage as a barrier to learning”.
 
Just two years on, a whole host of universities are bringing their students into carceral spaces to study an array of subjects with people who would otherwise be completely separated from this world. The LT Network has transcended walls that previously felt impervious to change and innovation, and such partnerships now exist and thrive in locations as diverse as the high security estate, young offenders’ institutions, and even in the London local jails.
 
LT’s biggest achievement to date is the creation of a community in which people feel invested in and responsible for, with former LT students encouraged to become a core part of its continual expansion. There is a clear difference between being taught how to be vaguely useful to the community in time for your release, and feeling like things matter to you in society; like you are connected to it:
 
“They’re my university friends…it didn’t feel like we were in a prison or anything. It was just a bunch of twenty-year-old boys and we’re in our twenties – it just felt normal”.
 
HMYOI Isis student. The idea of this type of learning becoming a network – a community – can be seen in what happens after someone finishes the course. To use the language of offending behaviour programmes, LT’s vision of ‘throughcare’ looks very different to that which prisoners may recognise.
 
A graduate of the first Grendon LT course (an IPP prisoner) has since been released, and continues his involvement in helping the LT community to grow. Many of his fellow students at Grendon continue to develop the mentoring programme that allows courses to rerun in each prison – the idea being that once a university provider has finished a course, prison-based students can commit to helping future students. Through this, we are growing a culture of helping the people around us, feeling valued and valuable; and, seeing ourselves as something other than ‘criminals’.
 
Torture of hope
 
From the student perspective we must consider the potential for LT to ‘do harm’ (i.e. in raising aspirations that the wider social environment effectually and repeatedly crushes) – Gareth referred to this poetically in his conference talk as “the torture of hope” – and insure against this.
 
While we heard numerous positive stories of Governors and prison staff willing to engage with LT, there were also tales of prison staff (at all levels, and across the estate) repeatedly telling LT practitioners they were ‘wasting their time’; that their prisoners were not capable of learning at an HE level (what Serena has termed ‘institutional cultural narratives of non-capacity’).
 
Prisons, and those who work and reside within them, are often (understandably) distrustful of new initiatives. They have usually seen and heard it all before. When Rachel Billington’s April review of the Royal Holloway/HMYOI Feltham Learning Together went live on the Inside Time website, only one comment was made: a caustic (but oft-true) retort that it must be a ‘wonderful experience for civilian groups to go into prisons and play with the offenders. What they don’t see is the prisoner living in a toilet cubicle, allowed out of the toilet cubicle to jump through hoops, and then locked back up in the toilet cubicle, to helplessly watch as the system destroys their family ties and links to the community’.
 
On an individual level, we must ensure that university students engage in LT with integrity and without a ‘going to the zoo’ mentality. Strong and consistent connections between partnership organisations must be built, honoured and maintained – university partners in particular need to be aware of the damage they could do to individuals in prison if they fail to act with dependability and decency.
 
“I want to see (Learning Together) embedded as a regular part of the curriculum, fitted in to one of our pathways and seen as normal practice.”
 
Emily Thomas, Governor, HMYOI Isis.The variety of university partners, prisons, and individual academics involved in LT means that the course options and availability are always developing and adapting. The range of subjects are expanding beyond criminology – the central focus of many LT partnerships – into social justice, education, philosophy and literary criticism.
 
The Learning Together Network continues to pursue funding at a national level for LT partnerships, and growing numbers of Governors are pledging their commitment to LT as ‘normal practice’.
 
While Gov. Thomas’ vision may sound idealistic to some, the fact is that the Learning Together community is already changing lives. And this enterprise corresponds with what must surely represent, going forward, the very core project of ‘the prison’.
 
Gareth Evans is a freelance researcher & former prisoner. Dr Serena Wright is Lecturer and Researcher in Criminology, Royal Holloway, University of London
 
 
 


Literacy is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments

Former inmate Steve Richards used to feel insecure about. Richards suffers from dyslexia, but had the opportunity in the 12 months he spent in the detention Centre to participate in Literal Change — a program he says changed his life.

"It had a big effect on me," Richards said. "I used my skills for writing people on the outside while I was there."
Richard wrote letters to his girlfriend and his 7-year-old son. He said it felt good to maintain that connection through writing personal letters — something he didn't previously have the skills to do on his own.
An essential Literal Change is required
Robyn Keystone and Martha Jodhan launched Literal Change last August. The non-profit program has volunteers visit two  detention centres weekly to help incarcerated men improve their reading and writing.
The two women have a background in education and a unique approach to literacy coaching. One-on-one literacy lessons aren't always accessible or affordable, but the skills are essential.
"Everything is reliant on print and text in the world today," Jodhan said. "We've met some guys who can't read simple things like street signs or a menu As the program enters its second year, they're training four additional volunteers, hoping to change the lives of more inmates.
"It's a really great feeling," Jodhan said. "I've seen some of my students in the 12 months reading and writing so much faster and feeling like they can apply for the jobs they want now because they're more confident."
"They said, 'This is fate; there is a lack of programming like this and we really, really need it
Literal Change has seen positive results and huge improvements in the men they've worked with, .
"We're doing really well. I think because we are organized, consistent, dedicated and passionate about the whole thing,".
The volunteers work with people with Dyslexia ...., and high school diploma hopefuls as well as ESL learners. They've seen men who have gone through the program go on to finish high school and get jobs after they serve their time.
In addition to literacy lessons, they also encourage the men to create art and write poetry.  The volunteers say the men are excited to see their work being shared . 

 
 
 
 

Prison: the facts

Bromley Briefings Summer 2017
The Prison Reform Trust publish their ‘Bromley Briefing Fact File’ twice a year. Drawn largely from government sources, these facts chart the extraordinary rise in prison numbers over the last twenty years, inflation in sentencing and the social and economic consequences of overuse of custody. They reveal the state of our overcrowded prisons and the state of people in them, the impact of deep budget cuts, the pace and scale of change in the justice system and the scope for community solutions to crime. Below are some extracts from their latest Fact File, published in June 2017.
 
Anyone leaving custody who has served two days or more is now required to serve a minimum of 12 months under supervision in the community. As a result, the number of people recalled to custody following their release has increased dramatically – the recall population has increased by nearly 1,000 people since the changes were introduced in February 2015. 6,554 people were in prison on recall at the end of March 2017. Nearly 8,000 people serving a sentence of less than 12 months were recalled back to custody in the year to December 2016.
 
The prison system as a whole has been overcrowded in every year since 1994. At the end of May 2017, 76 of the 117 prisons in England and Wales were overcrowded – holding 9,496 people more than they were designed to. 20,995 people were held in overcrowded accommodation on average in 2015/16 – nearly a quarter of the prison population. The majority were doubling up in cells designed for one.
 
 
There were three homicides in prison in the year to March 2017 and another six the year before. There were 64 deaths in prison between June 2013 and April 2016, where the person was known, or strongly suspected, to have used or possessed new psychoactive substances (NPS) before their death Rates of deaths from natural causes have doubled in only eight years. 199 people died of natural causes in the year to December 2016, a 21% rise on the previous year.
 
The cost of a prison place reduced by 20% between 2009/10 and 2015/16. The average annual overall cost of a prison place in England and Wales is now £35,182. The number of frontline operational staff employed in the public prison estate has fallen by over a quarter (26%) in the last seven years – 6,428 fewer staff looking after over 300 more people. There is currently shortfall of over 900 frontline operational staff in public prisons against target ‘benchmark’ numbers. Over a quarter (27%) of frontline operational staff quit before two years in the role.
 
34,256 people were remanded to prison before their trial in 2016, 11% of the total prison population. More than half (56%) of people entering prison on remand awaiting trial are accused of non-violent offences. More than one in 10 people (10,328) remanded in custody in 2016 were subsequently acquitted. More than one in four (28%) self-inflicted deaths in 2016 were by prisoners held on remand. Remand prisoners receive no financial help from the Prison Service at the point of release.
 
Over a quarter (26%) of the prison population, 22,432 people, are from a minority ethnic group. 11% of British prisoners are black and 7% are Asian. Black men are 26% more likely than white men to be remanded in custody.
The number of Muslim prisoners has more than doubled over the past 14 years. In 2002 there were 5,502 Muslims in prison, by 2016 this had risen to 12,663. They now account for 15% of the prison population.
 
 
People aged 60 and over are the fastest growing age group in the prison estate. There are now nearly triple the number there were 14 years ago. One in six people (16%) in prison are aged 50 or over – 13,257 people. Of these, 3,175 are in their 60s and a further 1,561 people are 70 or older. 226 people in prison were aged 80 or over as of 30 September 2016. Nearly all were sentenced when they were over the age of 70.
 
Indeterminate sentences account for 14% of the sentenced prison population, up from 9% in 1993. England and Wales have more than twice as many people serving indeterminate sentences than France, Germany and Italy combined. 7,275 people are currently in prison serving a life sentence and a further 3,528 people are serving an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP). Over four-fifths (85%) of people serving an IPP sentence are still in prison having passed their tariff expiry date. 574 people are still in prison despite being given a tariff of less than two years – nearly half of these (270 people) have served eight years or more beyond their original tariff. There are currently 59 people serving a whole life sentence.
 
The number of women in prison has more than doubled since 1993. There are now nearly 2,300 more women in prison today than there were in 1993. On 16 June 2017 there were 3,994 women in prison in England and Wales. 8,447 women were sent to prison in the year to December 2016, either on remand or to serve a sentence. Most women entering prison under sentence (84%) have committed a non-violent offence. 70% of sentenced women entering prison in the year to December 2016 were serving six months or less.
858 children were in custody in England and Wales at the end of March 2017. 42 children were aged 14 or younger. More than two in every five children in custody (43%) are from a black or minority ethnic background. In the year to March 2016, there were 28 incidents of restraint per 100 children in custody, up from 18 in 2010.
 
 
 
 
COMMENTS
 
 Oskie Hi, I need some help/advice. My gorgeous boy has been recalled on a nfa, I need a prison lawyer who can actually help us, been out for 26 months, papers prepared before he was even interviewed 😡. Can anyone recommend through personal experience someone who can help us and is empathetic with the cruelty of the IPP, thank you in advance

it's a nightmare of a situation. I'm pretty savvy and have used a good one in the past but he is now an advisor as retired and he's London based, we are in Cheshire, North Wales area so could do with One I can get into the office with and harass! Thank you for your advice,I shall update on my progress.

Jez   It is not fair. There is no easy route but a good solicitor helps. The biggest hurdle is the delays in the parole board and getting the recall challenged but as I'm sure you are aware their main remit is to look firstly at perceived risk. A friend of mine was recalled last October! He is still waiting for his recall to be reviewed. He  has a good solicitor but he doesn't do legal aid work. You want to do some research, call a number of solicitors. Your looking for solicitor who has good experience in prison law and probation. You want their names so you can google them and read up on their successful cases. Solicitors tend to list them in their portfolios. Also google Philip Rule. You may find that he may not be able to help directly but might be able to point you in the right direction. But be sure to put time aside to do some ringing around.

Blackburn Am ipp been out 2 year , ipp recalls are priority now for parole boards he won't be in long , Kyle solicitors North Shields , Newcastle, ask for amy hossak brilliant got iPps all over the country, best of luck this sentence is a joke

Ann Horton regarding reoffending rates well, they were warned that this would happen! But no, as usual, the government knows best.......