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Friday, 11 August 2017

Extended sentences there still seems to be some confusion about what they mean for release, categorisation and recall. Approved Premises.Maintaining innocence in prison.Mother fighting to help her son make a fresh start says probation failures have left him ‘high and dry’.Now time for virtual visits.


Extended sentences are a type of determinate sentence which include two parts. The first is a custodial term. The custodial term is like a determinate sentence which means you serve some of it in prison and the remainder on licence in the community, depending upon when you are released. The second part is an extended period on licence in the community, as decided by the court.

Part of the reason for the confusion is that there have been several types of extended sentences over the years, and changes made to these sentences over time which impact on how and when you can be released from prison. The two most recent types of extended sentence for adults are the Extended Sentence for Public Protection (EPP) and the Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS). 

The Extended Sentence for Public Protection (EPP) was introduced in April 2005 by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. It is also known as a ‘section 227 or 228’ extended sentence. 

On an EPP, if you were sentenced after 4th April 2005 but before 14 July 2008 you will be eligible for Parole at the halfway point of your custodial sentence. If you are not released by Parole you will be released automatically at the end of your custodial term.

If you were sentenced on or after 14 July 2008 and convicted before 3 December 2012, you will be automatically released at the halfway point of your custodial sentence.

Extended Determinate Sentences (EDS) were introduced in December 2012 by the LAPSO Act. They replaced the Extended Sentences for Public Protection.

On an EDS, if you were sentenced before 13 April 2015 with a custodial term of less than 10 years you will be released automatically at the two thirds part of the custodial sentence.

If you were sentenced before 13 April 2015 with a custodial term of more than 10 years you will be eligible for Parole at the two thirds stage of the sentence. If you are not released by Parole you will be released automatically at the end of your custodial term.

If you were sentenced on or after 13 April 2015 you will be eligible for Parole at the two thirds stage of the sentence. If you are not released by Parole you will be released automatically at the end of your custodial term.

It is important to note that changes to extended sentences are not retrospective. This means that changes in the law that happened after you were sentenced will not affect the type of sentence you have or when you will be released.

Some of the questions we get about extended sentences are about categorisation. PSI 40/2011 Categorisation and Recategorisation Of Adult Male Prisoners has not been updated since introduction of EDS, but does mention EPP. As with other sentences you should have your security category reviewed at least once every 12 months, unless you are within 24 months of your earliest release date, at which point you should get a review every 6 months. It could also be reviewed earlier if there is a significant change in circumstances.

To be considered for open conditions, you will normally have to be within two years of your earliest possible release. If your release is subject to Parole this means within two years of your ‘Parole Eligibility Date’. If you are released automatically this means within two years of your release date.
After you are released from custody you will be on licence for rest of the custodial term plus the extended period decided by the court. You should make sure you know what date your licence ends.

Whilst on licence you will have conditions that you will need to follow. If you breach the conditions of your licence and you could be recalled to prison until the end of your sentence, unless the Parole Board direct your release earlier. This is called a ‘Standard Recall’. If you are serving an extended sentence or extended determinate sentence you are not eligible to be considered for a 28 day recall, known as a ‘Fixed Term Recall’.

Our team have gathered information on this subject into an information sheet for people on extended sentences. If this may be useful to you please get in contact and we would be happy to send you a copy. Inside times

 


Approved Premises

 This month we want to answer some common questions about a subject we get many calls about—Approved Premises.

Approved premises (AP) are premises approved under Section 13 of the Offender Management Act 2007. They provide intensive supervision for those who present a high or very high risk of serious harm.  They are mostly used for people on licence, but also accommodate small numbers of people on bail, community sentences or suspended sentences. As well as functioning as part of monitoring and risk management, they provide key workers and a programme of purposeful activity that is intended to help with reducing re-offending and reintegration into society.

Whilst staying in Approved Premises you will be asked to follow certain rules, including curfews, restrictions on visitors and taking part in activities. You will be expected to take a drug or alcohol test if staff ask you to and to allow staff to search your room and personal property. There is more about these rules and other information in the ‘Approved Premises manual’ which is annex A of Probation Instruction 32/2014.

PI 32/2014 Approved Premises contains guidelines for probation staff about making referrals, suggesting they are made sparingly and with careful consideration. They should consider the person’s risk of serious harm and how the placement would contribute to managing risk and reintegration back into the community. They should also think about which premises and location would be suitable.

Referrals to AP should always be for clear reasons and not used as a default for people considered high risk. You should only be referred if ‘it is clear that this level of monitoring and intensive activity are needed’. Alternatives which may also be able to manage risks and needs should always be explored, including curfews and electronic monitoring.

As placements are temporary and short term, your offender manager should consider if the expected benefits are realistic in a short time. Residents can be asked to leave at short notice if the space is needed and this can cause difficulties, so placing lower-risk offenders in APs is not ideal.

The PI particularly discourages unnecessary referrals for people on indeterminate sentences. It argues that release is usually based on their risk of harm having reduced to a level where it can be managed safely in the community, which generally means that they will be below the normal entry threshold for AP residence. It further makes the point that Indeterminate-sentence prisoners who have spent time in open conditions may find AP residence a backwards step, as the level of security and control can often be greater than in an open prison.  They may also already have experience of life back in the community through ROTL, which lessens the value AP residence.

Approved Premises can offer some benefits to resettlement, such as giving time and support to connect with local services to find accommodation or employment. However, if your local connections are to an area far away from the premises you are referred to, this benefit will be limited. Moving away from your local area can also disrupt continuity of care for both physical and mental health.  Alternatives arrangements may be more suitable in cases like these.

If your offender manager believes it necessary, they can include residing in Approved Premises as part of the residence conditions of your licence. Refusing to do so would be considered a breach of your licence and you could be recalled. There is more information in PSI 12/2015 Licence Conditions, Licences and Licence And Supervision Notices.

If you are aware that you are being referred to Approved Premises for your release and are not happy about it, it is worth contacting your offender manager to speak to them about it. If you are hoping to stay elsewhere, like returning to live with family or friends, you should explain why you think this would be better for your rehabilitation—for example if people that you will be living with or near will be able to offer support. If the Approved Premises you are being referred to is far away from your local area and will disrupt your employment or move on opportunities or access to healthcare you should make sure they are aware of this as well.

Even after you have shared your concerns with your offender manager, they can still decide to refer you to Approved Premises. If you do not feel that your offender manager is taking all aspects into account, or if you are struggling to make contact to discuss the issue, you may wish to make a complaint to your probation service.

 
 

Maintaining innocence in prison
The challenges of maintaining innocence in prison come up time and time again though our advice and information service, as well as in the mailbag of Inside Time. It can cause a number of difficulties in relation to IEP level, categorisation as well as parole. Sadly there are not any easy answers but there are a handful of references to this through the current Prison Service Instructions (PSIs) which are useful to know and might help.
Incentives and Earned Privileges
People often tell us that they have been refused or lost enhanced status because they are maintaining innocence. However, PSI 30/2013 Incentives and Earned Privileges is clear that maintaining innocence should not automatically result in the reduction to your IEP level or to stop you progressing. Instead it states that ‘it is a prisoner’s commitment to rehabilitation, good behaviour and willingness to use their time in custody constructively which should determine whether they meet required standards.’
Despite this, we are aware that it can be difficult to demonstrate some of the criteria to progress, particularly if there are limited ways to show commitment to rehabilitation other than to take part in offender behaviour courses which require you to accept your conviction.
You should be given reasons for IEP decisions which must be enough to understand which criteria you have not met and why. If you think the decision has been made unfairly because you are maintaining innocence then you may wish to make a complaint through the internal complaints system.
Categorisation
Similar to IEP, the fact that you are maintaining innocence should not automatically exclude you from progressing to a lower category. Both PSI 40/2011 Categorisation and recategorisation of Adult Male Prisoners and PSI 39/2011 Categorisation and Recategorisation of Women Prisoners state the following:
‘Prisoners who deny their guilt may have refused to undertake any relevant offence-related work.  While the establishment must proceed on the basis that the prisoner is guilty of the offence for which he has been convicted, the recategorisation review should consider whether there is other evidence available which might indicate that the risk has been reduced sufficiently to justify recategorisation to a lower security establishment.’
You should be given reasons for any categorisation decision and can request a full explanation in writing. If you think your categorisation is wrong or has not fully considered all evidence you can appeal via the internal complaints system.
Sentence Planning
PSI 19/2014 Sentence planning states that ‘Plans must be realistic and attainable in order to be effective in providing offenders with an opportunity to address offending related factors and reduce risk.’
If you are maintaining innocence this will be relevant to courses which require admission of the offence, such as the Sex Offenders Treatment Programme (SOTP). If you are maintaining innocence an objective can still be added to your sentence plan to take part in an assessment of suitability for SOTP. However, you may be assessed as not ready because SOTP requires analysis of the lead up to offences. You should not be expected to undertake the course in this case.
If you are assessed as not ‘ready’ for a course such as SOTP, it can still remain on your sentence plan as a future target in case your stance changes or if a course becomes available that does not require admission of your offence. Other objectives may be included in the meantime aimed at addressing the readiness or other identified issues.
Parole
The Parole Board has to accept the court’s verdict so cannot assess whether someone is guilty or not guilty - they have to assess risk.  The Parole Board cannot refuse to release someone just because they are maintaining innocence.
PSI 36/2010 Serving the Indeterminate Sentence says that ‘a prisoner who takes a full and active part in the risk assessment processes, undertakes relevant interventions, addresses and reduces identified risk factors and reduces the perceived level of risk of harm they pose to the public, can potentially gain release at tariff expiry whilst still maintaining their innocence or denying full or partial guilt for the actual offence’.
However, people often report that it can be more difficult to show evidence of a reduced risk of re-offending without completing offender behaviour problems programmes.  If you have an upcoming parole we advise you to get a solicitor with experience in this area.


We have recently gathered information on the most common enquiries we get into an information sheet for people maintaining innocence in prison. If this may be useful to you please get in contact and we would be happy to send you a copy.

Prison Reform Trust’s advice team at FREEPOST ND6125 London EC1B 1PN. Our free information line is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 3.30-5.30. The number is 0808 802 0060 and does not need to be put on your pin.2017 by Ryan Harman. INSIDE TIMES


 
 
Mother fighting to help her son make a fresh start says probation failures have left him ‘high and dry’
The day last summer when Tracy Anderson’s son Riaz was released from prison should have been a joyful moment of relief for the Anderson family, but in hindsight they see it as the start of a nightmare when the justice system failed them.
Riaz, 20, had spent 13 months on remand at Glen Parva prison in Leicester, but when his case finally got to court, he was sentenced to 20 months for “violent disorder” and released, having already served more than half his sentence. By the time Riaz emerged from the cell beneath the Old Bailey late that August Friday afternoon, his solicitor had already gone home and there was neither a prison officer nor anybody from the probation service to explain his licence papers or what was meant to happen next.
Riaz had no money and no job, but he had one formidable ally: a fiercely protective ‘tiger mother’ who whisked him off to their east London flat.
Ms Anderson, 39, a single mother, immediately put in place the scaffolding her only son would need to ensure he never set foot inside a prison again. She enrolled him in a gym, made sure he signed up for Jobseeker’s Allowance, got him a mentor from peer mentoring charity Gangs Unite, and enrolled him into college to study business. “I also asked Riaz’s solicitor whether he would need to see probation and was told that if probation wanted to see my son, they would be in touch,” she said.
 
Ms Anderson thought nothing more of it until a month later when she heard banging on the door. “I opened it to find five police officers who said they’d come to recall Riaz to prison,” she said. “I was shocked. They said Riaz had been scheduled to see his probation officer on the Monday after his release and that because he hadn’t, he was in breach of his licence.
“We protested that nobody had told us about this appointment, but it made no difference: there was a police van waiting to take him away.”
For Riaz, it meant another seven months inside. “I was devastated,” he said. “I had served my time and learned my lesson but this felt not fair.”
Tears welled in Ms Anderson’s eyes as she recalled her feelings. “Inside I broke down,” she said. “But outside I had to stay strong to fight. I wrote to his mentor Colin James at Gangs Unite, I wrote to the charity’s patron Iain Duncan Smith, I wrote to our MP and I wrote to probation.
 
“I told them we had moved home since Riaz had first gone into prison and we never got any appointment letter from probation which must have been posted to our old address. I also learned that on the day Riaz was supposed to see his probation officer, no probation officer had been assigned, so anyway he would have been told to come back at a later date.”
 
Her persistence paid off and Riaz was let out in 41 days, but she was left with a bitter sense of injustice. “What about young people with no parents to fight their corner?” she said. “Riaz served three months more on his [first] imprisonment than he needed to because his case took so long to come to trial, and then he got sent back a second time for something that wasn’t his fault.”
Ms Anderson described how her son had been targeted by gangs and how she tried to protect him. “I remember the night it began in 2007 when Riaz was 13 and he came running through the door, shouting, ‘mum, I just been bust at [shot at]’. I thought, thank God he’s alive, it’s just a one-off, but that was the moment our lives changed.
 
WE started to hear of children being stabbed on our road. Later we heard about young people being killed. At first it seemed far away, but when young people you know are killed by other young people you know, it starts to become surreal. I worried every day that my son would be killed and I didn’t want him to go out, even to the shops. I gave up my job as a youth worker to make sure I was home for him.
 
“He and his friends were not angels, but they weren’t bad either. They would sometimes smoke, drink and make noise, but they didn’t break the law. Riaz is good with his hands and a talented dancer who has been in music videos. He’s also a loving, respectful son who wakes me in the morning, cooks me breakfast, tidies the flat.”
 
But at around 18 he changed, she admitted. “He became increasingly agitated that he had to defend himself the moment he stepped out and he started to carry a knife for protection. I begged him to leave it at home. Every time he went out I was a wreck with worry that he would get killed or do madness. Then one day the police were at the door to arrest him and my worst fears were realised.”
 
Visiting her son in prison and having to fight for his release were “the worst days of my life”, but “the nightmare is far from over,” she said. “Riaz’s licence expires in July which means that one slip from him before then and he will be sent back to prison.”
 
“I rarely see my probation officer,” Riaz said. “I am supposed to see [them] monthly and when I do they give me ten minutes max, but often they cancel my appointments without telling me. They don’t even bother to call. They make me travel all the way and then tell me it’s cancelled. But if I miss one appointment, just one, it’s back to prison for me.”
 
Ms Anderson brandished her son’s licence papers and pointed to a line that said: “The purposes of your supervision … are to protect the public, prevent you from re-offending and help you re-settle successfully into the community.”
“Lies,” she said, shaking her head in disgust.
“They are lax about keeping their side of the bargain and just make endless excuses about being too busy. Why should they get away with providing such a lousy service?
They should put the same level of effort into keeping him out as they did into recalling him to prison. They have not helped my son at all. It’s a failure of duty. They have left my son high and dry.”
 



Video calling technology should be made available to some prisoners so that they can stay in touch with family members unable to visit them, a review ordered by the government has suggested.

 

So-called “virtual visits” should be offered to inmates whose relatives are unable to attend jail because of illness, distance or other factors, according to the report.

 
It suggests Skype calls to encourage face-to-face contact for prisoners, including foreign nationals or the parents of young babies, as part of proposals to prevent reoffending.

Lord Farmer was commissioned last year to examine the importance of strengthening family ties in relation to reoffending rates. The peer found strong family relationships to be fundamental to change and “indispensable” for delivering the government’s plans for prison reform in England and Wales.

The prison system has seen levels of violence and self-harm surge as well as an increasing number of attacks on staff. Last month riots broke out at jails in Hertfordshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

Research indicates that reoffending rates are 39% lower among prisoners who receive visits from a partner or relative compared to those inmates who did not have family contact.

The Farmer review found that while there are areas of good practice, there is “unacceptable inconsistency” on the issue of family links. It recommends that “virtual visits” would be appropriate for a small percentage of the prison population with relatives who cannot visit them regularly or at all.

“This would most likely include most foreign nationals, but also, for example, it might also be too disruptive for new babies, young children or teenagers studying for important exams to come into prison to visit at frequent intervals – but virtual visits would keep up the contact in the meantime,” the review found.

The blueprint cites a facility in Northern Ireland where prisoners have been making personal video calls. The initiative would ensure that those inside “do not become stuck in a technological dark age which will ill-equip them for life on the outside”.

Relatives should be able to call the prisons from their own homes without incurring any extra charges and should be given help with the technology if required, according to the report.

Lord Farmer’s findings also show that there is “little respect” for family ties when prisoner locations are determined. He warns that the role of family work is “under-recognised” in current policy and recommends that governors be held to account for family work outcomes.

The peer said: “My report is not sentimental about prisoners’ families, as if they can, simply by their presence, alchemise a disposition to commit crime into one that is law-abiding.

“However, I do want to hammer home a very simple principle of reform that needs to be a golden thread running through the prison system and the agencies that surround it. That principle is that relationships are fundamentally important if people are to change.”

The Ministry of Justice said it has already started developing a strategy for taking forward the review’s recommendations.

The justice secretary, David Lidington, said the government was committed to transforming prisons into places of safety and recognised the need to provide inmates with opportunities to change their behaviour.

He said there were numerous examples of good practice, adding: “We will continue work on a strategy to best support offender needs. That has to start with the numbers of prison officers available to support offenders, which is why we are increasing staffing numbers by 2,500.”

Data released last month showed there were 26,643 assaults in prisons in the year to March, including a record 7,159 attacks on staff, an average of 20 a day.Hannah Summers 10 August 2017
 

 
 
comments


Jez
It's a good idea but there are loads of things wrong in there right now. If this is all the government can come up with then lord help us all. To little to late.
We need a drastic change in the prison environment for the better. We need a radical rethink on sentencing and a retrospective change to rid this inexcusable persistent persecution of people that simply want to get on with their lives. Mr Lidington you know what needs to be done, so it!
Regarding probation  recalling.The power of ones Mother can be significant.  A typical story of heavy handed probation officers. First opportunity recall. Not his fault at all. Disgusting.

Horton
And wow, they are increasing staff numbers by 2,500. Simply a drop in the ocean, when you think of how many more prisoners are now in the system than when all the staff cuts were made. The same tired old bleatings about ensuring that prisons are places of safety and reform. Talk is cheap. We've heard it all before. Real action is what is needed.

Howell 
I got gated once! That's when they release you from prison just to arrest you again outside! I got rearrested for missing a court date ,while I was in jail!

 
Zing I got this threatening letter from probation, been out 4 years now, no offending, no re offending,  or vdts in 11 years
 I did 7 out of a 2 year first offence guilty plea. I think the only causes for concern are probation, police , agitating me and stressing me out, put someone in a cage and poke them with a stick doesn't rehabilitate, they have no knowledge of anything that has actually proven to reduce reoffending.
Cooke Stay strong. You have done brilliantly so far.If Chris Grayling had not meddled with the prison service there would not be the shortage of staff that there is.

Pettit I feel he is to blame for a lot of what is happening right now. and to reverse the damage would take a lot more money than the government are prepared to hand out. If they stopped tinkering about with the system and find alternatives to help the remaining IPP.s that would take some of the pressure of. Will they do it though. Of course not ,they are scared of public opinion and how it will affect their credibility.