Abolish IPP Retrospectively
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Sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs) were created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and started to be used in April 2005. They were designed to protect the public from serious offenders whose crimes did not merit a life sentence.
They were designed as a way to protect the public from serious offenders but have been used far more widely than intended, with some have been issued to offenders who have committed low level crimes with tariffs as short as two years. They have been handed down at a rate of more than 800 a year and as a result more than 6,500 offenders have served or are serving IPP sentences.
The Coalition Government abolished sentences of imprisonment for public protection (IPPs) for offenders convicted on or after 3 December 2012, calling the system “not defensible”. However, the change was not made retrospective. It didn’t apply to existing prisoners serving those sentences at the time. At the end of June 2016 there were still around 4,000 prisoners serving IPPs. In April 2016, the then Justice Secretary Michael Gove said that whilst he had “no current plans” to change the statutory test for releasing IPP prisoners, there were initiatives to help them make progress towards release. He asked the chairman of the Parole Board to develop “an improved approach” to IPP prisoners.
Joshua Mcrae is one of those prisoners still serving an IPP sentence. Joshua was just 17 at the time of his alleged offence and 18 when tried as an adult and given a tariff of 4 years.Joshua has spent 11 years in prison so far....
Despite all of the things that have happened to Joshua while in prison, he has not reacted in a way that suggests he would harm anyone physically. He has not been charged with harming other prisoners and has shared a cell without issue. The idea behind the IPP sentence was to protect the public and yet the criteria that they have to fit to ‘prove’ they are not a risk is almost impossible. Comparing prison to the community is ludicrous, there are many more issues than those highlighted in the prison service, acts of violence are more apparent than in the typical community, drug use is higher than ever and corruption is again becoming more and more common. Issues are magnified and sadly there is nowhere to retreat to except inside your own mind. Human nature means that we all have a need to feel loved, secure, safe….how do we provide that in a prison environment? The simple answer is we don’t. Joshua of late has been very low in mood and has retreated into himself. He feels hopeless and desperate as he feels he is never coming home. I can honestly say I am scared for him and the future should he have to spend another 11 years in prison. This sentence is a never ending nightmare for all of us that have a loved one in this position and of course the person who is subject to it. Goal posts are constantly being moved and it is impossible to achieve anything in respect of gaining release. “
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