Saturday, 19 November 2016


James Ward is one of thousands of prisoners being held on the indeterminate sentence system that was scrapped in 2012.


James Ward, who was jailed for 10 months and is still in jail after 11 years
Video:Prisoners caged under scrapped scheme
Thousands of prisoners are still being held on indeterminate sentences under a controversial scheme that was scrapped four years ago.
The Imprisonment for Public Protection scheme (IPP) was introduced in 2005 but was later scrapped after being described as a "stain" on the justice system.
James Ward was 19 years old when he was given a 10-month IPP sentence for arson.
He is still inside today. That's more than 11 years over his original tariff.
James' family insist he has not been given a fair chance to prove he is no longer a danger to the public.
His sister April Ward told Sky News: "James had troubles - as in being a bit of a rogue - but he didn't struggle from any mental health issues.

April Ward, whose brother James is in prison on an indeterminate sentence
Image Caption:April Ward believes her brother should not have been given an indeterminate sentence
"But, basically, down the line of not having hope, having no release date, being kept away from his family, what he witnesses in prison has took a toll on his mental health, and the fact that he will never be released has basically made him think, you know, should he even lead this life?"
In a letter sent to his family, James said he is losing hope of ever being released.
"I'm banged up in my cell, all that's in here is a bed, a cupboard, a toilet and a sink," he wrote.
"I'm going crazy, mum, and I've had enough of this place.
"I'm staying in the block where I am safe. I'll be glad to get Christmas out of the way so I can get on with parole.
"I've not got much hope though of them letting me out. I can't see why not."
Despite repeated attempts over the last decade, James has not been able to convince his Parole Board that he is safe to be released.

A letter from James Ward to his parents from prison
Image Caption:A letter from Ward to his parents from prison
April said: "They've told James 'Just behave, do your courses, go back in front of parole and you'll be released', but James did all that, went back to the parole board and they said that he needed to do more courses and it's just a waste of money when he could be at home rebuilding his life.
"He shouldn't have been given an IPP sentence in the first place because his crime wasn't significant enough.
"When he does get to parole they say they need more courses for James to show he is no longer a danger but some of the courses are ridiculous and irrelevant for James.
"Substances courses for instance. James has never had a problem with any substances, so why would you waste his time?"
Marc Shuttleworth knows the anguish James and his family are suffering.
He was sentenced to two and a half years but ended up serving nearly seven under the same scheme.
He said: "You're in a highly volatile situation where there's not enough staff, there's not a lot of association.

James Ward, who was jailed for 10 months and is still in jail 11 years later
Image Caption:Ward was 19 years old when he received his IPP sentence
"The time you do get (for) association, limited time out of cell, there's a lot of arguments, there's a lot of fights.
"There's a lot of things that shouldn't be happening and you're in the middle of that, trying to better your future and prove you're not a risk and you're stuck in the middle of it, stuck amongst it. How do you get out of that?"
The Imprisonment for Public Protection sentence was introduced in 2005.
It was designed for high risk criminals who had committed violent or sexual offences.
But the indeterminate sentence was abolished in 2012 following inappropriate over-usage.
More than 4,000 men and women are still incarcerated under IPP and, of these, 81% have already served their minimum term.
Almost half are five or more years over their sentence.
The prison system is already in crisis with striking officers, rising violence, radicalisation and the smuggling of drugs. 
So the backlog of IPP inmates being held beyond their sentence joins a long list of demands the Ministry of Justice is having to tackle. 

Justice secretary Liz Truss MP on prison strikes
Video:Justice Secretary Liz Truss answers claims she is 'out of her depth'
Andrew Neilson from the Howard League For Penal Reform is calling for urgent government action to help these inmates.
He told Sky News: "These prisoners should be priority for resources, in many prisons they're not.
"But, even if they are made priorities that actually takes resources away from other prisoners.
"And, I think more generally, it really symbolises the lack of hope that is in our jails at the moment. There is very little hope.
"They are very dangerous places and prisoners don't feel that there is very much in the way to help them change their lives, and anything, really, to offer redemption.
"That's really symbolised by the IPP prisoner who literally must try and prove that they are not dangerous but doesn't have the means to do so."
Justice Secretary Liz Truss has admitted there are "very serious issues" with the level of violence in UK prisons.

Members of the prison service gather outside HM Prison Pentonville in north London on November 15, 2016 after prison officers stopped work in protest over conditions in prisons.
Video:Prison officers walkout after 'surge of violence' in jails
Ms Truss has met with the Prison Officers Association after thousands of officers were ordered by the High Court to return to work following a walkout on Tuesday.
They had been protesting about violence and "chronic staff shortages".
Ms Truss told Sky News that prisons needed to be safer but that plans to deal with the problem were working.
She claimed that half the additional officers needed in the UK's 10 most challenging prisons have already been recruited, as well as extra measures to clamp down on drug use.