Prisoners stranded on indefinite sentences might have had their appeals rejected because non-existent offences had been incorrectly added to their files. Writing for openDemocracy Samantha Asumadu, spoke to the families and supporters of three prisoners serving IPPs (imprisonment for public protection) whose files, they claim, made reference to crimes they had never been accused of.
‘In at least one case, we have seen evidence that a man was refused parole after authorities compiled a dossier that included non-existent offences,’ writes Asumadu. ‘In another, a man was beaten by other inmates who wrongly believed he was a sex offender after seeing an incorrect reference in his file.’ You can read about the IPP scandal elsewhere on the Justice Gap – there are reckoned to be 1,700 IPP prisoners still in prison despite the discredited sentence being scrapped ore than a decade ago – see here.
The oD report highlights a Parole Board decision to turn down a request for parole by Welsh prisoner Leroy Douglas in 2020. ‘In 2003, the seriousness of your offending escalated and you received [a] four-year sentence for robbery,’ the Parole Board wrote.
Asumadu writes: ‘In reality, Douglas was behind bars on a separate sentence for the whole of 2003.’ ‘Leroy could not have been out committing crimes as he was in prison,’ his aunt Norma Borrett said.
It was not until 2021, more than a year after the inaccurate report was produced, that Douglas was finally deemed safe to transfer to an open prison.
Douglas’s hearings have been repeatedly delayed, according to the report – ‘once because the Parole Board said it didn’t have enough information and then again because a legal representative failed to turn up’ – and he remains in a closed jail. The prisoner has served time in more than 30 different prisons.
The Green peer Jenny Jones called the failure to tackle the IPP problem ‘so patently wrong and unjust, it’s hard to believe that it’s real’.
‘Those IPP prisoners still held, suffer physical and mental health challenges as well as over-prolonged incarceration,’ she said.