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IPP SENTENCES; A VIEW FROM THE WING LANDING

November 5, 2011

 

IPP A view from the landings.

IPP Indeterminate for Public Protection.

From an officers point of view this is a nightmare situation. Give a prisoner a life sentence with a low tariff (often under two years) and almost no way of securing a route out of prison. Add to this the propensity of IPP prisoners to have mental health issues or “personality disorders” and the fact that nearly all IPP prisoners drift wildly over tariff, the result is conflict. Lashings of it.

I have acted as personal officer to a number of IPP prisoners but I’ve only seen one move on. He had no discernible mental health issues, he found out what he needed to do, got his head down and got it done. He was released near tariff. This strategy is wildly out of reach for most IPP prisoners.

Being blunt about IPP sentences it seems that a persons mental health issue will reflect itself in their crime. Levels of violence will be excessive or bizarre, crimes themselves will be unusual or odd. A feature of the IPP prisoners I have dealt with is how very few crimes have a profit or monetary gain ambition. Most prisoners tell of very dramatic situations, fake guns, fire, hostages, churches, fear and attention. Very few speak of robbery or theft or money.

You can’t speak of IPP sentences without mentioning Joseph Hellers book, Catch22. I am reminded of one particular incident in the book that relates so closely to IPP.
“If you want to see the base Major you may wait in his waiting room only when he is not in his office. When the Major is in his office you may not wait in his waiting room to see him.”
The Catch22 for IPP prisoners runs something like this;
“You will be considered for release when you have completed certain courses and shown acceptable behaviour. The courses don’t run anymore and the secret behaviour passwords are Not Mentally Ill Anymore”

 

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5 Comments
  1. Good, brief and obviously informed opinion, but I wonder what your change or resolution would be, keeping in the forefront of your mind of course, public protection?

    • We must introduce a sense of honesty to sentencing. If someone is a menace to society and we consider that they must lose their liberty for many years, tell them and tell society. The IPP sentence lacks honesty and in terms of tarrifs it’s not transparent enough. I have come accross some very damaged and very dangerous people on IPP sentences and I consider some to be a danger to society if released today. We need, however, to be honest about our concerns and honest about their sentence.

  2. Then we need to look carefully at sentencing guidelines and make some serious changes? I mean, if a very dangerous person commits an offence that actually warrants no more than a 12 month sentence as per guidelines, and a sensible judge gives him 20 years (taking into consideration the offence and the danger said person poses to the public), offender simply laughs all the way to the appeal court, right, along with his legal rep, legal id bill in hand? Or perhaps it is all much much more difficult, and what we need to do is ensure that judges use IPP’s for the sole reason they were introduced, public protection, and that thereafter they are resourced and implemented properly? And fully agree with your statement on honesty within sentencing. Really enjoying your blog, well done.

  3. i would like to an interview with you about mental health to show in an article i am writing about this very subject

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