Trapped…10 Months Becomes 10 Years

A news feed earlier today describes a system gone awry. James Ward, a 31 year old inmate, seems to be stuck in the UK’s prison system. James has regular contact with BBC Radio 4 Today. As recent as this morning reporter Zoe Conway, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36410539,
reported on the circumstances surrounding Mr. James Wards incarceration.

James first entered the UK’s prison system in 2000-2006 after a physical dispute with his father and the family dog. James had been a troubled teen and the family was fed up with his actions. The police were summoned and James was taken away for a 1 year sentence, hopeful that he would learn something and change his behavior.

Ten years later, James is still in jail. Almost at the end of his sentence, James set the mattress in his cell on fire. He was determined by the parole board that he was possibly unsafe in public. He was sentenced another 10 months in prison. How can this happen?

In 2003 the then government body in the UK established the IPP, Imprisonment for Public Protection. This program was geared towards 900 inmates that consisted of violent offenders and sexual offenders. These inmates were not given a life sentence, but they also were not given a concrete release date, called indeterminate imprisonment. The idea was to monitor their behavior while serving their sentence to determine if any changes were made and the could at some point return to public and not be a harm to you and I. Unfortunatly this system somehow began to encompass a high proportion of all inmates, including someone convicted a stealing a cell phone, and James Ward.

James parents are worried that prison life has taken the ultimate toll on their son. They fear to receive that call that James has taken his own life. Remember he is only 31 years old.