“many parole panels still associate maintaining innocence as being evidence of increased risk” (D. Kingham. Association of Prison Solicitors)
Miscarriages of justice happen. Even in the best legal systems. Most people believe that there are systems in place to put things right. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) was set up following the notorious cases of the Guilford 4 and the Birmingham 6 to do just that.
But it doesn’t work like that in reality. The CCRC is often unable to help victims of wrongful conviction. The prisoner has been found guilty by a court and therefore remains guilty in the eyes of the public as well as the Criminal Justice System; and it does not stop there…The Problem
To challenge the policy and practice in the current system through which prisoners who maintain their innocence are reviewed and progressed.Objectives
- Prisoners write to PPMI: In the last 12 months we have been in correspondence with 200 prisoners maintaining innocence. 136 have completed a questionnaire giving details of their situation. These have been analysed and an article summarising the results will be published soon in the prison newspaper, Inside Time.
- New courses for those convicted of sex offences: Two new courses (Horizon and Kaizen) replacing the earlier Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (SOTP) have now started. They do not require an individual to discuss their offences and so are open to those maintaining innocence.
- A useful article: Dean Kingham (Parole Board lead for the Association of Prison Lawyers) has written about how Offending Behaviour Programmes play an over dominant role in assessing a prisoner’s level of risk:
“Whether a prisoner has completed an accredited programme has been seen as central to whether risk has been reduced. Arguments to parole boards that accredited offending behaviour programmes are not necessary for release/progression have regularly fallen on deaf ears… For those maintaining their innocence this can be a particular problem, particularly given maintaining innocence or the favoured term ‘in denial’ has been seen to be a significant risk factor. Within the last 12 months there has been a breakthrough as psychological research studies have shown this is not the case and maintaining innocence can actually be a protective factor….” If you would like a copy of Dean Kingham’s paper, please write to PPMI enclosing a stamped addressed envelope.
- JENGbA case referred to Court of Appeal: For the first time, a conviction under the ‘joint enterprise’ law has been referred by the CCRC to the Court of Appeal. See Useful Links tab for the JENGbA website.