Quote of the month

“The last time I wrote, I told you I was waiting to hear from the CCRC (Criminal Cases Review Commission).  Well, I did.  Waste of time.  They won’t go against what was brought in court.  I really thought they’d see I am innocent.  I was devastated.  I didn’t deserve none of this.  I am trying to keep strong but it is so hard.  You have to keep trying to help us… ” (from a recent letter to PPMI from a female prisoner).   Posted February 2020.

 

Innocent?

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.

Release from prison on tariff expiry (the minimum term set by the judge) for those serving life or indeterminate sentences is usually only from Category D prisons, unless exceptional circumstances apply.  This means that, to achieve release, a prisoner must first progress from a higher category (A or B) to a lower category (D).  But recat and parole decisions rely on risk-assessments, and these are based on findings of guilt – there are no tools for those maintaining innocence.  For this reason, release can be more difficult to achieve for these prisoners, and there are some who serve many years beyond tariff expiry.  Similar problems are faced by prisoners serving a determinate sentence with a parole element (usually the last third of the sentence).

Our Aim

To challenge the policy and practice in the current system through which prisoners who maintain their innocence are reviewed and progressed.

Objectives

News and Views

  • National Association of Probation Officers Annual Conference.  This was held in Cardiff, 11-12 October.  PPMI was pleased to be able to share a stall with JENGbA and FASO.  It was well placed, next to the meeting hall.  There were reps. from a wide background on other stalls, including the Longford Trust, who knew about PPMI and our work.  Several delegates took our publicity material and in conversation acknowledged that some clients maintained innocence and recognised the problems this can cause.  They also recognised the hard time those maintaining innocence can have coming through the system and moving on. 
  • PPMI AGM.  We held our AGM on Tuesday 17 September.  There was a good attendance and a lively discussion.  The annual report is available, please click on the Reports tab.
  • Evidence from appeals solicitors to the Westminster Commission on Miscarriages of Justice (an All Party Parliamentary Group).   For a transcript of their evidence please go to the APPG Miscarriages of Justice website and look for Fourth Evidence Session – Solicitors.  9 September 2019.  This is very interesting (if depressing) reading.  Website: https://appgmiscarriagesofjustice.wordpress.com
  • Inside Time, June 2019.  There is a PPMI article on p.42 of the prisoners’ newspaper: “Prisoners maintaining innocence blocked by poor risk assessments”. It is available on the Inside Time website.