The Problem

Every convicted prisoner has a sentence plan intended to assist the prisoner to progress through their sentence.   Many plans will include the completion of offending behaviour programmes designed to reduce the risk of re-offending.  The route to progressing through the prison system can rely on successfully completing these courses.

  • Many of the offending behaviour programmes require a prisoner to admit their guilt.  They are therefore closed to those maintaing innocence.
  • The Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme (IEP) now penalises prisoners who do not complete programmes on their Sentence Plan, even when they are unable to do so because they are maintaining their innocence.
  • The lower the IEP level, the lower the prisoner’s wages and the fewer his/her entitlements to such privileges as letters, phone calls, visits, choice of work and escorted town visits.
  • Failure to comply with the Sentence Plan through non-completion of offending behaviour programmes, prevents progress from Category A (High Security) to Category D (eligibility for open prison).  This will inevitably lead to serving longer periods in prison.
  • 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, unless exceptional circumstances apply.   Those maintaining innocence are therefore disproportionately affected and their release prospects are jeopardised.
  • Progress in prison and parole decisions are largely based on risk assessment.  Risk assessments are however designed and written based on findings of guilt – there are no tools for those maintaining innocence.