Following the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of R (on the application of Haney, Kaiyam, Robinson and Massey) v Secretary of State for Justice [Kaiyam represented by Carl Miles, of Burton Copeland LLP and Pete Weatherby QC and Vijay Jagadesham, of Garden Court North Chambers], Indeterminate Sentenced Prisoners (ISP) (that is life sentenced prisoners and IPPs), now have a clearer path to freedom to demonstrate their risk has reduced sufficiently to allow the Parole Board to direct their release.
Link to the youtube video of the court judgment
The issue in this case was the right of an ISP to pursue their own rehabilitation. The Court found that the Secretary of State must now provide the ISP with a reasonable opportunity to reduce their risk. Previously, the ISP was placed in a position whereby they had to prove their risk had reduced, but often found themselves in circumstances where, despite being motivated to do so, the opportunities were simply not available to do so. The best example of this is the non-provision of relevant courses designed to reduce an ISP’s risk. The Appellant’s successfully argued that rehabilitation was a core purpose of the indeterminate sentence and not just punishment.
The Court were clear to state that there will not be a breach of an ISP’s human rights in every case, and that the facts of each case will be highly relevant in determining whether a breach of the Secretary of State’s duty has occurred. ISPs will be able to pursue a mandatory order from the Court to help them progress, or access a particular course, as well as obtain a modest award in damages for any breach.
No longer will ISPs be allowed to languish in prisons where courses are not available, or where the availability and waiting lists for courses are too long. This Government scrapped the IPP sentence for a reason, and this judgment of the Court strongly emphasises the reason behind this.