A complete loss of hope

Richard Garside
Friday, 26 November 2021

"My brother's experience of the IPP sentence was one of shock, frustration, loss of control over his entire life and his progression but ultimately a complete loss of hope".

The words of Donna Mooney, whose brother Tommy took his own life in 2015, having served six years of what was meant to be a four-year "Imprisonment for Public Protection" (IPP) sentence.

It is doubtful that the IPP sentence offers anything further, in terms of public protection, than prison sentences with a clear end-date. But it excels in causing pain and distress to those imprisoned under its unforgiving terms, their families and friends.

Over 1,700 IPP prisoners have never been released, despite the sentence being abolished nearly a decade ago. More than 95 per cent of those unreleased IPP prisoners have served sentences longer than the original 'tariff' set by the court. The mental anguish it causes is enormous. For some IPP prisoners it proves unbearable.

Donna Mooney, and her fellow campaigner against the IPP sentence, Shirley Debono, will be joining me in February to talk about their work pressing for wholesale reform.

This week, the House of Commons Justice Committee held its first evidence session as part of its inquiry into the IPP sentence, at which both Donna and Shirley spoke.

Next week, in our latest 'Last month in criminal justice' programme, I will be reviewing the Justice Committee session with guest panellists Charlie Weinberg from Safe Ground, Pavan Dhaliwal from Revolving Doors Agency, and former prison officer and prison governor Ian Acheson.

Other developments we will be discussing include the imprisonment of nine Insulate Britain protestors for blocking roads, the Liverpool women's hospital bomb blast, and what the panellists would like to see in the much-anticipated Prisons Bill.

Join me, Charlie, Pavan and Ian for a stimulating discussion of criminal justice developments over the past month.