Andrew Sperling posted the following thread on Twitter about a case SL5's Emma McClure acted in.
I wanted to share some details of a case my excellent colleague @Parole_Lawyer acted in. It illustrates quite how much effort and skill is often required to secure the release of an IPP prisoner. THREAD
Emma acted for an IPP prisoner who had found himself recalled for approaching 10 years following allegations which had been dropped. He maintained his innocence in relation to these allegations. Successive Parole Board Panels had continued to rely on these unproven allegations.
His frustration at being held back in this way had led to him losing hope in custody. He accrued numerous adjudications for non-violent rule breaking.
The IPP sentence has had a really negative impact upon his emotional wellbeing. The uncertainty around when and if he would ever be released meant he had real difficulty in trusting all professionals. He had refused assessments or any further interventions in custody.
Previous Panels had linked his emotional state at hearings to his risk of causing serious harm in the community and he had previously been knocked back for this reason.
As a result of this his initial position was to refuse to give evidence to the Parole Board. Legally, prisoners who have the right to remain silent at their hearings. However, Panels will almost always want to hear from the prisoner directly to make their own assessment of risk.
He maintained this for the majority of the hearing as the evidence was taken. However, with Emma’s encouragement and support, he was able to speak to the Board and provide really insightful evidence.
Emma asked for interventions and made submissions at various points to ensure that he could feel as comfortable as possible and to provide him with the best chance of having a fair hearing.
In submissions, Emma was able to argue powerfully that his emotional responses to the sentence and reluctance to engage should not be seen as evidence that he posed a risk of serious harm were he to be released into the community.
Thankfully the Panel accepted these arguments and the client’s release was directed. The Panel commented specifically on his ability to manage such a stressful situation.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an advocate like Emma. Keeping calm and carrying on is a near impossible task for many people in this kind of situation. IPP prisoners need hope, help and understanding.
Click link to view thread on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewsperling/status/1575025657045987328
Click link to view thread on Threadreader: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1575025657045987328.html