Andrew Sperling, Specialist Prison Lawyer, provides a snapshot of one day inside prison
I was at a London prison yesterday for a parole hearing. A little microcosm of what is going on in prisons at the moment:
- Client described prison as filthy (cockroaches all over his cell) and very violent – he had witnessed someone being stabbed in the exercise yard and someone else stabbed on a landing.
- He had been recalled over a year ago and the review of his recall has still not been completed.
- The re-release plan for him is sketchy because the support he needs in the community is very hard to come by. There is a serious shortage of suitable accommodation in the community. He has a learning disability – local authorities are not prepared to assess him in custody so it is not clear what support he will get in the community.
- The Parole Board has no power to direct local authorities or other service providers to do anything – so choice is:
- release and hope things come together;
- adjourn and hope something comes together by the time of the next hearing;
- refuse to release.
Why is Prison Reform not Working?
Multiply this scenario lots of times and you have a good insight into why prisons are so crowded and why meaningful prison reform is so elusive.
Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Prison Lawyers
Written by Andrew Sperling. Andrew is a specialist prison law solicitor who has recently joined Olliers. He specialises in public law, Parole Board advocacy and human rights. He was a founder member of the Association of Prison Lawyers (APL) which was established in 2008 and Chairman of APL between 2011 and 2013.