Injustice: Man Serves 12 Years in Jail Due to Indefinite Sentence


Thomas White, a man sentenced indefinitely for stealing a mobile phone, has developed severe mental health issues after spending 12 years in prison, according to his sister, Clara White. Thomas was given an imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence in 2012, which required him to complete rehabilitation before release. However, Clara claims that he has been unable to access any rehabilitation programs in the 16 prisons he has been in, calling it a “serious injustice scandal.”

IPP sentences were introduced in 2005 for serious crimes and repeat offenders, but have also been used for minor offenses. Current government data shows that out of 2,921 prisoners with IPP sentences, 1,269 have never been released and 1,652 were returned to prison for probation violations.

Clara argues that her brother, who stole a phone from two Christian missionaries while under the influence of alcohol, is not a dangerous offender. She notes that no weapon or violence was involved in the theft. Thomas, who had prior theft convictions, received his IPP sentence just four months before they were abolished.

Since his incarceration, Thomas has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. His symptoms, including auditory and visual hallucinations, are reportedly due to the uncertainty of his release. Clara is advocating for her brother’s immediate hospitalization and government intervention.

Sara Ramsden from the United Group for Reform of IPP argues that IPP sentences have caused significant harm to prisoners like Thomas. She points out the high rates of suicide and self-harm among these prisoners and criticizes the prison system’s inability to provide necessary support.

A representative from the Ministry of Justice stated that the number of unreleased IPP prisoners has decreased by 75% since IPP sentences were abolished in 2012. They also highlighted efforts to improve access to rehabilitation programs and mental health support.

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