Licence and Parole Issues

Many convicted prisoners must apply to the Parole Board for early release. The provisions differ for the various sentences. We are experienced at dealing with all those provisions and can assist with all types of parole case.

Life Cases
There are several types of life sentence; Mandatory Life, Discretionary Life, Detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, Custody for Life, Detention for Life & Automatic Life (this type of sentence has now been removed from statute). The Courts also now have at their disposal an IPP sentence. Imprisonment for Public Protection is a relatively new sentence available to the courts, having been introduced under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

There are two important steps towards release for lifers:
• The paper-based review and
• The oral hearing.

Virtually all lifers now have a ‘paper-based’ review prior to the tariff expiry date. This review will usually take place three years before the tariff expires. The Parole Board will consider whether the lifer is suitable for a move to open conditions. There will be no formal hearing.

A dossier of reports is prepared for the review by the Prison and Probation Services. It is disclosed to the prisoner (and / or the legal representative) and submissions in support can be made. The prisoner should contact us immediately if subject to this process.

All lifers are now broadly entitled to a hearing that is aimed at determining whether they are suitable for release. The Parole Board will consider this application at an oral hearing. The hearings are conducted in the holding prison and the prisoner is fully entitled to legal assistance and representation. Should the Parole Board order release the decision will be binding on the Secretary of State and the prisoner will be released. Should the Parole Board refuse to release the prisoner a further review will take place at a date set by the Secretary of State. This should, under normal circumstances, be no more than 2 years. Again the prisoner does have the possibility of challenging such a decision. We should be consulted about that possibility immediately.

Any prisoner who is alleged to have breached a prison rule can be made subject to disciplinary proceedings. As there have been changes to the Legal Aid System unfortunately we can only assist with hearings before the District Judge or the Independent Adjudication. If a family member or friend has a hearing before the Governor, they should request that it be adjourned so they can seek legal advice. This however is at the Governors discretion and not an automatic right or entitlement. If granted give us a call and we’ll be happy to attend.