Our prison law department is led by Dr Susan Twyman, an acknowledged leading prison law specialist. For more information, at first instance please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or ask to speak directly to Susan on 020 8563 9797.
“No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law” – Article 5 European Convention on Human Rights
In recent months media attention has put prisoners in the spotlight concerning overcrowding and early release arrangements. The combination of overcrowding in prisons, complicated changes in the rules on prison licence and various Home Office initiatives has placed considerable demands on the Prisons, Parole Board and Home Office.
If you or a member of your family have received a prison sentence which you think has not been administered properly, there are a number of areas in which our prison law team, led by Ben Lansbury, can help.
- Prison Disciplinary hearings – in some circumstances you can be represented by a lawyer. If you need help please contact our prison law department who can advise you.
- Release Dates – in recent times the law in this area has become very complicated and sometimes difficult to administer. As a result sometimes release dates are miscalculated. If you think this has happened we may well be able to give you advice and assistance. We have recently secured the immediate release of a number of prisoners some of whom are considering action against the Home Office.
- Home Office Licence – if you are released at the automatic release point of your sentence your license is administered by the Home Office. Sometimes licence conditions are not properly thought through and present difficulties to both the supervising authority and to the prisoner on release. We can try to have the conditions varied so they are more practical to adhere to and avoid the danger of an unintended breach.
- Parole Licence – if you are eligible for, and granted, parole before the automatic release point of your sentence your license is administered by the Parole Board. You are entitled to representation at any hearing concerning the grant of parole or an allegation that a parole condition has been breached.
- Recall – The decision to recall will be made by the Parole Board. Such a decision should be considered immediately in order to check the validity of the reasons behind the recall and establish that the calculation of a new release date is correct and lawful. Representations can be made on your behalf to try and secure your re-release which, if successful, should result in immediate release. The complexity of the statutory framework in place means that there exists a great risk of miscalculation of release dates. As such any recall left unchallenged could result in you serving a great deal of time in prison unlawfully.
The enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 has had the effect that the release of those serving determinate sentences is now governed by three different pieces legislation, namely the Criminal Justice Acts 1967, 1991 and 2003. This has resulted in a statutory framework which can be complicated and in which miscalculations can easily occur, particularly with regard to the issue of breach of license and recall to prison.
Criminal Justice Act 1967
This applies to prisoners who were sentenced prior to 1st October 1992.
If recommended by the Parole Board, release on parole license for those eligible occurs once one third of the sentence has been served.
Unconditional release occurs at the two thirds point.
These sentences are unaffected by the enactment of the CJA 1991.
Criminal Justice Act 1991
This applies to prisoners sentenced on or after 1st October 1992 and prior to 4th April 2005. The CJA 1991 continues to govern sentences of under 12 months.
4 release schemes exist under the CJA 1991
Automatic unconditional release
Prisoners serving less than 12 months are released automatically at the halfway point.
Automatic conditional release
Prisoners serving sentences of 12 months to less than 4 years are released on license automatically at the halfway point. This continues, subject to recall, to the license expiry date, namely the three quarter point.
Discretionary conditional release
Eligibility for release on parole license occurs, if recommended by the parole board, at the halfway point for those serving 4 years or more. Automatic release on license occurs at the two-thirds point with license expiry at the three quarter point.
If convicted of a further offence before the sentence expiry date, the offender can be returned to prison by the court sentencing for the new offence. This period must be equal to or less than the period between the commission of the new offence and the original sentence expiry point.
If the total sentence is less than 12 months release on a 3 month license is applicable rather than automatic release at the half way point.
Criminal Justice Act 2003
This applies to determinate sentence prisoners sentenced for offences committed on or after 4th April 2005.
Under the CJA 2003, for those sentenced to 12 months or more automatic release on license occurs at the halfway point with the license remaining in effect until the end of the sentence.
Indeterminate sentences essentially fall into 3 categories:
- Mandatory life sentence for murder
- Discretionary life sentences for other serious offences
- Sentence of imprisonment for public protection
Due to the obviously extremely serious nature of cases resulting in such sentences we would ask that you contact the prison law team directly so that the matter can be discussed in person.