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Blog entry 31st March 2017

At last my solicitor has contacted me. It wasn't with any real news other than he's secured the funding for the further forensic testing. He's also acknowledged that my barrister has instructed that he begin to pursue the evidence which Kent Police hid proving my alibi. He has also booked to come and visit me on the 13th April. Hopefully I will have more news after then for my next blog.

Recently I submitted a written piece of my 'prison experience' to the Justice Committee at the House of Commons. This appears to have been well received by them as they intend to publish it as part of their investigation as to what is going wrong in British prisons. This review and prisoner's experiences articles, including my own, will eventually be available to read on the House of Commons Justice Committee website

With the abysmal state of British prisons having been headline news in recent months, I would encourage people to visit the Justice Committee penal reform review website and contribute in a constructive way.

Of course, one of the key issues in British prisons is overcrowding. Much of this is the result of licence recalls and re-offending. This specific factor is unsurprising when it is considered that a large number of prisoners are recalled to prison for petty infringements of licence conditions or "manufactured" infringements invented by probation officers who wish to lighten their caseload. The case of Pete is a perfect example.

Pete was originally released on licence after a conviction of rape and assault. A charge of which he maintained his innocence. He'd got himself a flat, was looking for work and was doing well. His friends girlfriend went to the police and tried to use 'Sarah's Law' to get more details about Pete's conviction. This was refused as she did not have a child and was not in a relationship with Pete. However, the police were then required to inform Pete's probation officer that the enquiry had been made. It was to the credit of the police in this instance that they made it clear to the probation officer that Pete was not in a relationship with the woman who'd made the 'Sarah's Law' enquiry.

Despite this, Pete's probation officer falsely claimed that he was in a relationship with the woman and had hidden it from them. This allowed Pete's probation officer to claim he had technically breached his licence conditions and have him recalled to prison to serve the remaining period of his licence. As a consequence Pete lost his flat and all his belongings.

Pete served over another year in prison due to his probation officers manipulation of the truth and facts. On the 16th of March he was released again. With no licence left to serve this meant that the probation service and justice system had no duty to him other than the clothes on his back and the little money in his pocket, Pete was sent out the prison gates with nothing. No release plan, no home to go to and no family whom he could turn to for help. This is a far from uncommon event for prisoners. Both men and women.

For a potentially highly dangerous prisoner to be released in this way does not safeguard public safety. Again, I reiterate that Pete maintained his innocence. In fact, the appeal court acknowledged that the safety of his conviction was doubtful but refused to rule such due to the precedence it would have established. As far as the penal and probation service were concerned though they were satisfied that public safety was best served by releasing a prisoner in to a life of homelessness and no real way of monitoring him, despite his conviction for a violent assault and rape, whether it happened as claimed or not.

When prisoners are released like this, is it no wonder so many end up re-offending causing prison numbers to soar, overcrowding to increase and the prison system to descend towards collapse?

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