Families and relatives of prisoners languishing in jail because of sentences with no fixed end date held a major protest outside Cardiff Prison.
The sentences, called IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) , have since been scrapped but those handed down by the courts are still in force.
People serving imprisonment for public protection terms are given no fixed release date when they are locked up.
The Ministry of Justice has admitted they were not working and had been used “far more widely than intended”
Yesterday about 30 people gathered outside HMP Cardiff to voice their anger at the sentences.
Dad-of-one and stepfather-of-two Shaun Lloyd, from Adamsdown, Cardiff , was handed an imprisonment for public protection sentence when he was convicted of a street robbery in 2006.
He was 17 years old and ended up serving eight years inside for a two-year, nine-month sentence.
Last year he was recalled on the same sentence after he told the probation service he was doing heroin.
He’d hoped to be sent to a clinic. Instead he found himself back in jail.
“It makes you feel desperate and hopeless,” said the 29-year-old, who is now out again.
“I was feeling suicidal and depressed because you think you’re never going anywhere.
“I cut all my family off half way through my sentence.”
His mum Shirley Debono tried to speak to Cardiff’s governor at the protest on Saturday.
“We’re crying out for these to be abolished but no one is listening,” she said.
Alisha Ali’s brother Aaron Madden was given a two year sentence in 2005 for “fighting in the street.”
Now in jail in Nottingham, he’s never seen his daughter.
“In his head he is never going to get out, because he should have been out 10 years ago,” mum-of-four Alisha said.
“It’s heartbreaking for my mum.”
Because he’s so far away the family have not been able to see him since he was jailed.
“He was 18 or 19 when he went in,” Alisha, from Butetown, said.
“You get murderers and paedophiles do a few years and they are out.”
Jessica Ross’s boyfriend Jason Thorne is locked up in Parc for making threats.
“He had a 17-month sentence in 2006,” the 36-year-old, from Adamsdown, Cardiff, said.
“It’s 2017 and he’s still inside.
“He’s trying to keep his spirits up, there is not a lot else he can do.
“You can’t let it beat you.”
Here’s what the Ministry of Justice said when it abolished IPP sentences:
Sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs) were created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and started to be used in April 2005.
They were designed to protect the public from serious offenders whose crimes did not merit a life sentence. Offenders sentenced to an IPP are set a minimum term (tariff) which they must spend in prison.
After they have completed their tariff they can apply to the Parole Board for release. The Parole Board will release an offender only if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public for the offender to be confined.
If offenders are given parole they will be on supervised licence for at least 10 years.
If offenders are refused parole they can only apply again after one year.
Why aren’t they working?
They were designed as a way to protect the public from serious offenders but have been used far more widely than intended, with some have been issued to offenders who have committed low level crimes with tariffs as short as two years.
They have been handed down at a rate of more than 800 a year and as a result more than 6,500 offenders are currently serving IPP sentences.
IPPs have proved difficult to understand and leave victims and their families uncertain about how and when an offender will be released.
IPPs lead to inconsistent sentencing. They have been given to some offenders, while others who have committed similar crimes have served fixed sentences.
What does this mean for prisoners currently serving IPPs?
The changes will not be retrospective.
Current IPP prisoners will continue to serve their sentences, and will only be released when the Parole Board assesses them as suitable.