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44 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2005)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj44 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard journal Vol 44 No 1. February 2005
ISSN 0265-552 7, pp. 1-11




Why the Failure of the Prison Service

and the Parole Board to Acknowledge

Wrongful Imprisonment is Untenable


                     MICHAEL NAUGHTON
 Lecturer School of Law and Department of Sociology, University of Bristol


 Abstract: This article analyses key documents that were produced in collaboration
 between the Prison Service and the Prison Reform Trust. It identifies an organisational
 inability on the part of the Prison Service and the Parole Board to acknowledge that the
 courts can return incorrect verdicts and that wrongful imprisonment can, and does occur
 It argues that this renders the ways in which the Prison Service and the Parole Board deal
 with life prisoners who maintain that they are innocent of the crimes for which they were
 convicted untenable. To demonstrate this, the article distinguishes two broad categories
 of wrongful imprisonment. It concludes that those charged with a duty of care for and
 the possible release of those given custodial sentences by the courts must, therefore, be
prepared to 'think the unthinkable' and make adequate provision for the innocent victims
of wrongful imprisonment that are sure to come their way.

Two  key sources of information given to life prisoners about the structure
of their sentences and the procedures through which they might  possibly
achieve release from prison are the Prisoners Information  Booklets Life
Sentenced Prisoners 'Lifers' (Prison Reform Trust and HM Prison Service
1998)  (to be referred to as Lifers in subsequent references in this article)
and Parole Information Booklet (Prison Reform Trust and HM Prison Service
2002). 'Possible release' because there is no certainty that a life prisoner will
be released if they do not satisfy the release procedures (Prison Reform
Trust and  HM   Prison Service 1998, p.2). The format of the booklets is
a deliberate 'user-friendly' attempt to inform prisoners through a 'fre-
quently asked  questions and  answers' guide  written from a  prisoners'
'voice' that is answered from the institutional 'voice' of the Prison Service
and  Parole Board.


                                'Lifers'

Perhaps, the two most important questions and answers contained in Lifers
to this discussion are as follows. Firstly, the prisoner asks:

What do I have to do to prepare for release? (Prison Reform Trust and HM Prison
Service 1998, p.8)

                                   1
0 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2005, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ UK
and 350 Main Street Malden MA 0214R USA

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