Prisoner ‘trapped’ in jail for 11 years to be released


James Ward in his prison cell
Image caption James Ward was sentenced under Imprisonment for Public Protection after setting fire to a mattress in jail

A man who has served 11 years in prison for what was a 10-month sentence is to be released, the Parole Board has said.

James Ward was sentenced under Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP), after he set fire to his bed while in jail for actual bodily harm.

The 32-year-old has mental health problems and has regularly self-harmed while serving his indefinite sentence.

The Parole Board said it was working to find Mr Ward a hostel and mental health support in the coming weeks.

Mr Ward’s sister April said: “We are over the moon, my dad can’t stop grinning.

“My dad hasn’t grinned for years. I can’t stop crying or smiling.

“James is not a risk to the public, he’s only ever been a risk to himself, and with the right support we can get him there.”

Mr Ward was serving a sentence in 2006 after getting into a fight with his father Bill.

But unable to cope with prison life, he set fire to the mattress in his cell, leading a judge to give him an IPP, which has no release date.

Image caption James’ parents Christine and Bill Ward and his sister April have campaigned for his release

Mr Ward, who has a low IQ, has regularly self-harmed while behind bars.

He has also set light to his cell, barricaded himself in and has staged dirty protests.

He wrote to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in 2016, and said: “Prison is not fit to accommodate people like me with mental health problems. It’s made me worse. How can I change in a place like this? I wake up every morning scared of what the day may hold.”

The Parole Board has confirmed his release, but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has not commented on the case.

Ms Ward added: “I hope that IPP prisoners who are way over tariff can now also be released. I don’t like to think about what would have happened if they’d decided against letting [James] out. He had given up.”

The sentence was abolished in 2012, but more than 3,000 people in England and Wales are still serving IPPs.

Previously an MoJ spokesperson said: “We are determined to address the challenge of making sure all IPP prisoners have the support they need to show they are no longer a threat to public safety.

View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41262920

“This work is continuing to achieve results, with 576 IPP releases in 2016; the highest number of annual releases since the sentence became available in 2005.”

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