March will see the first major series of events in a year-long campaign against the hidden scandal of people serving indefinite sentences in UK jails under legislation that breaks human rights law and was formally repealed five years ago.
Nearly 4,000 people are serving IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) sentences in British prisons and Smash IPP is embarking on an info tour to raise awareness and pressure to end the practice. It is looking for local groups and individuals to help organise dates, mainly between March 13-19 (though the group will do its best to accommodate other dates if offered).
Parole board delays, prison overcrowding and sheer neglect are all leading to unprecedented rates of prisoner suicides. Smash IPP reports that, only last year, a prisoner whom they supported died in prison. The group said in a statement:
Many of us have friends and family who are locked up with indefinite sentences, and we are painfully aware of the effect that this uncertainty can have on the health of our loved ones and our families and communities.
We are prison abolitionists, and do not see the release of IPP prisoners as incongruent with our ultimate goal of the destruction of all prisons. We view it as a lifesaving measure, considering the rates of suicide and self harm among people serving IPP sentences are even higher than the rest of the prison population.
A mother with a son who’s an IPP describes it as a “death sentence.” One IPP wrote how “our families are doing the sentence just us much as us, is it right for them to never know if we will ever come home? Sometimes I feel that if I died it would be better for them because they could bury me and move on with their lives and not worry any more.”
Smash IPP added: “Enough is enough. This is life and death. We will not let any more people die because of prison bureaucracy and neglect. This year we call for a year of action to free all IPPs.”
Anyone who can host a meeting would just have to be able to help IPP find a local venue for a two-hour event, help with local publicity and put two people up overnight, preferably with vegan food. The group can help with graphic design for publicity and can bring its own equipment including projector, laptop and anti-prison materials.
Smash IPP already has plans for the summer, including a showing at the Dorset Radical Bookfair on June 7th where activists will be hosting a workshop with IPP families discussing the sentence and how it’s impacted them and their loved ones.
A London rally is also being organised for the same day, with a march and lobby of Parliament led by the families of people being affected by IPP. The event is backed by Prisoners Voice, IPP Prisoners Campaign – Free Shaun Lloyd and Smash IPP
To get involved contact Smash IPP via info(at)smashipp.noflag.org.uk