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Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection: A Thematic Review

NCJ Number
Monica Lloyd; Sean Sullivan; Fay Deadman; Laura Nettleingham; Liz Calderbank; Jude Holland
Date Published
September 2008
56 pages
This report examines the effects of the two new indeterminate sentences authorized under the United Kingdom's Criminal Justice Act 2003: the sentence of indeterminate detention for public protection (IPP) for adults and a parallel sentence of detention for public protection (DPP) for children and youth under 18 years old.
One consequence of these provisions was an explosion in the number of persons receiving the new IPP sentence, reaching nearly 2,000 by the end of 2006 (the law became effective in April 2005). This large number of new and resource-intensive prisoners was fed into a system that was already under strain. The responsibility for placing and tracking such prisoners fell on area managers, leaving prison governors to arrange necessary moves to appropriate places. The Probation Service, which was charged with assessing and eventually supervising such prisoners, was poorly prepared, trained, and resourced for this role. The parole system, which determined IPP prisoners' release, was severely under-resourced. These effects converged to cause IPP prisoners to languish in local prisons for months and years, unable to access the interventions they would need before the expiration of their often short "tariffs" (the minimum period of imprisonment required for punishment and deterrence). By December 2007, it was estimated that 13 percent of IPP prisoners were over tariff. The situation of youth sentenced to DPP sentences was different from IPP prisoners, but equally as troubling. Although only 51 children and youth were serving DPP sentences by the end of 2007, they added significantly to the growing number and proportion of youth with long, indeterminate sentences. Most were persistent offenders, often violent, with complex psychological needs and vulnerabilities. The Youth Justice Board, prisons, and youth offending teams were inadequately prepared to serve this population. Case studies, 10 figures, and appended methodology and probation standards and criteria for inspection of IPP and DPP cases