Prisoner who has served 11 years on 10-month sentence to be released
A prisoner who has served 11 years in jail after initially being sentenced to a minimum of less than one is to be released, the Parole Board has said.
James Ward, who was given a sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP) with a minimum of 10 months to be served for arson in 2006, will be released within weeks, according to his family.
They told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the Parole Board had agreed to his release once suitable accommodation and care support was found. They have previously said Ward, whose parole hearings had repeatedly been delayed, had been “left to rot”.
He was said to have lost a significant amount of weight in prison and to have self-harmed, meaning he would need care upon his release.
Ward’s sister, April Ward, told Today that his solicitor had told the family about the decision, but James might not yet know. “So, it’s very exciting.”
She said she felt overwhelmed by the news. “I cannot explain the relief of the decision. It’s overwhelming with all emotions; quite bittersweet this morning.”
April Ward said she was confident her brother would get the mental health care he needed upon his release. She said: “We, as a family, will make sure that James’s release is successful; [that] the self-harm he gets help with. It’s very bittersweet that it’s taken 10 years for a Parole Board to finally see what we’ve been shouting for over 10 years: that James is not a risk to the public.
“The decision of the Parole Board isn’t down to a course or any difference in James’ behaviour, it’s down to the fact that – finally – they’ve seen that James is not a risk to the public.”
A spokesman for the Parole Board said: “We can confirm that a threemember panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of James Ward following an oral hearing on 4 September 2017. The Parole Board is unable to comment on the specifics of individual cases.”.
Its chair has previously told the government to “get a grip” on the issue of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences and IPPs, which were given to prisoners judged to be a risk to the public and were abolished for sentences passed after December 2012.
Thousands of people in England and Wales remain in jail on them, with no release date.
Nick Hardwick, the chair of the Parole Board and a former chief inspector of prisons, has previously said: “The levels of suicide, assault, and self-harm [in prison] is unacceptably high. It’s the fault of political and policy decisions that should have been put right two years ago.”
James Ward was said to have lost a significant amount of weight in prison and to have self-harmed.