Double-Knockback for Terry Smith
As any determinate or indeterminate prisoner will tell you, the prospect of facing a Parole Board in order to secure open conditions or release is a daunting task. Whether it is a telephone Parole Board Hearing during the restrictive Covid-19 pandemic or by video-link conference, either way, the spotlight is upon "you" where you are quizzed about all sorts of issues, including the basis of your hideous and longstanding miscarriage of justice to what you are now doing to sufficiently reduce your perceived core risk factors to satisfy the Parole Board that you are safe to be released back into the community.
On 12 May 2020, I attended my first 12-year, on-tariff Parole Board hearing where despite my solicitor jumping ship seven days before the hearing, by the grace of God --- and the help and assistance of a remarkable lawyer friend. I managed to obtain the eloquent services of a pro bona barrister David Martin Sperry (DMS), who was more used to the front row benches at the Old Bailey and the Criminal Court of Appeal than conducting a remote telephone Parole Board Hearing.
As with any barrister worth his salt, he quickly grasped and presented the facts, including positive details that Mr Smith had obtained a first-class BA Honours degree whilst being in prison. He persuasively argued it did not make sense to send Mr Smith to the Progression Regime at HMP Warren Hill as he had not failed at anything during his 12-year tenure in prison and therefore was ultimately worthy of progression to open conditions or release. I distinctly recall during his closing speech to the Parole Board where he declared: "If Mr Smith looked into a mirror 25 years ago, what would he see? He would have seen an armed robber. However, if Mr Smith looked into a mirror today, what would he see? He would see a first-class academic, as BA Honours degrees do not grow on trees. You have to work damn hard to obtain one!" The two-person Panel agreed with DMS by recommending that Mr Smith be transferred to open condition where he could enrol and complete his mature student Master's degree in "Film and TV Production" from there.
The Secretary of State (SofS) for Justice or its "delegated authority", the Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS), had other less palatable ideas, however, as they made me wait four-and-half months for the "stamp", whilst other potential progressive prisoners were flying through the process to their open conditions. It was one of the most unjust and unfair events I have ever had to experience in prison, and there have been many.
After being kept in cruel limbo for four-and-half months, I was given the now obligatory knockback where the SofS recommended that I be transferred to a Progression Regime at HMP Warren Hill. In the meantime, however, I decided to judicially review the "Parole Board Review" of the SofS on the basis that it was unfair, unreasonable and indeed irrational, as it relied upon a prison van escape that occurred --- and I kid you not --- on 20 November 1984, some 38 years ago. When the Generic Parole Policy Framework timeframe for the inclusion of such breaches of the prison rules was twoyears.
While waiting for the self-prepared and organized Judicial Review to come to fruition at the Administrative Court in the Strand, dismissed over one year later. I volunteered for the Progression Regime during the harsh Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and noted immediately that I was distinctly out of place. As the Progression Regime was for prisoners for one reason or another who had become stuck-in-the-mainstream-prison system.
Nevertheless, I dived headlong into the Enhanced Behaviour Monitoring Course and the increasingly obligatory HRC-20 HMPPS Psychological Assessment and even enrolled and completed an in-cell level 2 Aspects of Citizenship qualification.In addition, not one to sit around during the prolonged Covid-19 bang-up, in line with the Enabling Environment Standards, I even researched and composed my fifth book entitled: "Wrongly Convicted Lives Matter" strap-lined: "An Insider's Insight into Miscarriage of Justice and the Development and Erosion of Law in Britain" is based upon an inspirational idea I had acquired from Mark George QC. I am still awaiting the services of~publisher for the 104k word book as my publisher has retired any offers; please get in touch.
On 31 January 2022, now two years over the IPP tariff, I attended my second Parole Board Hearing with a full Panel, including a Senior Psychologist. All three witnesses, the HMPPS Senior Psychologist (HRC-20), Community Offender Manager and the Prison Offender Manager, were all supportive of open conditions. We were asking for release, but open conditions were on the table. Of equal importance, however, the Director of a Voluntary Sector Specialist Services company, who had been visiting me for over six months, had offered me a role at the company as a Development Manager and Bid Writer/Fund-Raiser.
This extra support layer was available on a release or under open conditions. Seven days after the Parole Board Hearing, the Panel denied immediate release but recommended "open conditions" yet again. It was all looking good, seeing as I had complied with the SofS wishes and "excelled" at the Progression Regime, until the SofS made my family and I wait a further six (6) months for the "stamp". Despite the Generic Parole Policy timeframe being 28-days to receive your reply for the "stamp", as the months passed, I resigned myself to further bad news.
On 5 August 2022, the dreaded "Brown Envelope" arrived and the glum look on the OMU Officer's face while hand-delivering the letter said it all. I said: "It is okay, Guv, just give me the letter and you can go!" It is incredible that at a time of personal crisis, such as this, I was thinking about the Priso~ Officer's awkward feelings and thoughts rather than my own. I read the "Outcome of Parole Board Review" (OPBR) decision letter, and to my amazement, it said, in line with the previous Parole Board Review (September 2020), that "the Parole Board had not provided a wholly persuasive case to be transferred to open conditions at this time."
More shockingly, it had recommended that I volunteer to enrol on a Progression Regime which gives prisoners the opportunity to build evidence, in an environment that requires them to take personal responsibility for their lives and their progress, to allow them to evidence to the Parole Board that their risk can be safely managed in the community." (OPBR, p.3, para 2).
However, there was one overriding problem with this advice, as I had already been in a Progression Regime for the last 21 months on the very advice of the SofS after the previous refusal to sanction and support a transfer to open conditions (Sept 2020). Without my knowledge, a Prison Governor had noted the massive error and emailed the PPCS raising the mistake. The PPCS replied, proclaiming that it was a "generic mistake", but there was no apology.
On 10 August 2022, some five days later, I was summoned to the OMU Dept and hand given another "Brown Envelope" with the adjunct that it was a "Revised SofS Letter". I opened and read the edict, similarly dated 5 August 2022, which had erased the request to go to a Progression Regime and now declared that I had shown '' continued compliance and engagement with the Progression Regime," and more substantively, I had "completed core risk reduction work".
The principal argument is that if this compelling information had been taken into account at the time of the original "Parole Board review;...r" decision-making process in early August 2022 --- just like it had been by the Parole Board in January 2022 --- it would have quickly cleared the bar for open conditions. Of course, I spoke to my prison lawyer, who stated that he wants to Appeal or Judicial Review the latest adverse decision from the SofS. I hope and pray that the lawyer keeps to his word and JR's the decision because one thing is luminously clear. The salient reasons for the open conditions knockback by the SofS for a second time are massively at variance with the actual reasons being put forward and point ineluctably towards a profoundly unjust and unfair executive decision with political undertones.
Moreover, any primary GCSE student studying Law would be able to comprehend clearly. The decision-making process adopted and employed in the Parole Board Review by the SofS is fundamentally flawed. Since when can the administration executive take into account favourable issues of the prisoner after the final decision has been given and still reach the same negative outcome? Taken altogether, the independent Parole Board have recommended twice that I progress to open conditions, and twice, the SofS has blocked progress in favour of closed conditions. Consequently, during this Kafkaesque ordeal, I have faced a sevenfold whammy of human injustice and unfairness.
Firstly, being wrongly convicted upon manufactured and omitted evidence at Chelmsford Crown Court after a retrial where the first jury could not agree on a verdict. Secondly, being sentenced to an inhumane, arbitrary, unlawful and now abolished IPP prison sentence, which paradoxically is still live and active. Thirdly, post-wrongful conviction, formal complaints were tendered against rogue detectives and senior Loomis managers, where I discovered through FOIA and SAR provisions that they went on to resign and retire en bloc immediately. Fourthly, where I was unceremoniously booted out of the police complaints process, and the rogue detectives and senior Loomis managers went on to retire and seek further employment in other police forces. Fifthly, where I was blacklisted by specific members of the legal profession who became part of the massive cover-up process. Sixthly, after having an Application to the miscarriage of justice watchdog, the CCRC they have point blank refused to investigate the police/Loomis retirements and resignations. Moreover, seventhly, I am now being denied progression by the SofS as an over-tariff IPP prisoner who has sufficiently completed the requisite core risk reduction work to facilitate open conditions.
Small wonder seventy-two (72) IPP prisoners have sadly taken their own lives whilst serving the profoundly disgraceful IPP prison sentence from 2005 to 2022.
Any support is appreciated.
Terence G.M Smith
HMP Warren Hill
30th August 2022