West Midlands Against Injustice (WMAI)

A mutual support group for relatives and supporters of people convicted for a crime of which they are innocent, and whose case happened in the West Midlands area. It is open to all relatives, friends and supporters of those who have been wrongly convicted


                                Wrongfully Imprisoned - Campaigns Currently Supported by WMAI
Victor Nealon Norman Grant Hyrone Hart Warren Slaney Mohammed Arif Justice 4 Jass
Garry Crtichly Jaslyn Smith Lee Mockble Ricardo Morrison Emma Bates Martin Foran
Falsely Accused About WMAI Campaign Guide Sentences/tariffs Resources Joint Enterprise

Justice for Jaslyn Smith

 Indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPPs) - a chronic failure

Since Jaslyn is an 'IPP' he has no current release date or programme for such. The current amount of time which he has served far exceeds the recommended tariff which he was given upon sentence, as well as far exceeding the average term upon conviction for such an offence. The parole board have done nothing to assist jaslyn with his rehabilitation and constantly change the goal posts as to their requirements, as well as including fictitous unsubstantiated statements in his reviews for the purpose of painting Jaslyn in a very bad light. Thus, Jaslyn has been left to sit in a cell year after year currently in his 13th year.

The Minister for Justice Ken Clarke is more than aware of this situation regarding IPPs, for recently he said about IPPs:

  • "They're only released when they can demonstrate to the Parole Board that they are a minimal risk to society, which is the present test, but in a prison cell they will find it almost impossible to satisfy that test. We need long, determinate sentences for serious criminals. That is the way the criminal justice system works,"


Therefore the government clearly must be content with this system of setting people up to fail, as by Mr Clarke's statement, since the IPP status still continues even though Mr Clarke has also commented that reform to the IPP system would save 600 places and ?10 million of tax payers money.

 

As there is highly unlikely to be any progress towards release from prison for Jaslyn in his present prison. He and his family feel the only recourse is to Petition the Minister of Justice. Jaslyn has given permission for his last letter from the Parole Board to be put in the public domain as it is self explanatory as to why he feels he cannot progress. The full letter can be accessed here . . . .
Parole board - Decision of the panel - HMP Frankland 27th November 2009

Download: Petition on behalf of Jaslyn Ricardo Smith to Kenneth Clarke Secretary of State for Justice

'If you don't convict at first, trial, trial again'


The crime does not fit the time served and continuing to be served

Jaslyn was convicted following a second trial, the jury from the first trial failed to reach a verdict, at Wolverhampton Crown Court in April 1999.

He was convicted of raping his girlfriend, and further to him having a previous spent conviction, he was given an Automatic Life Sentence with a minimum tariff of 3_ years, as by the 'two strikes rule' which has now been repealed.

Jaslyn's case was taken to a retrial on the charge of rape with a new jury, he was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend causing her actual bodily harm, rape and having ammunition without a certificate.

It is asserted that the evidence against Jaslyn is unsafe, although all attempts to the CCRC have so far been unsuccessful due to a failure of his legal team to prepare his case. One example which has not been explored is that no mention of rape was reported when his girlfriend was taken to hospital for the assault for which Jaslyn subsequently pleaded guilty to.  His girlfriend was told by the hospital to take pain killers and return home to rest, few hours later his girlfriend was taken to the police station where she was examined by a doctor for rape.  The evidence showed that intercourse had taken place, which Jaslyn admitted intercourse had taken place and maintains to this day that it was consensual. His girlfriend was never cross examined on this.

Facts:

  • -  His girlfriend was taken to the hospital accompanied by the police, why did she not report that she had been raped? Jaslyn's legal team at the time, failed to cross examine her on this.
  • -  Why did she report the rape afterwards and then she was examined by a doctor at the police station?
  • -  Previous allegations by his girlfriend were subsequently dropped.
  • -  Kidnapping charges were dropped due to witness statement given by a taxi driver, therefore his girlfriend was not held against her will at no time as she claimed, and shown to not be a witness of the truth, however the jury still believed her evidence resulting in the conviction. Jaslyn's legal team at the time failed to cross examine her on this point.
  • -  No medical evidence of rape was produced during the trial, so why was Jaslyn convicted of rape?

Failures:

  • -  Unlawful detention, Jaslyn now going into his 13th year of a sentence with no release date given and no rehabilitation plan in place. A contravention of Article 5(4) of The Human Rights Act.
  • -  Jaslyn is in a prison located hundreds of miles away from his family and friends.
  • -  Jaslyn is not given the opportunity to do courses to prove that he is not a risk to the public, or any risk to women, as the prison service have not provided access for him to do any courses within his minimum tariff of 3 _ years.
  • -  Jaslyn was put in solitary confinement whilst at Hmp Franklands with a recent move to the medical / suicide unit with no explanation or reasons given to Jaslyn or his family for either of these moves. During this time in '23 hour lock up' Jaslyn was shown a ligature and told by staff they could hang him and make it look like suicide. Further to his family writing to the Governor expressing their concerns about this, he was transferred to the suicide unit.

Trial Failures:

  • -  Disclosure of the evidence - late disclosure of the telephone records, hammer etc.
  • -  Non disclosure of evidence which could have been argued to assist Jaslyn's defence e.g. DNA swab results, forensic results from the sierra, pocket notebook entries.
  • -  Doctors at hospital/police station not called to give evidence, or statements read out to the jury.
  • -  Impossible to obtain a transcript of the trial proceedings since they have been destroyed due to the lapse of 5 years post conviction. An appeal attempt was active at this time but the court transcripts were destroyed regardless, making any subsequent appeal attempt due to the obtaining of new evidence or criticism of the fairness of the trial proceedings impossible. Thus any attempt to show a breach of Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) of the Human Rights Act is impossible due to the destruction of this valuable piece of evidence.


Jaslyn has served his tariff 3 times over with no date of release been given and still remains in a top security prison, 'the crime does not fit the time'

'The system has tried to break me mentally and physically, because I have maintained my innocence (which I will do to the end of my days) the system will not allow me to have a life outside these walls'

Jaslyn is looking for a legal team that will help to see justice done, help with his appeal his full story can be seen on www.mojuk.org.uk

Letters of support/solidarity
justiceforjaslyn@gmail.com

Jaslyn Ricaldo Smith
A4250AE
HMP Full Sutton
York
North Yorkshire
YO41 1PS

PSO 4700 Indeterminate Sentence Manual (Formerly Lifer Manual)

On 10th July 2009 this Manual was amended and renamed. For me the hardest part of my life sentence was its indeterminate nature, not knowing how long I would serve. So this definition may improve things. “Unlike a prisoner with a determinate sentence who must be released at the end of their sentence, those sentenced to life imprisonment or Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP), collectively called indeterminate sentenced prisoner(s) (ISP), have no automatic right to be released. Instead, such prisoners must serve a minimum period of imprisonment to meet the needs of retribution and deterrence. This punitive period is announced by the trial judge in open court and is known commonly as the “tariff” period”.

“No indeterminate sentence prisoner can expect to be released before they have served the tariff period in full. However, release on expiry of the tariff period is not automatic. Release will only take place once this period has been served and the Parole Board is satisfied the risk of harm the prisoner poses to the life and limb of the public is no more than minimal. This means indeterminate sentence prisoners could remain in prison for many more years on preventative grounds after they have served the punitive period of imprisonment set by the trial judge. A release direction can only be made if the Parole Board is satisfied the risk of harm the offender poses to the public is acceptable. The release of indeterminate sentence prisoners is entirely a matter for the Parole Board and their decision is binding upon the Secretary for State”.

First the trial for the amount of punishment to be served, and then a second trial to see if one is fit to be released upon completion of that punishment period. In the absence of a better system we are stuck with what we have got and have to make the best of it. I am not convinced that we need three types of life sentence in both the mandatory and discretionary categories. “Imprisonment for Life” is for those who were 21 or over at the time of the offence, and “Custody for Life” is for those aged over 18 but under 21, and “Detention during Her Majesty's Pleasure” or “Detention for Life” for those aged 10 or over but under 18. Do we really need a separate category simply for those falling within a three year age gap between 18 and 21? And do we still need such a silly name as ‘Her Majesty's Pleasure’ for a life sentence or indeterminate sentence?

Once again, we have two separate names for Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) and Detention for Public Protection (DPP) denoting those over 18 and those under 18 respectively. These have simply replaced the Automatic Life Sentence. It might be remembered that judges were imposing an automatic life sentence whilst only giving a 2 year tariff. And the Parole Board was unable to cope with all the extra paperwork and prisons were not able to cope with fast-tracking prisoners through offending behaviour courses before the expiry of the minimum tariff.

But it is not just age which produces differences. There is also the thorny subject of women prisoners receiving more favourable conditions than male prisoners. “Apart from those who are category A or Restricted Status prisoners, women are classified as being suitable for either closed or open conditions. Therefore prisons for women are classified as closed or open. The female estate will continue to call their categorisation system for ISPs ‘stages’”.

Male lifers have to go through more stages to reach open conditions or release than their female counterparts. I recall being in my second stage and still being in a Category B Prison. I don’t see why only male lifers should have to suffer the conditions in Category C prisons. “It can be difficult for lifers, particularly those who have been in prison for many years, to adapt to Category C conditions”. Rather than be a progressive move from a Category B prison, it can actually be a retrograde step. I stagnated in Stocken for 2 years before being subjected to an unlawful backward transfer to a Category B prison. Reports had recommended I fast-forward to open conditions, but the Parole Board in its wisdom went for the slow route via Category C prison. That ‘playing safe’ cost me an extra 10 years! Ben Gunn also appears to be stuck in a Category C prison when he should have been in open conditions a long time ago. If women lifers do not have to go through a Category C prison, I fail to see why male lifers should have to put up with it. Recently I read about a woman who received a life sentence and within 2 years she went out on an escorted shopping trip and absconded. I had to wait 20 years before I could go out shopping!

Until 16th May 2005, there were only 6 standard life licence conditions for release. Then came this seventh condition: “He/she shall be well behaved and not do anything which could undermine the purposes of supervision on licence which are to protect the public, by ensuring that their safety would not be placed at risk, and to secure his/her successful reintegration into the community”. Given the vague and catch-all nature of this condition, is it any wonder that so many released lifers and determinate sentenced prisoners are being recalled to prison for breach of their licence conditions? If I was being cynical, I would say that the same standard of lack of care which characterises the life sentence in custody equally applies upon release on licence. The sooner the system is sorted out and the life licence abolished the better.                           This briefing by John Hirst: