In the coming weeks the Supreme Court will be reconsidering the state’s responsibility for making amends to those who have been wrongly convicted and suffered a miscarriage of justice.
Every year innocent people who were wrongly convicted of serious crimes are being released from prison only to face further hardship and trauma as they face uncertain futures. One well known example being that of Sam Hallam who was wrongly convicted of murder and jailed in 2005. He spent seven years in prison before being freed in 2012 after the Court of Appeal ruled that he should never have been convicted.
Since being released, Hallam has received no apology or acknowledgement of his innocence nor has he received any compensation for the seven years he spent in prison. This is not an isolated case; one victim of a miscarriage of justice was released with less than £50 to his name would have spent his first night of freedom sleeping rough had it not been for a group of journalists who paid for a B&B. Another, who had wrongly served 18 years in prison, was transported from the cells to the Royal Courts of Justice barefoot.
Currently, there is less available support for victims of a miscarriage of justice than there is for guilty prisoners. The only service specifically for those who have been wrongly convicted is a Citizens Advice unit: the Royal Courts of Justice’s miscarriage of justice support service.
Part of the reason for the limited support available lies with the coalition government’s decision to amend section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; restricting compensation to only those who could prove their innocence beyond reasonable doubt and seemingly disregarding British law’s basic principle of the accused being innocent until proven guilty.
Asking someone to prove their innocence beyond reasonable doubt was;
“…an affront to our system of law.” Said Lady Helena Kennedy.
In addition, the coalition government changed the scheme for compensation for the wrongly convicted, reducing payments from the bare minimum to a complete stop. In the last five years there have been only five successful applications for funding and in 2017 not a single penny was paid.
In the coming weeks the Supreme Court will examine whether or not the current scheme is incompatible with the presumption of innocence until proven guilty under the Human Rights Act.
Abigail Fogg, Director of Prison Law at Duncan Lewis Solicitors has considerable experience representing prisoners before the Parole Board and Independent Adjudications and has acted in complex cases involving prisoners with life and Imprisonment for Personal Protection sentences who are significantly over tariff often with mental health or personality disorders.
For expert advice on all prison law matters, call Abigail on 020 7275 2862, or email her on email@example.com.
Duncan Lewis Prison Law Solicitors
Duncan Lewis has been accredited in the Legal 500 2017 Edition for its specialist services in Civil Liberties & Human Rights matters. Our Prison Law solicitors have expertise in matters relating to pre-tariff reviews, category A reviews and decisions involving inmate placements in the Care and Separation Unit. As the leading firm for provision of Legal Aid, Duncan Lewis’ solicitors can advise you on private and publicly funded prison law matters, including appeals to convictions and sentencing, HDC applications and appeals, independent adjudication and parole reviews for IPP prisoners and lifers.
If you require legal advice on a prison law matter, call Duncan Lewis Solicitors on 0333 772 0409.