The sister of a Sutton man who is set to be released after being trapped in prison for 11 years says he is “excited” to be released so he can “fight for others” in his situation.
James Ward was initially jailed for a year after assaulting his father but near the end of the sentence he set fire to his prison mattress and was handed an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) for arson.
Ward, who has a troubled background and mental health problems was told in 2006 he would serve a minimum of 10 months - he has been in prison ever since.
IPPs have since been abolished but James and thousands of other prisoners are still imprisoned under the system introduced by Labour in 2003.
Those jailed under the guidelines remain in jail unless they can prove they are no longer a threat to a parole board.
Many remain trapped in prison because they are unable to prove they are no longer a threat to the public.
April Ward, James’s sister, spoke to her brother this week and says he will fight for other IPP families once he’s released. “There are mixed emotions. He’s really excited to be getting out, but understandably mad that it’s taken so long for this to happen,” said April.
“We’ll be working as a family not only to give him the love and support he needs to get settled, but also to help him fight for others affected by IPP.
“In the times James has been in prison, we’ve heard some shocking stories.”
James does not yet have a release date, but April estimates he could be out in six to seven weeks.
“He’s gone from having no hope to looking forward to the future,” April added.