Archive for the ‘ Prison Law ’ Category


At present the Parole Board has 240 members. None of the Parole Board’s members are black. 13 of the Parole Board’s members are from the BAME community, but still none of them are black. The B in BAME might as well just not be there.

To achieve an absolute absence of black members of the Parole Board is a considerable achievement. It is not an accident. It is not a mistake. It is not something that could have happened without anybody noticing. It is a diabolical demonstration of the worst forms of institutional racism in practice.

To have a process that fails to appoint, attract, or appeal to members of the black community is utterly unconscionable. Who knows where the fault lies, but there must be a strong argument to say that one of the people responsible is Nick Hardwick, the former head of the Parole Board who resigned with much sympathy and support after the overturning of the parole decision in the John Worboys case.

Whatever Nick Hardwick’s credentials in terms of reform, restructuring, improvements in through put and the like, there can be no doubting that as a fighter of institutional racism he was nothing more than an abject failure.

PRISON LAW PRICING

Written by admin
September 1st, 2018

As of February of this year some new areas of Prison Law work are again covered by legal aid.  Regrettably, there are still a great many problems that prisoners experience for which legal aid is simply not available.

Prisoners are a particularly vulnerable group.  The pressures that they feel are acute and can lead to depression, mental health problems and, in the worst cases, extra punishment.

Prisoners and their families are often keen to do everything they can to improve their own, or a loved one’s situation.  This means of course that they may be prepared to dig deep into cash reserves, or even borrow to pay for help from solicitors.

There can be no doubting that the number of solicitors exploit this vulnerability.  Some solicitors prey on the notion that good work must cost a lot and therefore clients will only think that a job has been done properly if they are paying through the nose for it.  Some solicitors will suggest they only have one or two clients in a particular prison and therefore will have to make special journeys to see people which will mean that they have to charge clients more.  Some solicitors will suggest that they have to charge a particularly inflated hourly rate to cover the overheads involved in Prison Law work.

At The Johnson Partnership we don’t believe in exploiting any sort of client.  Vulnerable clients, detained in custody for long periods of time, are not there to be exploited.  To ensure that clients and their families know exactly where they stand we aim, wherever possible, to offer a fixed rate for each particular area of Prison Law work.  This means that everybody knows where they stand from the start.  A client, or a client’s friend or family member, can make a hard-nosed decision as to whether or not they want to have a particular piece of work done.

In rare cases, where it is just impossible to know how much work will be involved in looking after a particular prisoner, we not only provide a hourly rate but also regular costs updates.  If the goalposts look as though they are going to move, we ask for our client’s permission, before proceeding to the next stage of the job, rather than just assuming they want to continue paying, paying, paying.

If you feel that you have been exploited, misled, or ripped off by someone claiming to look after either your interests or those of a loved one, try The Johnson Partnership’s transparent pricing system and let us know how well it has worked for you.

INCREASE IN THE SCOPE OF LEGAL AID “SURELY SOME MISTAKE”

Written by Sian Hall
February 10th, 2018

As of late February this year legal aid will again be available for prisoners facing certain types of adjudications and applications from which it had previously been withdrawn.

Life sentence prisoners and IPP prisoners facing pre-tariff review hearings will again be entitled to fully prepared representation at oral hearings. These are essential in assisting prisoners in working towards release and ensuring, for example, that they are moved to open conditions at the earliest opportunity. There is much to be considered, reports and other evidence to be obtained and representations not only to be put forward but argued most strenuously.

Legal aid will also be available to prisoners held in Category A conditions, who have the chance of re-categorisation. The extreme restriction on liberty involved in being a Cat A prisoner is now understood to be something that ought to be capable of challenge with the benefit of assistance in preparation and representation at any relevant hearings.

Finally, legal aid will also be available to those wishing to challenge detention in a closed supervision centre. These “prisons within prisons” are often used to house prisoners convicted of terrorist offences. The conditions within CSC’s and the general circumstances of the regime are thought now to be ones which should be capable of challenge with the benefit of a fully prepared representation.

The thought of any these categories of prisoners being dealt with without representation is startling abhorrent. It has to be good news that all of those, in these particular circumstances, can now be dealt with in a fair, just, and acceptable way. We are delighted to say that our Prison Law Department now has seven keen members, all are fully committed to embracing the challenges that the new legal aid regulations will inevitably bring.

Do not hesitate to contact us at any time on (0115) 941 9141 and ask either for Digby Johnson or the Prison Law Team.

NOTHING MEEK ABOUT THE NEW FORCE IN CHESTERFIELD

Written by Sian Hall
February 1st, 2018

On 15th January 2018, after almost ten years with the firm, Karl Meakin stepped out on his own account in the Magistrates’ Court.  An experienced prison lawyer, Karl is now strengthening the team of Chesterfield advocates comprised of Bob Sowter, Kirsty Sargent, and the inestimable John Wilford.

Karl will also be continuing to carrying on preparation and advocacy work for the Prison Law Team throughout the country.

The Chesterfield advocates are ably backed up by Richard Pell, Lucy Hooper, Yasmin James-Birch, and Lynda Gilbert.

With John’s added qualities as a regulatory specialist, the team has not only depth but considerable breadth.

Bob Sowter brings with him not only massive expertise in terms of adult and youth crime, but also a history of work carried out on behalf of the road haulage sector, which has ably equipped him to deal with a broader than average range of road traffic and vehicle related issues.

The remarkable Kirsty Sargent is the beating heart of the team, an excellent advocate and a superb organiser and administrator.

Karl could hardly be joining a finer group of lawyers who should ease him to greatness at an early stage.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PRISON DEATHS?

Written by Sian Hall
November 10th, 2017

On the day where Nottingham Prison announces that five inmates have died during the course of the last three months and when the governor of Liverpool jail has been removed forthwith, the question of prison conditions and particularly deaths in prison is a live one.

 

Recently, Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform, called for the Probation Service and CCRCs to be involved in reviews whenever a prisoner who has been known to either of the branches of the probation service prior to their admission to prison, takes their life.

 

Many advocates shrink from saying to the Court that they believe the client is in imminent danger if admitted to custody. Many regard it as bad fall and rather cheap; others believe it is wrong to be seen to be holding a gun to the head of the Court.

 

All of our advocates have been trained to bring sensitive and delicate information to the attention of the court in an appropriate and reasoned fashion. Everyone is taught how to bring mitigation together in a way that should, if at all possible, avoid a vulnerable client ever being sent into custody.

 

Where a Court takes a decision to remand or sentence to custody our advocates are trained to ensure that the right information is passed as quickly as possible to the relevant authorities within the prison to ensure that the prison staff can give timely and appropriate care. Sadly, all we can ever do is provide this information, there can be no say in what those in charge will do with it.  By keeping a record of those to whom we have spoken and the information that has been provided to them, we aim to be in a position to ensure that any reviewing body is able to have a real and proper understanding of what was known by whom at what time.

 

 

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE! ADVOCACY OF A DIFFERENT KIND

Written by Sian Hall
October 23rd, 2017

As our prisons reach bursting point, the pressure on the Courts and the Police to look for alternative but fair disposals for potential prisoners is huge.

 

Throughout the past twenty years a series of restorative justice schemes have been operated by local police forces up and down the country. The enthusiasm with which restorative justice has been embraced has very much depended on the personality of the individual driving the initiative in each area.

 

The poor take-up on conditional cautioning was a great national setback. The inability of the authorities to be able to confirm whether the requirements for a conditional caution had been fulfilled undermined the whole process.

 

Nevertheless, the pressure to avoid court is real and present. As a firm, The Johnson Partnership have been training and encouraging our Police Station Advisors to look for alternative disposals when the evidence against the client is strong.

 

For years it has been open to the Police to caution clients who are admitting to an offence but who have very little, if any, previous involvement in the system. Restorative justice offers a whole new vista of possibilities.  For years our Police Station Advisors have been able to suggest that cases could be resolved by compensation being paid or by a letter of apology being written however Police Officers are increasingly looking for new alternatives.  In recent weeks, ideas such as writing a letter of apology to all the patrons of a particular pub; spending two days collecting and stacking supermarket trolleys and paying for taxis to and from local shops whilst a mobility scooter was being fixed, have all been thought to be appropriate restorative justice disposals.

 

Appropriate, practical, inventive, and appealing ideas presented in a timely way to an overburdened Custody Sergeant can be ways of securing a swift and satisfactory resolution for a client, who might otherwise have wended their way through a tortuous court system.

 

 

PRISON LAW FOR ALL

Written by Sian Hall
October 20th, 2017

After months of consideration, The Johnson Partnership now have a freshly printed leaflet containing advice and guidance for newly incarcerated prisoners.

 

Any Johnson Partnership client who finds themselves remanded into custody on a new charge, or sentenced to a term of custody, will immediately be provided with the Prison Law Guide.

 

Lovingly crafted by Euan Edwards and Devon Broome, the new leaflet sets out to answer questions that would trouble many prisoners facing an adjudication, or a review of many sorts. Our objective is to ensure that all clients know who to ask and where to find them within the firm if they have any questions that require an answer, whether or not the particular issuecomes within the scope of the current legal aid regime.

 

Many congratulations to Euan and Devon for their hard work!

PRISON LAW PRACTICE TO BE PROUD OF

Written by Will Bolam
May 4th, 2017

In days when many firms rely on the services of freelance clerks we have made a conscious decision to keep our Prison Law work in-house.

Many firms now run their Prison Law Departments on the backs of freelance Prison Law advisors working mainly from home. Traditionally, the split is 70% of any fee to the clerk and 30% to the firm. Inevitably however, this can lead to difficulties.

Knowing when and where to ring your advisor, ensuring messages reach the right person at the right time, guaranteeing good secretarial and admin back-up and ensuring that quality checks carried out are on a regular basis are all areas of concern where clerks or solicitors are working independently.

By keeping all our work in-house we can guarantee a central point of contact, which will generally find prisoners speaking to the person who knows most about the case. We can guarantee that even long and complex documents are produced with speed and accuracy.

A cooperative working team means that people are always available to cover one another’s cases, without there being concerns about whether fees are going to have to be split and shared.

Perhaps most important of all, file reviews, to check the quality of work, can be carried out on a regular face to face basis. These file reviews are crucial, not only do they let the supervisor have a sense of the quality of the fee-earner’s work, they also give some insight into the depth of knowledge and understanding that any fee-earner has. If something is found to be not quite right, it is important that it is not just reviewed but it is actually chased up and rectified with speed.

It goes without saying that by having everybody in-house we can ensure these processes run smoothly, efficiently, and to the benefit of all.

Whilst sometimes we might have to use an agent for very long distance work, it continues to be our determination to provide a home-based, home-grown team to look after the needs of some of the most vulnerable.

DMJ

LINKED-IN IN LINCOLN

Written by Will Bolam
May 2nd, 2017

Well, it’s happened! The Lincoln office is finally open for business. Phone lines installed. Desks erected. Filing cabinets primed and ready for action.

It is hard to express just how exciting it is to start a new office from scratch. The last time that The Johnson Partnership opened an office that wasn’t linked to an existing practice was July 1st 1990 when we first opened as a firm.

Taking us back to those early days of counting up how many police station cases we have dealt with and court appearances we have attended by week. Horrible disappointments of case-less days and the wild excitement of having to bring in more people to cope with the sudden influx are almost too much to bear.

The unbridled enthusiasm of Vicki Clayton and her team is a joy to behold. There can be no group of legal professionals who are as desperately dedicated to providing a class client service as The Johnson Partnership Lincoln squad.

The desire to make something work both from scratch is undoubtedly one of the most powerful drivers in any service industry.

With help available from the Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Mansfield, and Nottingham offices the Lincoln team know there is a massive reservoir of help at hand as well as a big crowd waiting to cheer their success.

IN LINCOLN DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE!

Written by Will Bolam
January 9th, 2017

Our new Lincoln office can now be unveiled. After extensive research throughout the lovely Historic City, we are delighted to announce that our new office will be opening at Unit 3, Waterside South, Lincoln LN5 7DU.

Positioned within yards of the busy High Street, the office is beautifully positioned between Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on the High Street and Lincoln Crown Court and the Castle.

Staff will be well positioned to make rapid responsive journeys to Lincoln’s busy custody suite situated up at West Parade.

The office affords easy access for all members of the public as well private interviewing accommodation to ensure that instructions can be taken in a timely and discreet manner.

Live Chat