In a three-month investigation, VICE News uses Freedom of Information laws, exclusive interviews, and prison reports to uncover the scandal of the 4,612 prisoners serving life sentences under abolished legislation — some for relatively minor crimes.
From 2005, judges in England and Wales started giving out a new kind of life sentence for offenses such as shoplifting, minor criminal damage, and affray (fighting in public).Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs) were found to breach the European Convention on Human Rights, and the government scrapped the sentence in 2012. But nobody did anything about the prisoners already inside.
Three-quarters of them have completed their mandatory minimum sentence, but still have no release date, at a cost to the taxpayer of $180 million a year. Sixteen inmates have killed themselves since the sentence's abolition.
Speaking to inmates, their families, lawyers, and a Parole Board veteran, VICE News exposes the UK's forgotten prisoners.