A mum is terrified her son who was locked up seven years ago for stealing a phone will kill himself in prison.
Kiya Smith was jailed indefinitely as a teenager in 2011 for robbery.
But the 24-year-old dad still has no release date in sight, reports Wales Online.
When he was locked up Kiya, from Cardiff, was not given a specific period of time to spend behind bars.
Instead he was handed a sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP), which means offenders are kept in jail beyond their tariffs until they can demonstrate to the Parole Board that they are no longer a threat.
The sentences were introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and were meant to protect the public from offenders whose crimes did not merit an ordinary life sentence but were considered too dangerous for release at the end of their original term.
But when IPP sentences were abolished by the UK Government in 2012 they were not scrapped retrospectively for 4,500 prisoners who had already been sentenced to them.
In the first eight months of 2018, according to Ministry of Justice figures, 548 prisoners serving IPP sentences were freed from jail.
Since his imprisonment Kiya has missed out on seeing his eight-year-old daughter Latatya grow up, missed the birth of his young sister, and has seen his young adulthood pass by.
His mother Donna Wall, 44, says living life without a light at the end of the tunnel has affected her son’s mental health and has caused him to be placed in isolation and to self-harm.
Now she is campaigning for IPPs to be removed retrospectively in order to give her son some hope that he will be released.
She said: "I am horrified I will get a knock on the door and or a phone call saying he’s hung himself. I worry about him all the time and I can’t sleep properly.
“I can’t speak to him on the phone at Christmas because it’s too upsetting so I put him on to his brothers and sisters so he can ask them what they’ve had for Christmas.
“His mental health is suffering, he’s self-harming. I went to see him [recently] and I saw the marks on his arms. He was in Long Lartin [prison] and he was in segregation for eight months.
"He volunteered for this PIPE (psychologically informed planned environments) course to be told there’s a three-year waiting list.
"He’s now in Swaleside in the Isle of Sheppey where he’s in isolation – they have got to house him back on the wing.
"It depends when I can get a lift when I can go and see him. He asks me when am I coming next and all I can say is I don’t know."
Over the last year Kiya has not been able to get an appointment with the Parole Board after his parole hearing was cancelled twice.
Donna said: “They said it would be in April and then that was cancelled and they said it would be in September and then we haven’t heard since.
“When I saw him last he was all right but when he phones me you can hear in his voice he’s really down while on the visit he may have put up a front. He says he’s okay but he knows deep down he’s not.
“Lataya came up [recently] – it was the first time she could hug her father in ages. She asks when is her dad coming home and I can’t answer her. We don’t even know when his next parole [hearing] is.”
Donna is being helped by Shirley Debono whose son Shaun Lloyd served three times more inside than his minimum tariff of two years and nine months after being convicted of robbery in 2006.
She is leading the campaign to get IPP sentences scrapped retrospectively and will be meeting with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and her MP Jo Stevens in January to hand in a petition of 45,000 signatures.
Shirley said: “Prisoners are doing everything asked of them, they’re going to parole and they recommend them to do the PIPE course to make sure their mental health is okay.
“A lot of them are getting diagnosed with split personality disorder and they’re using these diagnosis to justify why they’re keeping these people in prison.
“[Prisons] are overrun with drugs and mobile phones, violence, contraband, weapons, and a lot of these vulnerable IPP prisoners feel safer in isolation.
“They’re languishing on parole while people imprisoned for the same offence are getting out.
“It becomes normal for children when they’re very young to have a relationship with their father in a visiting hall. By the time [Kiya] gets this course his daughter is going to be in high school and she’s going to be in college by the time he gets out.”
When asked what she would do if her son was released Donna said she would take him for a meal so they could catch up on all the things they’ve missed out on.
She added: “It would be a weight off my shoulders if he was released and came home and I would probably start crying. I cry all the time if people mention him to me. I can’t imagine him being home, I can’t visualise it.
“It would mean the world to me if he got out. I would be over the moon.
“I know what he did was wrong but he’s done his time and over.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Prisoners serving an IPP sentence committed a serious sexual or violent offence and pose a high risk of serious harm to the public.
“Those who have served their minimum tariff have the opportunity to apply to the independent Parole Board and demonstrate that they are no longer a threat to society – last year alone 600 IPP prisoners were released after doing just that.”
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