Release of life/long term detainee prisoners

Life or long term detainees can be granted parole, this means that before the end of their sentence – if they meet the requirements, they can be released to serve the rest of their sentence under conditions outside of the prison. Before this release they are subject to rigorous rehabilitation and management including:

  • Familiarisation and rehabilitation
  • Support and unsupported visits
  • Temporary overnight licences
  • Licence conditions upon release
  • Continued monitoring by probation services

In addition to the usual preparations, the Isle of Man Prison and Probation service undertakes a lengthy process of familiarisation and socialisation with most long term/life detainees who are due to be released from the Isle of Man Prison.

This process will allow for the assessment of a detainee’s social interactions and behaviour, awareness and education outside of the prison – as technologies and social attitudes, as well as towns and villages may have changed considerably.

This may include accompanied visits to local areas outside the prison environment, trips to shops and towns, and journeys further afield to Douglas.  These visits are initially supported by staff and then unsupported. At each step of this process staff will check in with the inmate to ensure they are responding appropriately, adapting and adjusting accordingly.

They will then be released on temporary licence overnight to the hostel at Tromode.  This allows the prisoners to be tested in the community and to also be supported back into society for things such as addressing housing needs, medical appointments and living outside of a prison institution.

Parole process

All prisoners serving a custodial sentence of more than 4 years can apply to the Department for referral to the Parole Committee. The Parole Committee are provided with a dossier of information covering the original offence, details of behaviour in prison and any work undertaken, and a probation report which will outline plans for managing them if they are released.

The Parole Committee will make a recommendation to the Department having taken into account the following principles:

  1. The risk to the public that early release would present

  2. The risk of further offending

  3. If early release would contribute to rehabilitation and reintegration into the community

  4. What conditions could be attached to a licence to assist with reintegration of the offender into the community and reduce risks identified upon early release

Licence conditions

When ‘Life’ prisoners are released from the custodial element of their sentence they will be subject to Licence Conditions for the rest of their life.  This means that for any serious breach of those conditions the Department has the power to return them to custody. They would then need to re-apply for Parole, before being eligible for release on licence again.

A long term detainee will remain on licence for the remainder of their sentence.  For convicted sexual or violent offenders, this will often include an 'Extended Supervision Licence Period' issued by the courts where they are supervised for up to 10 years past their custodial sentence, depending on the original offence.

Licence conditions allow restrictions to be placed on their freedom and may include where they live; non-contact with named individuals; exclusion zones for areas on the Island and there is a standard licence condition about conduct.  (Licence Conditions can be found at our Isle of Man Prison and Probation Service page) Each licence condition applied must be necessary and proportionate, but they allow the Probation Service to monitor and supervise anybody released on licence on an ongoing basis.

In addition to monitoring by Probation Service, all serious violent and sexual offenders are subject to Public Protection Arrangements, which is a multi-disciplinary team including police, probation, health, mental health and social services and forensic psychologists.

As part of the release process, the victims’ families will be informed by the Victim Liaison Officers.

'Once released, however, the vast majority of life sentence prisoners are successfully integrated back into the community, with only 2.2% of those sentenced to a mandatory life sentence and 4.8% of those serving other life sentences reoffending in any way, compared to 46.9% of the overall prison population.'

A Joint Inspection of Life sentence prisoners - by HMI Probation and HMI Prisons September 2013