The family of a mentally ill Otley man who has been in prison for six years are demanding action – with the backing of their MP.
Jermaine Sheerin was sent to jail for stealing a car, after committing a catalogue of previous other minor offences, in 2007 but still has no idea when he will be released.
The 26-year-old, who has been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, is serving time at York under an indeterminate sentence for public protection – an open-ended sentence that only ends at the discretion of a Parole Board.
But Jermaine, who has been stabbed and attempted suicide during his time in prison, hasn’t felt well enough to complete all the tests necessary to secure a release date.
That has left him, in the words of MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West), stuck in “a cycle of despair”.
The indeterminate sentences were scrapped in 2011, but the Government failed to also call for a review of ongoing cases – something Jermaine’s family and Mr Mulholland, are both demanding.
Jermaine’s stepmum, Sue Sheerin, said: “He needs a release date so he can work towards that and have some hope.
“Because he has no idea when his sentence will end, it has affected him and it’s very hard for him to feel hopeful stuck in a class A prison, with murderers and rapists, when he should be getting help.
“I pleaded with them, when it looked like he was dying in hospital earlier this year, to end this sentence and just give him a release date so he’d have that in his head to look forward to.
“They gave him this sentence, supposedly to protect the public, but Jermaine’s never really hurt anyone, he just got caught up in a lot of petty crime in Otley and was a nuisance.
“They say if he does all these courses and things his sentence will be ended, but he isn’t able to due to his illness."
Mr Mulholland has raised Jermaine’s case with the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling in Parliament.
He said: “The Government was right to scrap indeterminate public prosecution sentences.
However, it is completely wrong that the change was not accompanied by a review of those already serving those sentences.
“Jermaine and his family have been suffering a cycle of despair since 2007, as due to mental health issues he is unable to complete the required tests to bring an end to the sentence, and remains in a cycle of prison and, sometimes, hospital.
“Leaving families like the Sheerins in limbo, by leaving Jermaine to continue to serve his sentence, is outrageous."”