Prisoners (Control of Early Release) Bill
This Bill was passed by MSPs on 23 June. This legislation will end automatic early release on licence after two thirds of a sentence has been served for all categories of long term prisoners, who will now be released on licence six months before the end of their sentence.
During the passage of the Bill, we raised our concerns that the biggest change in custodial sentencing in 22 years was being introduced without a full period of consultation, such as the 14 month review undertaken by Lord Kincraig ahead of the introduction of the parole system, and that the Scottish Government substantially changed the terms of the Bill at stage 2, extending the provisions of the Bill to cover all long terms prisoners.
As introduced the Bill’s provisions extended to certain categories of prisoners only. It is our view that six months is an inadequate amount of time to successfully reintegrate an offender back into the community, and now the focus should be on ensuring sufficient resources are put in place to ensure that the risk of reoffending can be reduced, through both the increased provision of relevant offence-focused work in custody and a properly funded rehabilitation programme. This will also need to be followed by proper support for released prisoners during their reintegration into the community.
All the Society’s briefings on the Bill can be found on our website