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Holyrood bill makes new attempt to limit automatic early release

15 August 2014

The most serious offenders in Scotland's prisoners would no longer be entitled to automatic early release on completing two thirds of their sentence, under a bill just introduced to the Scottish Government.

Under the new Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill, a four-section Government measure,  prisoners sentenced to four years or more for sex offences, and 10 years or more for other crimes, will not be released without their case being considered by the Parole Board for Scotland.

At present, any prisoner serving four years or more is entitled to be released at the two-thirds point of sentence if they have not already been given parole.

The bill also allows prisoner release dates to be brought forward by one or two days to ensure immediate access to support services in communities, to help break the cycle of offending behaviour.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Under the proposals in the Bill, where long-term prisoners pose an unacceptable risk to public safety, they will serve their entire sentence in custody. This is an important move in the right direction to end the system we inherited.

“Meanwhile new prisoner release arrangements will allow more targeted access to health, housing and other services to help prisoners integrate back into the community and reduce the risk of re-offending. Agencies have confirmed that this can be a problem for people, leaving custody near the weekend when there can be limited access to services."

Click here to access the bill and related papers.

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