29/02/2008

'Police Release Me' For UK Inmates

The government has revealed that almost 19,000 inmates have been freed early as part of an initiative to tackle overcrowding in prisons.

The End of Custody Licence scheme - introduced last summer and which saw a further 2,386 prisoners released early during January - brought the total number of early release criminals in England and Wales to 18,583 since last June.

Of those freed under the scheme, 673 have been recalled for not complying with release conditions, while 124 have absconded and are still on the run.

Under the scheme, offenders can be released to serve the final 18 days of their sentence in the community in order to empty cells for newly convicted criminals.

The scheme applies to those convicted of lower-level offences and jailed for less than four years.

The move comes against a background of problems on prison capacity, with the Justice Secretary Jack Straw announcing plans last December to build three ‘super-prisons’ with capacity to hold around 2,500 offenders.

He hopes that by 2014, the jail building programme would increase the total number of prison places up to 96,000 from the current 81,000.

(DS)

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