Longer prison time for serious violent and sexual offenders

Today (Jan 22) legislation was brought before Parliament to end the automatic half-way release for offenders sentenced for crimes such as rape, manslaughter and GBH.

Two separate Statutory Instruments are being debated, the Release of Prisoners Order 2019 and the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 Regulations Order 2019.

Instead they will be made to spend two-thirds of their sentence in prison, before being subject to strict licence conditions upon release.

The changes come on the back of yesterday’s declaration of harsher sentences for the most serious terrorist offenders, and will apply to anyone handed a standard determinate sentence of seven years or more, where the maximum penalty is life. The most dangerous offenders already face life sentences and may never be released.

If approved by both Houses the changes will come into effect on April 1st 2020 and will apply to applicable sentences imposed on or after that date.

There is a variety of sentences available for violent and sexual offenders. These include a life sentence where an offender spends a minimum period in prison before being considered for release by the Parole Board. The offender may never be released but if they are, they will spend the rest of their life on licence and can be recalled to custody.

Extended Determinate Sentence is when an offender becomes eligible to be considered for release by the Parole Board from the two-thirds point but can serve the full term in prison if not assessed to be safe to release earlier. The custodial term is followed by an extended period on licence for on-going public protection.

Standard Determinate Sentence is another type when the offender will be routinely released at the half way point in this sentence and be on licence in the community for the second half of the sentence. Those serving short sentences will have supplementary supervision in the community for a minimum period of 12 months.

Justice secretary and Lord Chancellor, Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP said: “Time and again victims tell me they feel let down by a system that can see violent and sexual offenders back on the streets after serving just half their sentence.

“So, we will end the automatic half-way release for these offenders – ensuring punishment truly fits the crime and restore the public’s faith in the justice system.”


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