Scottish prison

Scottish Parliament approves early prisoner release

The Scottish Parliament has approved the release of some short-term prisoners in response to a rapid rise in the prison population.

Around 514 prisoners will be eligible for release in four tranches from 26th June, which equates to roughly 1 in 16 prisoners in Scotland.

In order to protect public safety, the criteria mean that only prisoners serving sentences of four years or less, and who are due for release within the next 180 days (as of 13th June 2024), will be eligible for release.

Furthermore, some categories of prisoners are automatically excluded from release, including those who are on the Sex Offenders Register or have an unspent conviction for domestic abuse.

Prison governors will also have the right to veto the early release of any prisoners, should they be deemed an immediate risk to a specific individual or group.

Victims will also be able to receive information about the release of a prisoner and will have access to victim support groups.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said:

“Immediate and urgent action is needed to deal with the significant recent rise in the prison population.”

“Through this emergency early release plan, backed by Parliament, we are responding to this critical situation and ensuring the safety and welfare of staff and prisoners.

“Protecting the public remains my absolute priority, which is why there are significant and robust safeguards in place and only those due to be released in the next short while are eligible.

“This is part of a significant package of measures we are taking in both the short and longer term to deal with the continuing rise in Scotland’s prison population, which remains one of the highest in Western Europe.”

As of 12th June 2024, the current prison population in Scotland is 8,294.

Eligible prisoners will be released in four tranches on 26th/27th June, 3rd/4th July, 10th/11th July and 17th/18th July, with all releases to be completed by 25th July.

Image credit: iStock


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