TIMES: Tories Gamble on Public Safety By Pushing Prison Governors to Release Thousands of Criminals Early

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Theresa May’s Ministry of Justice is rolling the dice with the public’s safety by pressuring prison governors to release thousands of criminals early, according to The Times.

Officials have apparently discovered that they could more than quintuple the number of prisoners released under the so-called Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme, including violent robbers and home invaders:

Thousands more prisoners are to be released early under a government drive to relieve pressure on overcrowded and drug-ridden jails, The Times has learnt.

The Ministry of Justice has acted to significantly increase the number of inmates in an early release scheme after discovering that tens of thousands of eligible offenders — including those serving sentences for violence, robbery, burglary and public order crimes — were missing out.

Governors have been ordered to review cases of prisoners refused release under the home detention curfew (HDC) scheme, which allows them to return home with an electronic tag and curfew, according to a paper quietly released by the MoJ last month. The order is intended to lead to the release on HDC of most eligible offenders.

The Times reports that some 9,041 prisoners were released under the Home Detention Curfew scheme in 2016, while more than 35,000 who were potentially eligible “missed out”.

Prison sentences in Britain are already weak, with the average “life” sentence for murder entailing an average of only 16 years in custody.

Most criminals in general only serve half of their prison sentences in custody, under rules mandating automatic parole at the halfway point of almost all determinate sentences — a fact mainstream media outlets seldom report.

While cuts to the prisons budget and a reluctance to send criminals to “overcrowded and drug-ridden” prisons in the first place is often painted as a cost issue — spending on prisons fell by more than a fifth between 2009/10 and 2016/17 — this is not convincing.

Day-to-day spending on prisons was only £2.71 billion in 2016/17, according to the Institute for Government — while £13.4 billion was given away to other countries in foreign aid.

This strongly suggests that the Tories have made a conscious decision to run down the prison estate in favour of other spending priorities.

Read the article by The Times in full here.

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