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Labour’s New Release Strategy: Early Prisoner Release to Combat Overcrowding Amidst Government Concerns

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Inmates may be released sooner under Labour's proposals to address overcrowding in prisons. The home secretary emphasized that resolving the overcrowding issue will not be an immediate solution and expressed significant concern about the conditions left by the previous Conservative administration.

By Mollie Malone, news reporter

Monday, July 8, 2024, 4:

Officials are anticipated to unveil new strategies aimed at reducing the overcrowding issue in prisons throughout England and Wales by the close of this week.

Sky News has learned that a key proposal under review involves reducing the automatic release point for prisoners, currently set at the halfway point of their sentence, to either 40% or 43%.

Currently, inmates who are serving standard determinate sentences, which have specified completion dates, are typically released when they reach the midpoint of their sentence.

Upon release, individuals continue their sentence under probation, where they are monitored by probation officers in the community and are required to adhere to specific terms.

Reducing the threshold for automatic parole might result in the early release of thousands more prisoners.

Individuals convicted of sexual, violent, or terrorism-related crimes are not included in the proposal.

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Today marked the commencement of Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood's first complete week in her new position, during which she convened a meeting with various stakeholders from the prison service.

Sky News has learned that Ms. Mahmood was eager to highlight her past as a barrister, her expertise in the field, and the prime minister's previous role as director of public prosecutions.

She voiced an interest in leveraging technology and artificial intelligence to enhance the service's efficiency going forward.

Ms. Mahmood discussed the urgent issues facing prisons, but according to sources, she did not provide much detail while the government is still considering its choices.

The entity is seeking potential new actions that offer immediate relief from current stressors, as efforts persist to develop sustainable, long-term resolutions.

This past weekend, the justice secretary received updates from the prison and probation service and plans to make her decision public by the end of this week.

Stay informed on the most recent developments in the UK and globally by tuning into Sky News.

Insiders connected to the correctional system are worried that any resolution must be implemented swiftly to avoid continuous reliance on temporary solutions such as the End of Custody Supervised Licence scheme.

Introduced by the Conservative government in October, this policy permits the early release of specific inmates up to 70 days prior to their sentence completion, aimed at alleviating prison overcrowding.

Probation officers have informed Sky News that prisoners deemed "high risk" are being released without adequate time for necessary safety evaluations.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to continue the prior administration's initiative aimed at alleviating overcrowding, as his administration takes on the challenge of an expanding number of inmates.

According to Sky News, approximately 700 spots remain available in men's prisons throughout England and Wales.

Further information: Early release for Scottish inmates considered, Labour pledges significant increase in prison capacity

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The strain is anticipated to diminish in August due to the courts operating on a reduced schedule from August through October, resulting in a decrease in the number of individuals being incarcerated.

During a community policing tour in south London, Home Secretary Yvette Cooper acknowledged today that addressing the issue of prison overcrowding will not be an immediate solution, indicating that the current government is deeply troubled by the conditions left by the previous Conservative administration.

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"She indicated that their approach was akin to a scorched earth policy, neglecting to construct the necessary prisons," she stated.

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