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Report Uncovers Risks in Early Release Prison Scheme at Lewes, High-Risk Offenders Freed Prematurely



New report reveals early release program at Lewes prison includes 'high-risk' offenders

A comprehensive review conducted in February at Lewes prison has revealed that the early release program there is allowing prisoners, some of whom pose a "risk to children" and have backgrounds of">king, domestic abuse, and violating restraining orders, to be freed prematurely.

By Mollie Malone, reporting for the news

Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 12:

A recent report has raised concerns about a program designed to alleviate overcrowding in prisons throughout England and Wales, indicating that it has resulted in the release of "high-risk" inmates, including some who pose a threat to children.

The review of HMP Lewes conducted by the chief inspector of prisons indicated that effective risk management to ensure safety is being compromised.

The results, released on Tuesday, stemmed from an extensive review conducted at the East Sussex prison in February. Notably, a similar set of issues was also pointed out in a concurrent investigation report on Chelmsford prison, which was made public last week.

According to the government, individuals convicted of severe offenses, including terrorism or sexual crimes, as well as those receiving prison terms exceeding four years, are disqualified from early release.

During a review in Lewes, an instance was uncovered where an inmate was prematurely released under the early release program, even though he was considered a "risk to children" and had a past marked by">king, domestic violence, and a restraining order against him.

The report also mentioned the case of a "high-risk inmate with severe addiction to class A substances" who was discharged with no place to live.

"The statement mentioned that he was released, even though there were calls to reconsider the decision and significant worries about his safety and that of the public."

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The document emphasizes that the evaluation occurred just a few months after the initiative began in October, and it expresses hope that the "serious concerns" noted regarding its rollout were merely initial difficulties.

These revelations come after Sky News highlighted significant unease within the probation service regarding the early release initiative, which has undergone frequent modifications and updates since its introduction in October.

The Labour Party is urging the government to disclose more details about the guidelines of the program.

"The community will understandably be concerned upon learning that violent inmates are being set free without adequate evaluation of the danger they present to the public, particularly to children," stated Shabana Mahmood, the shadow justice secretary.

"She stated that the responsibility of informing the public about the true extent of the crisis in prisons and probation is falling on prison inspectors, as the government is not being transparent."

Correctional facilities throughout England and Wales are experiencing significant strain due to extreme overcrowding.

Data released on Friday revealed that the prison population in England and Wales stands at 87,691 individuals.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) defines the capacity for "safe and decent accommodation" in prisons, termed "certified normal accommodation" or "uncrowded capacity," as 79,507 individuals.

This implies that the existing system as a whole is operating at 110% of its capacity, indicating it is overbur

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In reaction to the recent inspection report, Andrea Coomber, the Chief Executive of the Howard League, commented: "Yet another inspection report has surfaced, uncovering severe issues within a prison system that has been overstretched and under-resourced for far too long."

"She emphasized that while it's essential to take steps to alleviate overcrowding in prisons, this short-term solution is inadequate. What is truly required is a smarter approach to criminal justice that incarcerates fewer individuals and invests more in services that assist them," she stated.

Stay informed about the newest updates from both the UK and global events by tuning into Sky News.

As of May 23, male inmates in 84 prisons throughout England and Wales who meet certain criteria are now allowed to be released up to 70 days early from their sentences. This is an increase from the previous 18 days, a change prompted by ongoing issues with overcrowding in prisons.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice stated: "Ensuring that there is sufficient space to incarcerate high-risk criminals is our priority. However, this initiative helps mitigate immediate overcrowding in prisons by transitioning certain non-violent inmates, nearing the completion of their sentences, to supervised release."

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"Individuals who have committed offenses will remain under rigorous supervision, which includes measures like electronic monitoring and enforced curfews. Additionally, the prison authorities have the power to deny early release to anyone deemed to be a significant threat."

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