WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
July 13 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Prison overcrowding crisis may see Labour release offenders after serving only 40% of their sentence

Prison overcrowding crisis may see Labour release offenders after serving only 40% of their sentence

It has been reported that the newly elected Labour Party is considering early release of certain prisoners after serving just 40% of their sentence with a view to tackling prison overcrowding.

The proposed plan would release prisoners on ‘determinate’ sentences who have served between 40-43% of their prison time. However, this would exclude offenders convicted of violent offenses such as sex crimes, violence, or terrorism.

This is just one of proposals being considered by the Ministry of Justice in response to what has been described as an ‘acute’ crisis as prisons are expected to become full within the next week or so.

The Justice Gap previously reported that prison population pressures would create an ‘immediate crisis’ for any new government appointed after the election due to concerns prison would run out of space. According to government officials, the prison population stood at 87,505 as of May 2024, with the maximum usable capacity only able to extend to a population of 88,895.

However, the new Prime Minister Keir Starmer has suggested that Labour’s longer term plans will aim to reduce the number of people going to prison through efforts to prevent reoffending. This will include plans to work on early intervention with young people to help prevent them becoming involved in knife crime.

At a press conference on Saturday, the new Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, explained: ‘I’ve sat in the back of I don’t know how many criminal courts and watched people processed through the system on an escalator to go into prison. And I’ve often reflected that many of them could have been taken out of that system earlier if they’d had support…’

The Prime Minister’s appointment of James Timpson as the new prisons minister has been described by the BBC as an ‘early signal that a change of approach may be on the cards in this area.’ Mr Timpson is chair of the Prison Reform Trust and is known for his dedication to hiring former offenders in his key-cutting business to help them find employment after completion of their sentences.

Mr. Timpson has previously criticised our criminal justice system for its punitive approach in an interview with Channel 4, where he stated: ‘We’re addicted to sentencing, we’re addicted to punishment…So many of the people in prison in my view shouldn’t be there. A lot should but a lot shouldn’t, and they’re there for far too long.’

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