Skip to comments.UK: 1,000 danger convicts are set free without tags (Overcrowding: Violent felons sprung early)
Posted on 07/21/2007 5:49:46 AM PDT by Stoat
Out: An early-release scheme prisoner leaves jail
Nearly 1,000 criminals freed early to ease the prison overcrowding crisis had previously been rated too unsafe to be let out with an electronic tag, it has emerged.
They were ordered to remain behind bars because governors rated them a high risk of re-offending.
Despite these fears, they have been freed under Labour's controversial early release scheme announced as an emergency measure last month after the prison population hit a record 81,000.
The 951 criminals were among the first batch of 1,400 inmates released from the end of last month, 18 days before the end of their sentence. Each was given £172, to make up for the loss of bed and board in jail.
Yesterday's revelation is yet another blow for the early release policy which the Conservatives described as 'potentially highly dangerous'.
The party's justice spokesman Edward Garnier said: 'If they were not safe to be let out on tags, why are they safe to be let out with taxpayers' cash in their pockets but no tags on their ankles?
'Some 225 of these inmates were serving sentences of between one and four years which suggests they had committed very serious crimes.
'The Government are letting out utterly unsuitable offenders early without proper checks, at least six of whom have simply grabbed the cash given them on release and gone out to commit further offences. This scheme is potentially highly dangerous and undermines public safety.'
Ministers insisted all inmates set free would be properly assessed to ensure there was no risk to the public.
But opposition MPs questioned how this could be the case if 951 of those freed in the first batch had been denied their freedom under the separate home detention curfew scheme.
The scheme, introduced by Labour shortly after coming to power, allows inmates sentenced to four years or less to be freed up to four and a half months before they reach the halfway point - the usual release date - wearing an electronic tag.
Violent and sexual offenders are normally turned down, along with anybody rated at risk of reoffending or who does not have a suitable home address. Having been rejected, the 951 offenders were considered only a few weeks or months later for the panic early release scheme - and allowed to walk free despite the past concerns.
It suggests the hurdle for the early release scheme, despite ministerial assurances, is dramatically lower than for the home detention curfew scheme.
Of all the inmates given early release - including those who had not previously applied for the home detention curfew scheme - at least six have reoffended.
The total number freed under the scheme stands at 1,700. They include 344 convicted of violence, along with 24 robbers, 149 burglars and 65 drug offenders
Thirty are back behind bars after breaching their release conditions. A further 18 are 'unlawfully at large' after failing to stay in contact with probation officers.
Despite the early releases, prison numbers are already beginning to rise again.
The jail population has returned to almost 80,000. Privately, officials fear that by autumn they could be facing a fresh overcrowding crisis.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said the early release and home detention curfew schemes had different eligibility criteria, reflecting the longer period - up to four and a half months - for which prisoners had to comply with conditions under the latter policy.
Those ineligible for that scheme might therefore pass the criteria for release 18 days early under the plan to ease prison overcrowding.
No second ammendment there, too.
What a beautiful picture!
They need more prisons too....
Disarm the people and then turn dangerous felons loose. Obviously the authorities are themselves the most dangerous of psychopaths.
Is there any doubt that liberals are evil?
Another one of those screaming non-sequiters. Breathtaking, really.
I just had a huge argument with a leftist at my work who went on about how many people the US has in prisons; I told him we need to build more, that there were still too many criminals gaming our system. He went on about the Europeans and their incarceration rates. I told him Europe was a criminals paradise and becoming more dangerous all the time, that London was far more crime infested than New York, and that England is facing a massive crime problem that they have not even begun to address seriously. And here comes this little gift for my bulletin board. Poor Brits, they are going to pay and pay for this type of idiocy.