The Scottish Government’s pledge to end automatic release of prisoners seems to have been set back by an amendment to the proposals forwarded by an MSP. The Government has been pushing for an end to the system that sees many criminals released from prison early and would mean that most prisoners would stay behind bars until they have served their full term.
The plans of the Government have been widely criticised, with a number of experts, including academics Fergus McNeill, Professor of Criminology and Social Work at Glasgow University, and Cyrus Tata, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at Strathclyde University, publically stating that this would make many criminals more dangerous when they are released back into society.
These academics, along with Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, believe that one quarter of sentences given should be served in the community as this is necessary for effectively reintegration.
Labour MSP Elaine Murray, the deputy convenor of the Parliament’s Justice Committee and the MSP who proposed the amendment for the early release of prisoners, told the media, “It stands to reason that if you’re in prison longer, it takes longer for reintegration. The recommendation from the committee [in its stage one report] was that the period should be proportional to the length of sentence.”
Ms Murray went on to say that, “It’s important to acknowledge that the government is no longer getting rid of automatic early release. I think Michael Matheson has been left with a mess in what was always Kenny MacAskill’s bill.”