Pete’s piece was then followed by a debate between Graeme Pearson MSP and Rod Campbell MSP. An interview with Ruth Davidson MSP followed the item and made reference to the bill.
A Bill for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to end the right of certain long-term prisoners to automatic early release from prison at the two-thirds point of their sentences and to allow prisoners serving all but very short sentences to be released from prison one or two days early to better enable their re-integration into the community.
The Bill was passed on the 23rd June 2015.
The highlighted element is the part of the Bill that we refer to as Colin’s Law. Colin Jenkins was one of our activists who met with the inter-departmental group of Government Ministers and used his lived experience to highlight the problems that can arise from Friday release. It is a fitting legacy to the man who passed on long before his time…
In essence, it means that Governors now have the authority to release a prisoner from their sentence up to two days early thus avoiding Friday release (or Thursday release if Friday is a public holiday). However, it should be noted that this is a discretionary power and that it would not become the norm, and that the Scottish Government would work with the Scottish Prison Service to produce guidance on the circumstances in which the discretion to release early would be applied.
We would hope that this guidance is produced sooner rather than later and that the evidence provided by Colin as to the problems that can arise acts as the guiding principle in its formulation.
As for the rest of the Bill, the day before the vote a number of organisations, including us, and esteemed academics issued a briefing note to all MSPs. There were a number of concerns in the note that addressed what they saw as the main failings of the Bill as it currently stood. The full briefing note is available on the Howard League Scotland’s website.
Pete White went onto the BBC programme “Scotland 2015” to talk about early release and this can beviewed on i-player until 22nd July