We have been informed by the Scottish Prison Service that the procedures for ending Friday Releases will begin on Monday 1st February 2016. This was part of the Scottish Government’s Prisoners (Control of Early release) (Scotland) Act 2015 .
The relevant law is contained in Section 2 of the above Act and is reproduced below: –
2 Release timed to benefit re-integration
(1) The Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 is amended as follows.
(2) After section 26B there is inserted—
(1) Where a prisoner is to be released by the Scottish Ministers, they may release the prisoner on a day that is earlier than the day on which the prisoner would otherwise fall to be released (but this is subject to subsections (2) and (3)).
(2) The release of a prisoner may be brought forward under subsection (1) only if, in the Scottish Ministers’ opinion, it would be better for the prisoner’s re-integration into the community for the prisoner to be released on the earlier day than on the day on which the prisoner would otherwise fall to be released.
(3) The release of a prisoner may not be brought forward under subsection (1) by more than 2 days.
(4) In a case in which section 27(7) applies, a reference in this section to the day on which a prisoner would fall to be released is to the day on which the prisoner would fall to be released by virtue of that section.
(5) This section does not apply in relation to a prisoner who is serving a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than 15 days.”.
Essentially this gives Scottish Ministers, through the offices of Prison Governors, the power to release a prisoner up top two days early from their sentence, IF it will help with their reintegration back to the community (The above provision will not apply to all prisoners due for release on a Friday). This is important because Friday release is such a problem for some people. Upon release they often do not have time to fit into a day the number of appointments and meetings that they have to attend. It is made much worse when the release is on a Friday and all support services are then closed for the week-end.
The two day margin will allow releases to be made on a Wednesday when the Friday is a bank holiday.
This bit of legislation came about following a meeting with Scottish Government Ministers and ourselves. The Ministers listened intently to Colin Jenkins as he outlined the problems that arise with Friday release. These would invariably include an almost immediate return to offending behaviour so that you could get some shelter for the weekend. Colin sadly passed on before this legislation was even put on the table but “Colin’s Law”, as we refer to it, is a fitting tribute and legacy for his contribution made that day to the Scottish Ministers.
As yet, we do not have proposals or procedures as to how this will be implemented within each institution but we will share that information as soon as we receive it…