Justice Committee supports early release Bill

19.03.2015

Scottish Government plans to end the current system of automatic early release (AER) for certain types of prisoner have been supported in principle by the overwhelming majority of the Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The Committee has noted that the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill will require further amendment at Stage 2 to include revised provisions on compulsory supervision and to end AER for all long-term prisoners, as set out by the Cabinet Secretary of Justice during the Stage 1 process.

The Committee is looking for greater reassurance over Committee and witness concerns around the detail of how such supervisions will be provided and on the availability of rehabilitation programmes in prison.

Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP said: 

“The Committee welcomes the aims of this Bill and notes the new Cabinet Secretary’s willingness to act on evidence heard from witnesses who questioned whether the provisions in the original Bill would meet the Government’s objective of improving public safety. 

“We were pleased that the Cabinet Secretary outlined his proposals to amend the Bill at Stage 2.  In our report we have highlighted the areas where we require further detail to help us consider those amendments, and have requested further information on the cost of the new provisions and how these will be resourced. 

“As a Committee we look forward to continuing to scrutinise this Bill as it continues its Parliamentary passage, ensuring that the views of witnesses, and the Bill’s core principles of reducing reoffending and improving public safety, are reflected in its final form. 

“Accordingly, given the scope of the proposed Government amendments, we may seek additional time for scrutiny at Stage 2.” 

Background 

The Draft Stage 1 Report on Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill is available here

Margaret Mitchell MSP dissented from the Committee’s support for the general principle of the Bill.

The Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill is available here http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/80130.aspx

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