Written 7th October 2013 by Olliers Solicitors

On Friday 4th October, the Justice Secretary announced his intention to reintroduce conditional release for certain sentences, ending automatic early release.

Criminal Justice Act 2003

Before the Criminal Justice Act 2003 came into force all prisoners serving more than 4 years were subject to conditional release at the half way point of sentence, subject to a decision by the Parole Board under the discretionary conditional release scheme. Following the implementation of the CJA 2003, this requirement was removed. The position currently, is that all offenders serving over 12 months are automatically released at the half way point of sentence unless they are subject to an indeterminate sentence.

The Justice Secretary has announced today his intention for that to come to an end. It is his intention to lay primary legislation before Parliament which means a vote in the House of Commons will be required to pass the proposed changes.

Extended Determinate Sentences

However, it is likely to come into force and the effect will be that prisoners serving sentences for a range of serious offences, such as child rape or certain terrorism offences, will have their release made subject to an application before the Parole Board who will now be responsible for deciding whether or not a prisoner is considered to be safe enough to be released back into the community.

The proposals will also mean prisoners who are made subject to the new Extended Determinate Sentences will now not be automatically released at the two third point of their sentence but again will be subject to consideration for release by the Parole Board. Those subjected to EDS sentences may face the prospect of serving the entire custodial term before being released if they cannot convince the Parole Board that the risk they pose to the public is manageable in the community on licence.

Jeremy Pinson

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