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MoJ to end Friday prison releases for most vulnerable

The Ministry of Justice has today announced a move to “significantly reduce” Friday releases from jail.

The Ministry of Justice has said that prisoners vulnerable to addiction, mental health issues or homelessness will no longer be released on a Friday.

Instead, they will be released on the Wednesday or Thursday before their Friday release date – with strict security screenings in place. Ultimate decisions will lie with the Governors, however, and the move still requires legislation.

It will also apply to those with mobility problems or who have far to travel to get home.

The initiative is aimed at reducing re-offending as those who are released on a Friday often struggle to access services across the weekend, including mental health support and accommodation. It could lead to them spending the weekend on the streets possibly pushing them into reoffending patterns.

Currently around one in three prisoners leave on a Friday.

Also within the package announced today is £25m aimed at equipping staff with upgraded phone detectors as well as increasing the number of special machines which can detect microscopic smears of illegal substances – such as spice on prisoners’ mail.  

Both moves come under the package of reforms outlined within the Government’s response to the public consultation on its Prisons Strategy White Paper, published last December.

The latest government figures suggest that the previous £100m investment in jail security thwarted over 20,000 plots to smuggle drugs, phones and weapons into prisons over the last two years.

Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins, said: “Changing the rules so that well-behaved offenders can be released a day or two ahead of the end of their sentence will ultimately result in fewer victims and less crime.

“Making sure ex-offenders can get suitable housing and support ahead of the weekend means they are far more likely to stay on the straight and narrow – reducing reoffending and making our streets safer."

Campbell Robb, Nacro chief executive said: “For too long Friday releases have been setting people up to fail. Our campaign to end Friday releases was driven by the experience of our staff and service users and we are pleased to see this change.

“Now people will have vital extra time during the working week to secure housing, register with probation and access health services. This will help people have the best chance at their second chance.”

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