United Kingdom: New law to help prisoners after release used once in a year

A new law to stop prisoners waiting days for support on leaving jail has only been used just once in the year since its launch.

The Prisoners (Control of Release) Act came into force on February 1, 2016 and enabled Scottish ministers to bring forward an inmate’s release date by up to two days to aid reintegration.

The scheme is aimed at preventing offenders leaving jail on a Friday or before a public holiday and being unable to access vital services such as housing, healthcare and addiction support due to closures.

The Scottish Conservatives have criticised the “shocking under-use” of the new power and are calling on the government to take action.

However, justice secretary Michael Matheson said the law is only one of a range of measures aimed at helping prisoners reintegrate.

Tory shadow justice secretary Douglas Ross said: “This was a welcome provision which everyone agreed would not only help the chances of rehabilitation, but ultimately improve public safety too.

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