Call for evidence on the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is seeking views on the general principles of the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill. A copy of the Bill and accompanying Policy Memorandum and Explanatory Notes can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/80130.aspx

The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 14 August 2014.

The Bill seeks to end automatic early release for sex offenders sentenced to determinate custodial sentences of four years or more and other offenders sentenced to determinate custodial sentences of 10 years or more.

The Bill would also allow the Scottish Prison Service, acting on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, to release sentenced prisoners up to two days early where this would help facilitate community reintegration (eg by allowing for early access to key public services).

The Justice Committee is particularly interested in hearing your views on the provisions in the Bill relating to:

 Restriction of Automatic Early Release
• whether the scope of the proposed reforms is appropriate
• what impact the proposals would have on the work of criminal justice social workers and others in trying to ensure that released prisoners are safely reintegrated back into communities
• what impact the proposals would have on prisoner numbers and the work of the Parole Board
• the appropriate use of determinate sentences as compared with non-mandatory life sentences (eg orders for lifelong restriction) in terms of protecting the public from dangerous offenders
• whether the proposals are consistent with the thus far un-commenced early release provisions set out in the Custodial Sentences and Weapons (Scotland) Act 2007 (as amended by the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010) 

Power of Early Release for Community Reintegration
• whether the Scottish Prison Service should be given this power (including reasons for this view)
• how tightly the use of such a power should be constrained by guidance which the Scottish Government proposes to produce in conjunction with the Scottish Prison Service

Further details on the Bill are contained in the Policy Memorandum and Explanatory Notes.

Justice Committee consideration 

The Justice Committee expects to consider written submissions and to take evidence during January 2015, before reporting on the Bill’s general principles in February. The Justice Committee invites all interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence on the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill.

The Committee’s first evidence session on the Bill will take place on 13 January and so it would be helpful to receive any written evidence no later than 5.00 pm on Tuesday 6 January 2015 to feed into this session.

How to submit written evidence
Before making a submission, please read the Parliament’s policy on treatment of written evidence by subject and mandatory committees.

Written submissions should normally be limited to around 4 sides of A4. Longer submissions should be accompanied by a short summary of the main points. Submissions should be set out in simple numbered paragraphs. Where the submission refers to existing published material, it is preferable to provide hyperlinks or full citations (rather than extensive extracts).

Anyone wishing their evidence to be treated confidentially should contact the Justice Committee clerking team at the email address or phone number below before submitting their evidence. It will then be for the Committee to decide whether or not to accept the submission on the basis that it will not be published (though it will be seen in full by the Committee). However, the Parliament is required to consider requests for information under freedom of information legislation and therefore cannot guarantee that the evidence will never be released.

The Committee welcomes written evidence in English, Gaelic or any other language. If possible, written submissions should be submitted electronically (preferably in word processing format i.e. Microsoft Word or Apple Pages) (if you send a PDF file, please also email us an MS Word version of the submission).

Submit your evidence:

By email to: justice.committee@scottish.parliament.uk

or if this is not possible, then in hard copy to:

Justice Committee Clerks
Room T2.60
Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP

Contact
Any queries about written submissions should be addressed in the first instance to the Justice Committee clerking team at the above email address or (0131) 348 5047.

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