The government is considering plans for the early release of up to 3,000 prisoners, after being told by senior members of the judiciary and Prison Service that there is no more room in Britain’s overflowing jails. The news is likely to prompt fresh criticism that ministers failed to anticipate the overcrowding crisis.
A decision to release thousands of prisoners before they have completed their sentences is expected to be announced after responsibility for prisons is transferred from the Home Office to the new Ministry of Justice on Wednesday. The Home Secretary, John Reid, has refused to release prisoners early. Both the Home Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs have consistently denied that the government has drawn up plans for such a move.
But Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, who is to head the Ministry of Justice, now accepts there is no alternative.
3,000 ‘freed early’ to ease prison crowding