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Changes to automatic early release

The Scottish Government has announced plans to end automatic early release for prisoners who present the most serious potential risks to the public.

At present, prisoners who are sentenced to four years or more are called long term prisoners. They can be considered for release by the Parole Board at any time between the half-way point of their sentence and the two-thirds point of their sentence. If a long-term prisoner reaches the two-thirds point of their sentence and the Parole Board has not ordered their early release then they are automatically released on licence.

The new policy will bring this automatic early release to an end for serious offenders, such as those convicted of violent crimes who are sentenced to ten years in prison or more. Automatic early release will also be ended for sexual offenders sentenced to four years or more.

The types of violent offending covered will include culpable homicide, attempted murder, serious assault and robbery, where an offender has received a sentence of ten years or more.

The types of sexual offending covered will include rape, sexual assault and sexual offences against children, where an offender has received a sentence of four years or more.

If approved by Parliament, the changes will affect prisoners being sentenced after the legislation comes into force.

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