Saturday, 15 December 2007

Labour giving criminals a break – as they walk free from local jails

Worrying new figures expose scandal of convicted criminals being let out early

New analysis of Government statistics revealed this week that 1,340 criminals have been let out of prison before finishing their sentences across the East Midlands Region since June, under Labour’s controversial new early release scheme. In HMP Lincoln, Greetwell Road, Lincoln, 36 criminals have been let out onto the streets.

Across the country, 11,000 criminals have already walked out of prison early under the ‘end of custody licence’ system, with an estimated 25,500 criminals to be let out over a full year. They include violent offenders and foreign nationals convicted of serious offences. The scheme was introduced because a shortage in prison places, thanks to a funding crisis caused by Gordon Brown.

Labour Ministers are now planning a new sentencing quango, which would, for the first time, link sentences to prison capacity, so that when jails are full, criminals could receive shorter sentences or not be sent to prison at all.

Giles McNeill said:
“By definition, being sent to prison means someone has committed a serious offence. Yet Labour is giving criminals a break, by letting them loose on to our streets."

“Serious crimes should be punished by a prison sentence, not least to protect the public. It is no wonder that violent crime has doubled under this Government when Gordon Brown is giving the culprits a ‘get out of jail’ card this Christmas. This is fundamentally wrong. Sentences should fit the crime, not this week’s prison capacity.”
Conservatives are calling for:

· An immediate halt to the early release scheme, and the introduction of an emergency prison places programme using the savings from scrapping the flawed Identity Card scheme.

· Doubling the sentencing powers of magistrates to 12 months and repealing any new restrictions on their ability to hand down suspended sentences.

· Honesty in sentencing so that convicted criminals serve the minimum sentence handed down to them by the courts.

· Sufficient prison capacity to hold all those sentenced by the courts – and reforming prison regimes to break the cycle of re-offending.

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