19th March 2020 - COVID 19 Prisoner Release Plan
I have been asked by a number of people (both for and against) about the possible release of UK prisoners, what release might look like and who may be affected.
Full details of the reasons why release must be considered an urgent priority, can be found at this link www.tinyurl.com/freelowriskprisoners
Although it is for @RobertBuckland to announce if, or when, there is a plan to release prisoners, I thought it would be helpful to consolidate my thoughts as to how any release scheme(s) may work.
Any release plan is logically and likely to be similar to the following:
.1) Who will qualify:
a) Consideration for early release will only be given to prisoners who:
b) Those who are accused or convicted, of violence or sexual harm, who are prolific offenders or who have breached bail, tag or licence conditions previously will be precluded.
2) Priority will be given to children, elderly and vulnerable prisoners who have underlying medical conditions (particularly including pregnant females and children) or who would usually be sole carer for a person with an underlying medical condition, which would place them at greater risk should they contract #COVID19
3) Testing. All prisoners whether benefitting from early release or standard release should be tested for COVID19 beforehand so that they can be well informed and so that the prison are able to make provision for the people they have been in close contact, such as cell sharers.
4) Order of Release; in reality, multiple schemes will run concurrently.
a) UNCONVICTED REMAND prisoners, subject to housing and personalised bail conditions to manage risk.
b) DETERMINATE (Fixed release date) prisoners:
c) INDETERMINATE (Minimum Tariff then parole decision required before release) prisoners:
d) CONVICTED REMAND prisoners who are likely, under the guidelines, to receive a prison sentence which is equivalent to less than the time they have served, plus 6 months.
It is important to mention that any releases will have an immediate and noticeable effect on all prisoners and prison staff who are working in an increasingly pressurised environment. If steam is not released from a sealed environment, but is allowed to continue building up, an explosion is inevitable. We are already in a prison crisis, #COVID19 is understandably causing staff absences, tension and almost permanent bang-up behind doors; indicating that we must take action to release pressure now.
Please note: this is my opinion, none of the above has been endorsed by any third party and the UK has yet to make any formal announcement about releases.
Comments welcome via facebook or twitter @philmartinuk
Please sign and share the petition www.tinyurl.com/freelowriskprisoners