The government has conducted a review of the process for prisoners to be released on temporary licence (ROTL); the drive behind the changes being the rehabilitation of offenders.
Research has shown that working in the community prior to release significantly reduces the likelihood of re-offending, and ex-offenders in employment are up to nine percentage points less likely to commit further crime.
Re-offending currently costs the country £15 billion per year.
Previous changes focussed on support for ex-offenders when they leave prison with changes to the probation service and a move away from short, ineffective, prison sentences and to allow more effective treatment of issues such as addiction and mental health problems.
Now a number of changes have been made to the previous policy on ROTL, for adults, to assist in preparation for resettlement in the community once released.
The changes include:
• The threshold for Restricted ROTL is changed so that it is focussed on the most serious offenders.
• The current restriction on ROTL in the first three months after transfer to open conditions is removed, subject to a risk assessment.
• Those serving indeterminate sentences are eligible to be considered for unaccompanied day release (RDR) from the point of entry to an open prison or reaching open status in a women’s prison.
• In order to streamline the process agencies are consulted and boards only sit where necessary, with a focus on the right information and reducing paperwork.
• Greater use of workplace ROTL is encouraged; paid work will be allowed as soon as a prisoner is eligible for day release and the requirement for a prisoner on ROTL to spend at least one 24-hour period per week in prison is removed.
• Primary and sole carers will be allowed to apply for Childcare Resettlement Licence.
• Prisoners with a prior history of absconding will be allowed to be risk assessed for open conditions and ROTL if the history is more than two years ago and happened only once in the current sentence.
• Directors of contracted prisons will be allowed to take ROTL decisions whilst the Controller will continue to monitor the Director’s compliance in this area.
Any temporary release will always be balanced with the need for maintaining public safety and the public’s confidence in the judicial system, for example, the risk assessment will consider the impact of any release on identified victims and their whereabouts. More serious offenders will be subject to Restricted ROTL which includes a number of elements over and above Standard ROTL such as enhanced monitoring.
The use of ROTL was restricted in 2013 following a murder committed by a prisoner on day release but the new changes mark a shift in attitude. Allowing prisoners to spend time in the community is a vital part of reintegration and 99% of all temporary releases are completed successfully.
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