Prisoners will no longer be given Friday release dates, which severely limit their chances at finding stable accommodation, thanks to new legislation passed by parliament.
The Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill will allow prison governors to release prisoners on Wednesday or Thursday if they have mental health issues, substance abuse problems or a long distance to travel home.
The change is expected to make a huge difference not only to the lives of former prisoners, but also cut reoffending rates and reduce the pressure on prisons.
“Cutting crime and protecting the public is my top priority and ending Friday releases is a significant but common-sense change that will do exactly that,” said prisons minister Damian Hinds. “By maximising the time people have when they leave prison to get a job, a home and access drug treatment we can continue to drive down reoffending rates.”
Around a third of prisoners are released on a Friday, but they are statistically more likely to reoffend than those released on any other day of the week. This is because charities and council services that offer housing, drug rehabilitation and mental health support often close for the weekend, leaving former inmates in the lurch.
Former prisoners who are able to get safe accommodation are around 50% less likely to reoffend.