The Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill, a Private Members Bill presented by Simon Fell MP and backed by the founder of the Big Issue, Lord Bird, has received Royal Assent.
Currently, prisoners released on a Friday have just a few hours to secure a bed for the night, but this new law will see them free to go up to two days early, giving them precious time to get set up for a life on the outside.
With many essential support services, such as local authority housing, substance misuse support or mental health services closed at weekends and bank holidays, those released on a Friday face an extra set back that could leave them homeless their first night on the outside. This new law will ensure they have the best chance to access the services that will help their transition to life on the outside.
The Offenders (Day of Release from Detention) Bill will allow an offender’s release date to be brought forward by up to two days if it falls on a Friday or the day before a bank or public holiday.
By removing the barriers that a Friday release can bring, it can ensure that custody-leavers have a better chance to access the support they need to reintegrate into the community, not only helping them to get the support they need but also reducing the chance of recidivism.
Around a third of all prisoners are released on a Friday, with the reoffending rate for adults released on a Friday is higher than for any other day of the week. Former prisoners living in safe accommodation are around 50 per cent less likely to re-offend.