31 Dec 2012
The number of criminals due to be released early by the SNP has increased by nearly four per cent, latest figures have revealed.
More than 15,000 people who were convicted in Scotland’s courts last year will only serve half their sentence under the Scottish Government’s automatic early release policy.
That includes 11 guilty of homicide, eight rapists and 3,369 offenders sent to prison for attempted murder or serious assault.
In addition, 800 who were sent to jail for possession of a knife will be automatically let out after serving 50 per cent of their sentence, regardless of how they behave while inside.
The automatic early release scheme will also see a range of dangerous criminals set free after serving two-thirds of their sentence, including 38 people convicted of rape or attempted rape, and 81 convicted of homicide.
The Scottish Conservatives have consistently urged the Scottish Government to drop automatic early release.
The SNP has twice promised to drop the discredited scheme in its election manifestos, yet prisoners are continuing to benefit.
A total of 15,312 criminals sentenced in 2011/12 will be released early – 3.8 per cent more than the previous year.
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman David McLetchie MSP said:
“Far from being scrapped, this disastrous policy is actually benefiting more dangerous criminals as time goes on.
“When convicts – especially those guilty of serious crimes – are handed down a sentence, the public expects that to be served.
“Instead, what we have is people who have committed murder and rape walking free half or two-thirds of the way through.
“It is no wonder the SNP is accused of being soft on justice when it refuses to drop such a discredited policy, even though it has promised to in its last two election manifestos.
“You cannot expect people to be properly rehabilitated if they are only spending half the intended time inside.
“And what kind of message does it send to those considering criminal acts that, even if they’re handed what looks like a stern sentence, they will have to serve merely a fraction of it?”