[JURIST] UK Justice Minister Jack Straw [official profile] announced Monday that the government plans to terminate to the inmate early release program initiated in June 2007 to ease prison overcrowding [JURIST news archive]. In remarks before the House of Commons [official website], Straw indicated that inmates eligible for release under the End of Custody Licence (ECL) [text, PDF] scheme on or before March 12 would be set free and that the program would be concluded by April 9. The Conservative Party [party website] has long called for an end to the ECL, and Monday reaffirmed [press release] its stance following Straw's announcement.
Last month, the UK Parliament Justice Committee [official website] released a reinvestment report [text] urging the prison populations in England and Wales to be reduced by a third [JURIST report]. The committee found that incarceration is a relatively ineffective way of reducing crime except for serious offenders and that the amount of repeat offenders could be more efficiently reduced through rehabilitation programs such as housing, employment, education, and drug and alcohol services. The committee admits that the implementation of their proposed strategy would be complex and challenging, but that it is necessary to reduce the UK's heavy burden of prison overcrowding and the reduction of repeat offenders.