Supplementary note by the Home Office
WEEKEND PRISON SENTENCES: INTERNATIONAL EXAMPLES
1. A number of witnesses to the inquiry
have commented on the use of weekend prison sentences in Germany
and elsewhere. The Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate
have contacted a small number of countries to find out more about
these schemes. Their responses are summarised below. More detailed
information could be provided if the Committee requires it.
2. The German system allows prisoners late
in their sentence to leave the prison to work during the day returning
in the evening and for the whole weekend.
3. Sweden introduced a system in the mid
1970s of allowing prisoners (about one month before discharge)
to have a "work permit". This means that prisoners are
allowed to work during weekdays from 8am-5pm returning to the
prison in the evenings/weekends. At 1 October 1997, 102 prisoners
(out of a sentenced prison population of 4,700) were granted such
a permit. Each month about 80-90 new prisoners enter the scheme.
Such prisoners must be from low security prisons and deemed to
be socially suitable. Its use is limited by the number of prisoners
housed near their own home/work.
4. The Dutch used to have a system whereby
offenders went to prison at the weekend using cells vacated by
prisoners on home leave. There are no prisoners currently under
this scheme although legislation still permits it.
5. After serving about three-quarters of
their sentence, prisoners may exercise their own occupation during
the day, spending only nights and weekends in prisons. This system
of semi-detention was initially only for those serving sentences
of up to 6 months but on 1st January 1996 it was extended to include
those serving sentences of up to one year. [Iceland set up a similar
"half-way" house scheme in 1995].
6. A similar system to Switzerland called
"day-parole" exists for prisoners who have served one-third
of their sentence. In 1997, it was extended to those who had served
one-sixth of their sentence if they were first offenders who had
committed non-violent crimes and did not seem likely to commit
a similar crime in the future.
7. All the systems mentioned above, although
helping prisoners to cope with release into the community, will
have no effect on overcrowding since the inmates still occupy
30 March 1998