The power to release prisoners two days early exists to avoid the situation in which released offenders are unable to access services during the weekend that are crucial to getting them on the road to a law-abiding life. Over the past three years, the power has been used just 15 times, despite more than 11,000 Friday releases.
In November 2016, the First Minister gave an undertaking to my former colleague Douglas Ross that she would look into the matter. Can she explain why there have been no improvements since that undertaking?
Decisions concerning the release of prisoners should be taken for the right reasons and with consideration of what is right for the reintegration of prisoners into the community.
Our programme of reform of sentencing is under way. We want to make sure that the people who should be and deserve to be in prison are in prison; where other sentences are appropriate, we want to make sure that they are available. On the release of prisoners, the first and most important thing that we take account of is the interests of victims, but we also recognise that, on occasion, the early release of prisoners is in the interests of wider communities, because it helps with the reintegration process.