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Automatic Early Release 


Restore Justice opposes the policy of automatic release of prisoners on licence into the community after serving just a half of their sentence in prison in most cases, two-thirds only for serious offenders.


We think they should serve their sentences in full, as awarded by the courts.

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The Government has changed the law on the automatic release of prisoners, moving the point of release on licence from the halfway point in a sentence to two thirds for the most serious offenders.

This would not bring a radical change needed for the way we deal with the most serious violent offenders. We urge the Government to go further and scrap the policy of automatic release in its entirety for all custodial offences and build 20,000 new prison places.

 The simple principles in achieving honesty in sentencing should be:

  1. Sentence given should be sentence served 

  2. No part-time sentences for full-time crimes

  3. Prison must serve as punishment

Supervising Offenders on Release

Pre-determined stage

Most prisoners do not serve their whole sentence in prison but serve a half or on third of their custodial sentence supervised on licence in the community. This is determined at an early stage so the prisoner knows when he is likely to 'get out'.

Automatic Conditional Release (ACR)

Prisoner Release on Licence at the halfway point in sentence

There are different conditions for different custodial sentences. For more you can see sentencing guidelines.


Those offenders sentenced to less than one year are released after serving half of their sentence and are not supervised. 


Those sentenced to between one year and 47 months (up to 4 years) are released on licence into the community after serving half of their sentence in prison. They are supervised by probation until the end of the sentence. 

Discretionary Conditional Release

Release after 

two thirds of prison sentence

Offenders sentenced to 4 years or more can still be released on parole after serving just half of their sentence, but are automatically released on licence after serving two thirds of the sentence.  Whilst on licence they are supervised by probation.

The length of the supervision period depends on the length of the sentence and the point at which the prisoner is released.  This can vary from 3 months for someone sentenced to a year’s custody to the remainder of his/her life for someone sentenced to life. 

A licence period that runs for the remainder of an offender's life is called a life licence. 


Offenders can be recalled to serve the rest of their sentence if they breach their licence conditions.

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