The failure of recall to prison: early release, front-door and back-door sentencing and the revolving prison door in Scotland

Beth Weaver, Cyrus Tata, Mary Munro, Monica Barry

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9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article seeks to explain the reasons for the sharp rise in prison recall rates in Scotland. It argues that recall practices need to be understood not as a technical corner of the justice system, but as part of a wider analysis of the politics of sentencing and release policy. While there are sound reasons for a policy of ‘early release’ (incentivizing good behavior and enabling the resettlement of prisoners), in practice early release has increasingly been used as a tool to try to limit the growth in the custodial population. Unable to control prison numbers through the ‘front door’ (judicial sentencing and bail/remand), successive governments have increasingly relied on early release as a surreptitious way of, in effect, re-sentencing prisoners. We argue that this political strategy is ultimately self-defeating, not least in feeding public cynicism about the penal system and community supervision in particular. This article reviews the changing legislative, policy and practice landscape of the regulation of non-compliance and recall practice, and draws on the desistance literature to illustrate how offender-supervisor relationships can be undermined by recall policies which threaten the legitimacy of both the supervisory relationship and the conditions of supervision orders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Probation
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

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Keywords

  • custody
  • desistance
  • early release
  • parole
  • remission
  • sentencing

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