19th April 2020

Thousands of convicts will be freed from prison to control the pandemic

Opinion pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflects the view of the Liverpool Guild Student Media or Liverpool Guild of Students.

The Ministry of Justice has announced that prisoners who are no longer considered a threat to society (excluding of course sex offenders, paedophiles and murderers) will be freed for the time being, provided that they are within the last two months of their prison term.

The logic behind this radical move simply reflects the desperation of our NHS. With thousands of patients already admitted into the hospital, infected inmates would put our healthcare under massive strain. And this is not an unlikely scenario; many of them share cells and eat together, conditions which only accelerate the risk of transmission. To combat concerns, each released prisoner will be electronically tagged meaning that if laws are breached, they will be re-incarcerated.

The motivation behind this is to avoid unnecessary pressures on the NHS. However, there remains the risk of these low-risk offenders breaching our trust by committing more heinous crimes.

This may spark outrage as in their general election manifesto, the Conservatives promised criminals would be “kept off our streets” but this was considered the most practical option by the government, however, the alternative of transferring prisoners to army bases was also explored. At the end of the day, no one is to blame in these unprecedented times. It is a matter of health versus trust.

Nevertheless, many countries are choosing to follow suit. This includes Northern Ireland, France, Australia, Germany and Canada, amongst others.

Feature Image Credit: Unsplash