Prisoners are released from prison (on parole) with the approval of a special committee called the Parole Board. More information on the Parole Board can be found on their website.

Short-term prisoners (sentenced to less than four years in prison), are released automatically at the half way point of their sentence and their cases do not go to the Parole Board.

Offenders with sentences of over four years are eligible for parole after they have served half of their sentence in custody. If Parole is not granted at this stage, they will be released automatically at the two-thirds point in their sentence.

Cases are usually referred to the Parole Board about 16 weeks before the prisoner reaches the half way point of their sentence.

Considerations for parole
When considering if someone should be released on parole, the Parole Board will consider the crime, how the prisoner has behaved in prison, whether or not the prisoner is likely to commit further crimes and if they can successfully reintegrate back into the community. If they re-offend, they may be sent back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence. The Parole Board will also decide on the specific conditions (licence) that the prisoner must agree to for the rest of their sentence.

Considerations for release on licence
Offenders who have been given a life sentence must be considered for release on life licence by the Parole Board once they have served the “punishment part” of their sentence. This is the period of time that the court has decided that person must spend in prison as punishment for the offence.

The Board also considers whether or not offenders released on licence – including those on life licence should be recalled to custody. Scottish Ministers may also recall an offender if it is considered that it needs to be done immediately in order to protect the public. For any prisoner who has been recalled (other than short- term prisoners who are not sex offenders) the Parole Board will consider whether they should be re-released after the recall has taken place. The prisoner will be given the opportunity to provide an explanation for the events that led to the recall, to help the Board consider the risk that the prisoner now presents.