Release from Prison: European Policy and Practice

Release from Prison: European Policy and Practice

Release from Prison: European Policy and Practice

Release from Prison: European Policy and Practice


Release from prison is matter of increasing interest throughout Europe. On the one hand, arguments about the need to reduce prison numbers, as well the consistent findings that prisoners can be integrated into society more effectively if they are subject to a period of supervision in the community, have made early release policies attractive to governments and to academic commentators. On the other hand, there are concerns that early release may not be applied fairly to all prisoners.

This book aims to meet the need for comparative information on release from prison across Europe and explores some of the key themes and issues. The body of the book focuses on country perspectives, providing an invaluable survey of the situation in a number of European countries.

The introductory and concluding chapters place the comparative material in a broader perspective. They explain how release policy is related to wider questions about justice and fairness in prison-related decision-making and the changing place of imprisonment in European society.


Nicola Padfield, Dirk van Zyl Smit and Frieder Dünkel

The release of sentenced prisoners is of great significance, not only to the prisoners concerned but also for what it tells us about how society deals with those who have lost their liberty and are dependent on others to regain it. In practice, few prisoners are told that they will never be released from prison. All legal systems have rules, some more and some less formal, for deciding who comes out, when, and under what conditions. The application of these rules is closely watched by the prisoners themselves. However, as they are relatively powerless, it is of great importance that both the rules and wider principles that underlie them are clearly understood by criminal justice practitioners and the wider public. This book aims to contribute to such understanding by concentrating on the release of prisoners in countries of Europe, where, notwithstanding major procedural differences, there are fundamental shared values about liberty and the rule of law against which evolving systems can be critically evaluated.

1. Scope of the present research

The main focus of the book is on the rules on release from prison applicable in 13 different European Union countries. The chapters dealing with individual countries are preceded by a chapter that considers the roles of the Council of Europe and the European Union in developing law and policy that impact on the release of prisoners. A final chapter places the national accounts in a wider context and draws some overall conclusions about the processes for making decisions to release sentenced prisoners in the various countries

The importance of understanding the different approaches taken in these countries is underlined by the recent decision of the Council . . .

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