Prisoner release on license

A prisoner may be released from prison before the end of their prison sentence on a temporary license.

There are four different types of Release on Temporary License (ROTL):

  • Resettlement day release

  • Resettlement overnight release

  • Childcare resettlement

  • Special purpose release

Risk assessment following ROTL application

Once an application for release on temporary license has been received, the prison will firstly ascertain whether the prisoner is eligible for such release and will then carry out a risk assessment.

Each prison will have produced a leaflet that should be available to prisoners containing their policy on release on temporary license.

Categories of prisoners not eligible for ROTL

There are certain categories of prisoners that are not eligible for release on temporary license from any UK prison, these include:

  • Category A prisoners

  • A prisoner who is named on an escape list

  • Any prisoner subject to extradition proceedings

  • A prisoner who has not yet received their sentence

  • A prisoner who is held in prison on remand, having already received a sentence in relation to one or more offences, but still awaits sentence in relation to further offences.

Category B offenders are not eligible for certain aspects of ROTL. They will not be considered for Resettlement Day Release or Resettlement Overnight release, but may be considered for any other form of ROTL.

Resettlement Day Release

A prisoner will be eligible to apply for Resettlement Day Release either:

  • 24 months before their parole date

  • 24 months before their conditional release date

  • Having served half of their sentence minus half of any relevant remand time

Whichever of these criteria gives the later date, will be the one that the prison will consider on application for Resettlement Day release.

Why Resettlement Day Release?

There are many reasons why a person may apply for Resettlement Day Release, the most common are:

  • To maintain family ties

  • In order to maintain/ sort out housing issues

  • To attend probation interviews

  • To search for employment and attend any relevant interviews

  • To carry out any unpaid work requirements

  • To attend any training or skills workshops

  • To open bank accounts

  • Complete any sentence related requirements such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation

For prisoners who are serving their sentence on designated resettlement prisons, the following additional reasons may be consider alongside an application for Resettlement Day Release:

  • To undertake driving lessons

  • Car maintenance

  • To carry our paid employment

The length of time and frequency of release

It will be the decision of the Prison Governor as to how long each Resettlement day release will last and for how many weeks or months this will continue.

It is usual for Category C prisoners or closed condition prisoners, who are receiving regular, lengthy Resettlement day release, to be transferred to open prisons providing such release is going well.

For those prisoners who are eligible for Home Detention Curfew (also known as Tag), they will receive at least one Resettlement Day release prior to their release on tag.

Resettlement Overnight Release

The terms for releasing a prisoner on Resettlement Overnight release are exactly the same as those for Resettlement Day release.

Category C and closed condition prisoners

Any Category C prisoner or closed condition prisoner can apply for a single period of Resettlement Overnight release in the 3 months prior to their parole eligibility date.

If this application is successful, and the release has also gone well, then that prisoner will also be considered for transfer to open conditions.

If the prison is subsequently not granted parole, then the prison will carry out a further risk assessment.

Following the refusal to grant parole, the prisoner can apply for three periods of Resettlement Overnight release in the following 12 months. Each time he applies for Resettlement Overnight Release must be at least 8 weeks apart.

Prisoners suitable for open or semi- open conditions

These prisoners may apply for a single period of Resettlement Overnight Release in the 3 months immediately prior to their parole eligibility date.

If parole is subsequently refused, the same applies as with Category C and closed condition prisoners.

A prisoner without a Parole eligibility date serving a sentence of over 12 months

These prisoners may apply for such release once in every 4 weeks after their date for Resettlement Overnight release has been granted.

Childcare Resettlement Leave

In order to be eligible, a prisoner must show that s/he is the sole carer responsible for a child under the age of 16 and is:

  • Subject to open conditions, or

  • Considered eligible for such conditions, or

  • Resident in a mother and baby unit and have other children outside of prison being cared for by others.

If the Childcare Resettlement release is to take place in the residence of the person currently caring for the children, that carers permission must firstly be obtained. If the children are in the care of the Local Authority, then it is their authority that is required.

The duration is a maximum of three nights in every two months.

Special Purpose License

All prisoners, except for those listed above who are excluded from any ROTL are eligible for special purpose release.

This release is most commonly granted in respect of a special set of circumstances. The most common include:

  • Compassionate leave such as visiting a relative who is dying, attending funerals or emergency problems with children.

  • To received medical treatment

  • Marriage

  • In order to help the police with further enquiries

Any matters concerning religious requirements should be considered as a matter of urgency, for example where a funeral will take place within 24 hours of death.

The maximum length of release will be 4 nights, and this will be to the Governors discretion.

Back to back licenses may be granted in exceptional cases.