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The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including those from the School of Psychological Sciences & Health - but also papers by researchers based within the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, and from the Strathclyde Business School.

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

Weaver, Beth and Tata, Cyrus and Munro, Mary and Barry, Monica (2012) The failure of recall to prison: early release, front-door and back-door sentencing and the revolving prison door in Scotland. European Journal of Probation, 4 (1). pp. 85-98. ISSN 2066-2203

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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.