Prisoners released early to free up space
More than 500 prisoners are to be released just halfway through their sentences in an effort to free desperately-needed space in overcrowded jails.
The Ministry of Justice authorised the move, just as the prison population of England and Wales passed 83,000 for the first time. The number of those behind bars leapt by 250 over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The early release plans centre on 550 non-violent and non-sexual offenders serving more than four years who would previously have had to wait until two-thirds into their sentences before being freed.
They will be let out over the next 14 months, beginning in a fortnight's time, with prison governors warned that failure to comply could amount to "unlawful detention" of offenders.