Currently, prisoners sentenced to a standard determinate custodial sentence must be released automatically at the halfway point of their sentence and serve the second half on licence. Those sentenced to at least 12 weeks but less than four years may be released on Home Detention Curfew (HDC) up to 135 days before the halfway point, depending on sentence length. They must meet strict eligibility criteria and will be liable to recall to prison if they fail to comply with strict electronic monitoring and other conditions attached to their release.
HDC is a robust scheme which allows prisoners to work towards rehabilitation and resettlement in the community, while remaining subject to strict conditions. If they breach these, they face being returned to custody. Research on early release with electronic monitoring has shown no increase in re-offending despite the early release.
Children sentenced to a Detention and Training Order (DTO) serve the first half in custody, and the second half in the community. Most children serving a DTO of 8 months or more can be released one or two months earlier (depending on the DTO length) than the normal mid-point of sentence.
In 2018 the number of people released on HDC in England Wales was 14,769, which is 21 % of all prisoners released that year. The number of people released early from a DTO was 215, which is 0.3% of the total number of releases that year.
Prisoners may also be released early before having served half the sentence under the Early Removal Scheme (ERS). Under this scheme offenders liable to removal from the United Kingdom who have served at least a quarter of the sentence may be released before the halfway point solely in order to facilitate their deportation. Prisoners may also be released early on compassionate grounds (ERCG) before they have served half the sentence. Relevant data on releases under ERS and ERCG are not collated centrally.