Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed Thursday that repeat violent criminals will not be given the near-automatic ticket out of prison known as statutory release, under a bill to be introduced in Parliament.
The tough new measure will apply to offenders who have previously been sentenced to five years in prison or longer for a violent offence. On their next federal violent offence, they would be kept in prison beyond the statutory release period at the two-thirds mark of their sentence; instead, they would be held until the final six months of their term. The new rule will apply only to federal offenders – those sentenced to two years or more in prison. The Globe revealed the government's intention to introduce the new rule last month.
"The amendments will allow repeat offenders to be exposed to correctional programming in penitentiaries for a longer period of time to change behaviour which contributes to reoffending," the Prime Minister's Office said in a news release.
Government statistics show that in 2012-13, 1.5 per cent – 92 releases out of a total of 6,161 – were revoked because of a violent offence, 30.7 per cent were revoked for breach of conditions such as missed curfews, 7.1 per cent were revoked for a non-violent offence and 60.6 per cent were completed without incident.
The change falls short of the government's promise to end statutory release, a promise that could have cost hundreds of millions of dollars if implemented. But it is expected to boost the numbers in prison, which are near record levels, in spite of falling crime rates.