The United Kingdom now says it will end an “early release” program in place for individuals convicted of “terror offenses” after two people were wounded in a second attack committed by someone granted leniency under the early release rules.
According to the Associated Press, the UK has been employing a rule which allows those convicted of planning terror attacks to serve a fraction of their prison sentence before being automatically paroled without a hearing. The rule, introduced ten years ago by the Labour Party, is meant to show mercy to those who may have been targeted for radicalization and to keep terror cells from recruiting in prisons. In the last decade, around 70 people have walked free because of the rule.
Sunday, Sudesh Amman, one of the parolees, “strapped on a fake bomb and stabbed two people on a busy street before being shot dead by police,” per the AP. It was the second such attack by a former prisoner in less than six months.
Amman was sentenced to just three years for “publishing graphic terrorist videos online and had stockpiled instructions on bomb making and knife attacks,” but got out of jail after only around 18 months — half his sentence. In November, Usman Khan killed two people near the London Bridge while out on conditional release.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told the British Parliament on Monday that he will propose a slate of new rules, curbing the state’s ability to allow terror offenders to walk free.
“We cannot have the situation, as we saw tragically in yesterday’s case, where an offender – a known risk to innocent members of the public – is released early by automatic process of law without any oversight by the Parole Board,” Buckland said in a speech Monday morning.
The new rules would ensure that terror prisoners serve at least two thirds of their sentence before being considered for early parole. And instead of an automatic release, each prisoner will have to demonstrate rehabilitation. Because, Buckland added, this is “an unprecedented situation of severe gravity,” the rule will apply to the approximately 200 prisoners currently serving time on terror-related charges.
‘This is a liberal country, it is a tolerant country,″ Prime Minister Boris Johnson added in his own interview. “But I think the idea of automatic early release for people who obviously continue to pose a threat to the public has come to the end of its useful life.”
“Now that I am prime minister I’m going to take steps to make sure that people are not released early when they commit… serious sexual, violent or terrorist offences,” he told the BBC. “I absolutely deplore the that fact that this man was out on the streets…and we are going to take action against it.”
The new slate of rules will likely include measures requiring that law enforcement officials closely monitor those convicted on terrorism charges and then released for a certain period of time.
“We are going to have to accept that we have to be much more skeptical and robust about dealing with the risk of harm,″ one expert told the AP. “We may need to accept that there are certain people who are so dangerous they must be kept in prison indefinitely.”
Leftists in the UK were unhappy at the news. Labour Party leaders blamed law enforcement “budget cuts” for the rise in terrorist activities, not the early release program, and a “human rights activist” told the BBC that the new rules present “civil rights concerns.”
“From last month’s knee-jerk lie detector proposal, to today’s threat to break the law by changing people’s sentences retrospectively, continuing to introduce measures without review or evidence is dangerous and will create more problems than it solves,” he said.