What is Executive Release?

Executive release is a process by which the secretary of state can essentially bypass the Parole Board and release a prisoner on the papers without the necessity of a hearing.

Examples where this is utilised is with licence recall.  When an inmate is recalled on his licence he/she can make representations. They can do that by themselves or via a solicitor.  We make written representations commonly asking that the matter be directed to oral hearing. In some circumstances for straight release on the papers.

A single member of the parole board considers the case on the papers and makes a decision. It will be one of 3 options. 1. not to release or direct to hearing  2. direct to hearing   3. release on papers.

If the case is directed to hearing it is listed usually in around 3-6 months time.  The parole board convenes and considers whether the risk factors can be safely  managed in the community back on licence.  This is at a hearing,  the Offender Manager and Offender supervisor give evidence and any other witness such as a psychologist.  The inmate is questioned by the parole board directly.

Executive release is a separate process and runs alongside the parole process. If there is “overwhelming support for release” by the Offender manager and supervisor then the offender manager can put in paperwork asking that the inmate be considered for executive release. The Secretary of State (but in reality a senior manager at PPCS – the public and protection casework section) reviews the case on the papers and makes a decision.  If they decide the risk can be managed, the paperwork is signed off  and the inmate is released. The parole process halts and the hearing if scheduled is cancelled. The inmate in short never goes before the parole board and is simply released on the papers. (The parole board already having looked at their case on the papers and having declined to release on the papers!)

Note: A solicitor cannot make representations for executive release and neither can the inmate. It is the application of the offender manager only and in reality if an offender manager submits their report supporting release the public protection casework section will submit an application for executive release, provided the prison are also supporting release and the custodial behaviour is good.

In reality often in recall proceedings there is no report from the prison in the early stages so prisoners can find themselves put forward for executive release and then refused it because enquiries are subsequently made with the prison and if their behaviour is not good and they have nickings or positive drug tests they are refused.  Also,  offender managers have also been known to withdraw their support/application for executive release if they are informed by the offender supervisor in prison that behaviour has deteriorated.

Note:  Lifers cannot be executively released and neither can IPP’s.  Only determinate sentence prisoners and EDS can be considered for executive release. Re-called IPP’s can apply for straight release on the papers before a single member of the parole board however and are now not guaranteed an oral hearing as they were in the past because of their ability to apply for release before a single member on the papers.  Re-called lifers cannot apply for straight release on the papers and they are therefore guaranteed a direction to oral hearing.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding executive release. Inmates think it is their application and ask solicitors to ‘get me executively released’.  Offender managers don’t realise it is their application and therefore don’t request it.  Many people don’t know that IPP and Lifer recalls can’t be executively released and I receive multiple letters from inmates in that position confused about why they aren’t being put forward for it.  The reason for the confusion is because executive release used to in the past be a process used very exceptionally.  In a bid to free up hearing space however and clear up the back log of people waiting for hearings in particular lifers and IPP’s who are long past target month date (in which the MOJ then has to pay them compensation)  executive release is being much more frequently utilised.  I would urge the MOJ to publish the statistics of how many are recalled because in my experience it is very high which must question why a caseworker has the power to authorise release without an inmate appearing before an experienced parole board who can properly assess risks.  I feel this is particularly shocking when a parole board member has already directed the case to hearing and set out directions for reports.  For a caseworker to cancel that hearing on the papers over the parole board’s head I feel is unjustified. I have even had hearings cancelled and inmates executively released the day before the hearing when money has been spent preparing the case, obtaining reports etc.  What possible justification for that can there be, especially when the index offence was a violent one?

36 thoughts on “What is Executive Release?

  1. Sarah says:

    It’s not the caseworker that cancels it or releases, its the Secretary of state who goes above the parole board and everyone else has to cancel the proceedings. My brother has been recalled for an offence which was not committed, has developed psychosis and has spent 12 months inside. His oral hearing is in feb 2019. The parole board has destroyed my brothers life and my family’s. I hope they rot.

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      The Secretary of State does not personally deal with this he/she has caseworkers who act on his behalf. That is what I meant. They are senior caseworkers. I deal with them every week. So sorry your brother is having such a hard time and hope it goes well for him in February.

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    • Bernadette says:

      My son as been recalled and probation as requested for executive release all the papers as gone over on 4th sep but he as not erd anything yet he and his family is getting very frustrated every day I am waiting for the fone to ring to let me no on the decision how long does it usually take for the decision and if you get the decision do you get out that day are do they give the inmate a date for release

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      • Janine Doolan says:

        Hi, it can take up to 6 weeks to get a decision there is no time limit I’m afraid it depends on how many applications they are considering at the time. It depends on what his agreed licence conditions are with regards whether he gets out the same day or to a future date, for instance if he is going to approved premises the place might only be available on a certain date. It usually says in the licence conditions what the expected date of release is you should ask the offender manager as they are the person who wrote the licence conditions so they know the date they are asking for release.

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  2. Emma Abbott says:

    My boyfriends hearing was cancelled on the 11th December now they are going for an executive release how long does it take for a decision to be made with this process.

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      sorry for delay in replying I have been out of the country. It can take a few weeks I’m afraid even as long as a month. It depends on how many people are in front of him in the queue for his case to be considered. There are senior caseworkers who look at the case on the papers. In my experience the only one’s who are not approved for ER are inmates who have poor custodial behaviour. good luck!

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      • Dawn jarvis says:

        What if you tick all the boxes good behaviour pass all tests and get recalled because someone has told lies about you

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      • tracy Takle says:

        Hi my partner is up for executive release after a recall probation officer said he’s to be released on the 28th day and that the board had to make their decision in 7 days and my partner still hasn’t heard isn’t charged with anything so why is he still sat waiting

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      Hi yes it is as it only applies to determinate sentence prisoners and they have an initial release date at their half way point so it would only apply if for some reason they had been sent back to prison. Same with EDS prisoners, they have a conditional release date but also a parole eligibility date. They cannot be released by way of executive release prior to the PED only the parole board can choose to release earlier. So again, executive release would only apply if for some reason they had been released but then returned to prison

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  3. Vicky Wilcock says:

    Hi Jane! Thank you very much for this information it is very useful. I am still a bit confused though so I was wondering if you could please provide me with your opinion on my partners case please. My partner was put on an IPP when he was in his twenties and he is now 34. He had been out of prison for 8 years until an incident took place last year in which he was recalled back to prison on Dec 2018. Luckily the CCTV proved that my partner was innocent and was found not guilty and was given a conditional discharge which was on the 11th Jan. His probation officer is completely behind him and has requested him to be released from prison which her Manager approved, so she sent the request papers to the lifers team requesting him to be released, providing information of him moving into my home in a nice area, and a job to come back to. In prison he has done really well and was given a good job and even promoted to the mentor position. The paperwork was sent by probation nearly 3 weeks ago and I was wondering if you could please provide me your thoughts on the following 1: His chances of approval of release? (his PO said she would be very suprised if they declined. 2: If its approved when is he likely to be released? Could it be a matter of weeks or still months? I know you cant say for definite but just your guess would be really appreciate as right now i’m stuck in limbo and really want a date to look forward to and obviously him home ha. His PO is now away for a month and someone else will be looking after his case in her absence and im worried that would delay his release too. Thank you so much! Vicky x

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      Sorry do you mean he is applying for release on the papers as opposed to applying for an oral hearing? IPP prisoners cant be executively released so I am presuming this is what you mean. I really couldn’t guess whether he would be successful without knowing his case I’m afraid but if this is what you mean then it takes 2-4 weeks for a decision from the date the case was sent for MCA although currently there is a backlog of 2 weeks

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  4. Anna says:

    Hi Janine, Please can you tell me if Executive Release can be applied for at any time? Do you have to wait for the police to stop investigating what you were recalled for before applying for executive release or can it be done whilst they are investigating? Thank you.

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      Hi Anna, executive release can only be applied for if there is overwhelming support for release and it is unlikely that the offender manager would support release if there potential outstanding matters. Once they were NFA’d though they probably would. Hope that helps!

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  5. Tammy wright says:

    Hi my partner was recalled from probation for not attending appointment etc he has done 9 month inside from recall. His probation officers and managers are supporting him for excuative release in and they had give him a date of 13th june that the excuative release would happen but he also recieved a letter from the parole board giving him an date for a parole hearing which in 15 weeks after the date they had give him for excuative release, is it normal for them to do that or does that mean he is not getting excautive release and how long does it take for excuative release do they relase you on the date they said which would be 13th june?

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      Hi, yes he can still be released on the 13th June. The parole process runs separately from executive release. If ER is approved by the secretary of state then he will just be released and the hearing cancelled. Once the paperwork is approved he should be told. There can be a bit of a wait as there are only so many caseworkers considering them and how long it takes is dependent on how many other people are waiting so I couldn’t say

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  6. Alison Lamb says:

    My son was granted executive release on friday 21st june how long does it take for him to be releasped from prison after this has been granted?

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  7. vickyw9683yahoocou says:

    Hi Janine. My partner’s parole hearing is next week. I know the board have 14 days to provide their decision but can you please tell me what are the next steps please? If they agree to release him do they then provide the release date or do we have to wait for that too? Also we have been told a new system has been put into place for IPPs where they have to hold them for 21 days to contact the victims. Can you please shed light on this and the process? Thank you

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      hello, his solicitor should be able to answer these questions for you but with regard the new procedure please see my blog post written on reconsideration the new parole process that explains everything I know to date. With regards when he is released that will totally depend on the agreed licence conditions. His solicitor should be able to tell you that as they will have access to his paperwork and reports

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      • Vicky says:

        Thank you for the information Janine, its appreciated. My partner went to his hearing on Tuesday but was told it had to be adjourned because they hadnt received a particular part of the paperwork from the dossier which means he will have to wait for a new hearing date and the listings for January are going out, which means that because of somebody’s error my partner has to wait a minimum or 4 months before he gets another date. Is there anything that can be done in order for this to be rectified or him to be set as priority? Its completely unfair how they are ruining peoples lives and don’t seem to care and he should have a new date ASAP. All of this when he was innocent of the crime he was recalled for in the first place. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I feel like we are getting no where. Thanks again.

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  8. Janine Doolan says:

    They usually give you a new date there and then if it is adjourned at the hearing, to avoid having to go back into the listings process but perhaps there was a reason why that couldn’t be done on the day? His Solicitor can email the caseworker and make representations that the case should be listed sooner. There probably aren’t the grounds for an expedited hearing as that is really strict criteria, but they could ask for it to be listed as a priority. That goes before a duty member of the parole board on a SHRF form who will either say yes or no. Its worth a go

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  9. Janine Doolan says:

    it depends on the licence conditions which are proposed by the offender manager and the availability of the release address. His offender manager should be able to tell you the date they are asking for him to be released

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  10. Kelly Heath says:

    If a prisoner was refused executive release how likely will it he they get the paper one or the oral hearing, Shirley the percentage must be higher with it having a good enough report to even have been considered for executive release?

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  11. Lana says:

    Hi my partner was recalled to prison due to a case that he didn’t commit. After 5 months The case was dismissed at pre trial on 10/12/19. His case manager has put in for ER. The ppcs have said they are considering it. It’s already been just under 5 weeks. How much longer does the process take.

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      Hi I usually tell clients it can take up to 6 weeks but there is no set time limit it depends on how many other cases are being considered and also sometimes the application requires some clarification and they may go back to the offender manager for more information. I would ask his offender manager in another week though if they have heard anything

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  12. Nina Sanderson says:

    Hi. My partners offender manager has put him forward for executive release.. My partner has done every single course and has the highest jobrole allowed for a prisoner (wing pilot for 3 wings) He has excellent behaviour and ticks every single box. However; the probation officer did a video call with him yesterday after knowing about this for a good few weeks, yet she did not have any clue about him… she said she wanted him to do a victim awareness course first and of course he said he has done that. He seemed one step ahead and offered to wear a tag and take daily drug tests.. He cannot do anything more yet she was not keen !! She wants to see me today in her office so I am nervous now.

    It seems unfair that she is not putting any effort in and after today goes on leave for 2 weeks!!!
    Is there anything we can do?

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    • Janine Doolan says:

      Hello unfortunately executive release is based on the recommendation of the offender manager. All you can do is apply for release via the parole board process if executive release is refused or she ultimately doesn’t support it.

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