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To: Rt Hon Priti Patel MP Home Secretary and Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Release 10,000 Un-Convicted and Low-Risk Prisoners NOW to Avoid Death Sentences

Release 10,000 Un-Convicted and Low-Risk Prisoners NOW to Avoid Death Sentences

Please release 10,000 unconvicted and low risk prisoners urgently

Why is this important?

15% of the people in prison have respiratory conditions, most cannot self-isolate because they are housed two to each cell, in a cell originally built for one.

Our prisons house 85,000 of our family members in the setting of a Dickensian nightmare. Hygiene and living conditions are dire with many prisoners having NO toilet roll, no lids on toilets, very little soap and certainly no hand sanitiser. Rats, cockroaches, eating dinner on toilet and £2 food budget per person per day, are the reality.

Additionally, the staff/ prisoner ratio which is currently so strained that many prisoners can only shower once every 5 days, is about get very much worst as the dedicated people that staff our prisons need to self-isolate.

#COVID-19 has arrived in 2 prisons so far and it will run rampant through the prison estate like a medieval plague.

Stopping the spread of a virus in these circumstances is at best, improbable, at worst, impossible.

Even simple things like phones and serveries are touched by hundreds of unwashed hands every day.

Sympathy for the plight of prisoners is not common but we should not forget that our prisons also hold many innocent people. With court closures, thousands of people held on remand (legally innocent) will be kept in dangerous and degrading conditions for at least 12-18 months if not longer. We need to consider releasing all innocent people held on remand and accused of non-violent offending.

Our prisons are in an overcrowded and under-resourced crisis; the people in them are self-harming and committing suicide in record numbers. Priti Patel, Home Secretary has responded to the Coronavirus crisis by releasing 600 sentenced prisoners, 6 weeks early on tag. Although a most welcome step, this is less than 1% of the 85,000 people in prison and will do nothing to ease population pressures.

Iran (hardy a model of compassionate democracy) made the sensible and significant decision to release 85,000 low risk prisoners; 35% of their prison population of 240,000.

If we did the same, we would release (detain at home, supervise and monitor) 30,000 people.

Prison is a temporary home for all but 77 people serving natural life sentences. The other 85,000 are going to be released at some point. Many will be due for release in the very near future and some who are low risk of harm could be made suitable for an extended tag programme to reduce pressure on prisons and the associated, predictable loss of life.

Some people may say "If you don't want time, don't do the crime". This is a rote phrase, which is easy to quote but harder to apply in real life; most crime is not premeditated and all of us would make a whole host of different decisions with hindsight (or a time machine).

This is not about letting people get away with their crimes, it is about not putting them at risk of a greater sentence than they were given. We no longer have the death sentence in the UK and we have an obligation to keep people safe. We will not be able to do this inside our crumbling prison estate.

We are not talking about high-risk offenders like terrorists as some may suggest. Terrorists are a statistically unrepresentative example, being only 224 prisoners out of 85,000, that's 0.26% of the prison population. By comparison, an average of 325 people, 0.38%, are sent to prison each year for non-payment of council tax or TV licence.

If we do not release a large number of these non-violent, low risk prisoners, then there is a very real possibility that many people who are serving sentences for non-violent crimes may in fact receive the death sentence.

Dear Home Secretary, please consider releasing 10,000 people urgently from UK prisons.

Further reading



Reasons for signing

  • They should also release all those innocent falsely accused people who had an unfair trial because of withheld vital evidence that could have proved their innocence. There are 000's of them - they should be released - its the justice system that has done something wrong - not the falsely accused - they haven't done anything wrong but they're in prison!!!
  • I have a husband in prison and family’s need their loved ones home at this terrible time
  • Helping out


2020-04-05 02:46:12 +0100

I am so sorry to share the awful news released a few hours ago that two OSG'S (Prison Officers) working at HMP Pentonville have tragically died from #COVID19
There is so much I want to say; but I will refrain from saying anything anything other than my condolences are with the families and I wish them every possible comfort at this horrendous time.

2020-04-03 13:48:10 +0100

More than 20,000 people have now signed the petition on GOV website calling for low risk prisoners to be released early - please keep sharing it!

This is a workable order of releases

#prisonerslivesmatter #prisonersarepeople #covid19

2020-04-01 18:37:21 +0100


The release numbers have grown to include ladies in mother & baby units too!

Well done Robert Buckland and thank you. Who will be next please?

My recommended list is here if it helps



2020-03-31 15:06:27 +0100

About 50 expectant mothers will be allowed to leave state-run and private prisons within days.

A fantastic and appropriate decision well done Robert Buckland.

Recently a newborn baby tragically died at HMP Bronzfield when the mother was left to give birth alone in her cell. Things can only get much worse with #Covid19

We must make the unpopular but entirely necessary decision to release more vulnerable and low risk prisoners.
Please sign and share the petition

Here is a proposed order of release


2020-03-31 12:01:45 +0100

Cohorting of those people with a cough or cold with those who are known to be infected is cruel and irresponsible.
Can you imagine the fear of having to share with an infected person?
I wish we could comment on this article, please share instead.

2020-03-30 21:18:25 +0100

This is a dreadful idea, when the whole of the UK is on lockdown and the prison service is dramatically understaffed - let's add another 10,000 accompanied prison transport journeys! Prison transfers have NO continuity of care even in normal circumstances. The vulnerable 15% who are most at risk, must not be moved into chaos.

The reasoning is to maintain social distancing. This is bizarre when custody officers & escort staff would have to be handcuffed to prisoners being transferred. I respectfully request that HMPPS conduct risk assessments & pass the results to Robert Buckland so he can be well informed.

Just bite the bullet like almost every other country has and release the lowest risk prisoners who are approaching their release dates anyway. This is logical and entirely justifiable, if you are all too scared to explain it to the British public, I will.

2020-03-30 14:59:53 +0100

I have been asked by many people (both for & against) about the possible release of UK prisoners, what release might look like & who may be affected.

Please see this link for my considered response



#prisonerspeopletoo #prisonersarepeople #fewervictims #letstalkaboutprison #rehabilitativeculture

2020-03-29 13:33:24 +0100

URGENT: UN Human Rights Chief @mbachelet urges Governments to act now to prevent #COVID19 devastating the health of people in detention and other closed facilities, as part of global efforts to contain the pandemic.

Urgent action needed to prevent COVID-19 “rampaging through places of detention” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

2020-03-29 00:17:48 +0000

#prisonerspeopletoo is being used across twitter and social media

2020-03-27 23:51:41 +0000

Scotland could start releasing low risk prisoners and those near the end of their sentences "as early as next week".
Please keep sharing to encourage the UK to do the same.

2020-03-27 07:10:11 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2020-03-27 01:04:29 +0000

To the person who messaged the simple word "justice" after the first death from COVID-19 in a UK prison, I reply:
If you believe in the rule of law, then justice was the sentence the man was given to serve. He was not given the death sentence.
Death in custody does not reflect the purpose of sentencing, nor the sentence given.
Your comment does not consider that this infected prisoner met civilian staff incl. NHS workers - it is not justice for them to be exposed.
"Justice" does not consider that there are many other people in our overcrowded and unsanitary prisons for a range of offences including lying about a speeding ticket and around 22 pregnant women in prison for shoplifting/theft.
The crime is not as relevant as the significance of what has happened.
This is the start of the PRISON APOCALYPSE. Viruses do not discriminate; sex offender dead today, council tax non-payer tomorrow, then a prison officer.

2020-03-25 21:22:37 +0000

The prison apocalypse begins with the death of an 84 year old man.

Many people including his family will be devastated and heart broken, they have my deepest sympathy.

I am so sorry to say that this tragic death from #covid19 will be the first of thousands, across all ages, all offence types and all establishments, unless we take action NOW

Please sign and share this petition

2020-03-25 20:17:54 +0000

I have been asked about a blanket policy for the release of remand prisoners.
THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN because even though legally innocent, there are many remand prisoners who are accused of the most serious offences (terrorists, rapists, murderers etc), any possible impact on trial witnesses must be considered too.
Decisions also depend on the reason for remand, flight risk, likelihood of further offending etc.
Remand is also used after a guilty plea but before sentencing, so calling for the release of remand prisoners is not appropriate.
The public can only reasonably be asked to support a considered and individual approach, based on robust risk assessments, not a blanket policy

2020-03-25 13:25:18 +0000

Justice Secretary @RobertBuckland responds to calls to release low risk prisoners
This is a difficult decision, but some like 22 expectant mothers who shoplifted are easy!
Please keep sharing the petition

2020-03-25 10:30:54 +0000

it was recently revealed that we have 47 pregnant women in prison.
Recently a newborn baby tragically died at HMP Bronzfield when the mother was left to give birth alone in her cell. Thing can only get so very much worse with #COVID19.

Some statistically supported predictions. 12 came through care system, 23 have suffered serious abuse, 39 are non-violent offenders, 22 are in prison for theft.

Dear Robert Buckland and Priti Patel, please release the low risk pregnant prisoners who are high risk of Covid19 NOW!

2020-03-24 23:55:57 +0000

500 signatures reached

2020-03-24 00:17:19 +0000

345 signatures in 24 hours is fantastic!
Please keep sharing, every supporter counts and raises awareness of our friends and family members (whether staff or prisoners) who need the pressure to be relieved asap!

2020-03-23 14:12:53 +0000

Danny Shaw BBC
"Prisons in England/Wales have moved to 'command and control' system - required to follow instructions from Prison Service HQ. Some HQ staff with operational experience are being redeployed to fill staff shortages in prisons - it’s thought well over 1000 officers are off."

2020-03-23 14:05:26 +0000

Danny Shaw BBC
"At least three more prisoners have tested positive for Covid 19 - at Oakwood, Wymott and Birmingham where the jail has been placed in “lockdown” as a precaution. Last week, there were confirmed cases among inmates at Manchester and Kilmarnock prisons."

2020-03-23 11:51:45 +0000

"As many as 60% of prisoners could become infected with coronavirus, according to Prof Richard Coker at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has looked at the potential spread of the virus in locked establishments."

2020-03-23 11:14:49 +0000

I have been asked why people can't self-isolate in prison.
UK prisons are overcrowded by around 24,000 places meaning that around half of the 85,000 people have to share cells.
Each prisoner is completely dependent on a supply chain for their meals. Food is prepared generally by other prisoners and if they are short staffed it is packet based like noodles or crisps and a roll.
Additionally, many cells do not have toilets, most do not have showers or phones but rely in staff to unlock them to access shared facilities.
HMP Coldingley has 6 toilets per wing of 80 people and people press a bell to join an automated sanitation queue.
There are almost no cleaning products left in many prisons.

2020-03-23 00:56:06 +0000

100 signatures reached

2020-03-22 22:16:18 +0000

50 signatures reached

2020-03-22 21:59:35 +0000

25 signatures reached

2020-03-22 21:59:18 +0000

2020-03-22 21:35:28 +0000

10 signatures reached