HMP Featherstone near Wolverhampton to be recategorised

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A West Midlands prison is being recategorised to hold more prisoners who will be allowed into the community on temporary licences.

The Prison Service has said 256 places at HMP Featherstone, near Wolverhampton will be changed.

The category C spaces will make way for category D prisoners who are eligible for release on temporary licences.

They will include those sentenced to life with a minimum tariff but not sex offenders under current plans.

'Cut costs'

Some of the prisoners moving to the new category D places are being held in higher-security conditions than they require and moving them will help cut costs, the Prison Service said.

No significant reductions of staff are expected, but "any limited reductions" will come from natural wastage and redeployment or, if necessary, voluntary exits, a spokeswoman added.

In changes to be completed early in the next financial year, Featherstone jail will offer 256 category D places, increasing its operational capacity by 16 to 703, as it will continue to have 447 category C spaces.

Category C inmates are those who cannot be trusted in an open prison but are unlikely to try to escape, while those assessed as category D present a low risk and are unlikely to escape.

The changes will affect indeterminate sentenced prisoners, set a minimum term they must serve before being considered for parole.

Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt said: "The prison estate should meet the needs of the prison population.

"Where prisoners have been assessed as suitable for open conditions, wherever possible they should be accommodated in appropriate conditions to progress their reintegration into the community."

The G4S-run Oakwood prison, near to Featherstone, opened in April and can hold 1,605 category C prisoners.

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