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(United Kingdom) To combat prison overcrowding, Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced that foreign criminal sex offenders will be eligible for early release from prison if they agree to be deported.

The early release scheme (ERS) allows a convict to be released 270 days early if the convict has served at least one-fourth of his sentence.

Opposition to the scheme has been swift. Given the government's demonstrated inability to track sex offenders, to guarantee that foreigners are actually deported and to prevent deportees from sneaking back into Britain, the contention that citizens will be less safe with this latest scheme is hard to dispute.

As a reminder, it was only last year that a different early release scheme was harshly criticized by both conservatives and liberals alike. Prime Minister Blair expressed regrets but said the early release program was necessary to ease overcrowding in the prisons. However, Blair also said it was only a temporary measure until new prisons are built.

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