London, June 27 : Criminals were handed nearly two million pounds of taxpayers' money in the first nine months of a scheme that allows them out of jail early.
British Justice Secretary Jack Straw said the cash amount of 1,953,854 pounds was shared between nearly 24,000 inmates freed between June 29, 2007 and March 31, 2008.
Conservatives, however, said the hand-outs "added insult to injury" because not only were offenders being freed early, they were being "paid for the privilege".
The Tories calculated the sum amounted to 82 pounds per prisoner, on top of the standard 47 pounds discharge grant received by all offenders on leaving jail.
"Subsistence payments are made because prisoners on an ECL are released under temporary licence from prison... and... are statutorily ineligible to receive benefits payments," Straw said.