MORE than 1,000 of the country’s most dangerous criminals were moved to open prisons last year.
The revelation comes as Sudbury Open Prison continues to face questions over the number of inmates who continue to flee from the site.
A total of 1,242 prisoners serving life in jail, or an indeterminate sentence, were moved in 2013.
In the past three years, 37 murderers and five rapists have absconded from open prisons, the damning figures revealed.
Bosses at the Sudbury jail have repeatedly come under fire from politicians in the region as inmates continue to flee on a regular basis.
In January, the jail was widely criticised when ten prisoners including an armed robber and an arsonist left the site within the space of six weeks, while convicted murderer Carl Moses, who was serving a life sentence, went on the run last summer.
Last month, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced it was to limit the freedom of criminals in open jails in a bid to cut the number of absconders. But since the announcement, criminals have continued to flee from Sudbury.
Just last week violent convict Peter Croft, 35, absconded from the prison where he was serving a seven-year sentence for wounding with intent and offensive weapon charges.
Although welcoming tighter measures, Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths believes bosses should rethink the types of criminals that are being moved to open prisons.
Mr Griffiths said: “If this is happening so regularly, something is clearly going wrong with the type of prisoners they are putting in the open prisons. These prisoners are clearly not ready for the freedom that Sudbury offers.”
An MOJ spokesman said open prisons played an important role in preparing inmates for when they are released back into the community.
The spokesman said: “Open prisons perform a range of functions but notably to prepare long-sentenced prisoners for release.
“It’s right that people who have been in prison a long time are tested in this kind of environment before their eventual release.”